Adult Conversations

Made you look. ;o) — Not THOSE kind of “adult conversations.”

I’m talking about the kind of adult conversations the GOP both ran on last fall, and came into power in the House last week claiming they wanted to have. Here’s Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) using the phrase referring to Medicare “reform” last November, just before the election. Here’s newly-minted chair of the House Budget Committee and fiscal scold Paul Ryan, chiding Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for not having an adult conversation last September, in a joint TV interview on CNN. And, of course, perhaps the reason for the start of all this repetition of the phrase “adult conversation,” here’s the guy who chose a GOP cocktail party fundraiser over accepting a seat on Air Force One to accompany the President to pay his respects publicly to the victims of last week’s shooting, John Boehner, leaking to the press last fall that he, if elected Speaker, would begin an “adult conversation” about debt and fiscal responsiblity, blah blah blah

After the shootings last week in Arizona, a lot of people have been reassessing their priorities, as well as taking another look over the landscape of political interaction in light of this tragedy. Even if we conclude that there’s no demonstrably provable link between, say, Sarah Palin’s crosshairs or Rush Limbaugh’s bitter and frequently violent bombast and the uptick in political violence, many are concluding that a return to greater civility, indeed – as the President so eloquently pointed out Wednesday night – greater caring about each other and remembering we are all Americans, might be exactly what’s needed to turn things around, in many senses. You know, an adult conversation, with a sober assessment of the problems and a reduction or elimination of vitriol, name-calling and ad hominem attacks. Almost sounds like the GOP might have been ahead of the curve on this one, if they play their cards right.

Except, of course, not so much – as you probably already guessed. Ezra Klein points out in today’s Washington Post, that HR 2 – literally, only the second bill the new congress takes up (in the House), is STILL called “The Repealing The Job-Killing Health-Care Law Act.” Really. This, even after the CBO stated that repealing last year’s health care bill would increase the deficit dramatically, costing us more money. Ezra runs down exactly why the GOP came up with their term “job-killing,” but let’s just say you won’t be surprised to learn that it twists the truth almost beyond recognition to take what the CBO actually said about employment and end up referring to that as “job-killing.” Read Klein’s piece yourself if you want the details. But, as Klein points out in a broader context: “job-killing” health care bill? Really, GOP? What was that you were saying about “adult conversations,” GOP? Was that somehow in the grand tradition of all previous house bills with the word “killing” in the title? Hmm?

These people are not serious, folks. They never were. Not about deficit reduction, not about health care, not about jobs. It’s important to point out trivial or petty-seeming points like this (the title of a bill, after all, really doesn’t affect its contents at all), because it serves to remind people of that, in a way that dull policy debates also can, but only if one has the time, the proper background, and the stomach to sit through them. Hearing the man who is third in line for the Presidency in the event of a tragedy repeatedly refer, on cue, like one of Luntz’s Pavlov’s dogs, to the first substantive bill his coalition introduces in the new legislative year as “The Job-Killing….” is one of the best ways to remind the public of the GOP’s unseriousness and deep, deep childishness and spite.

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