In ruminating on the election, Crabby Old Lady finds herself appalled that so many politicians are nothing better than embarrassing. Can't we just say it. Christine O'Donnell – still a girl at 41 – has the intellectual underpinnings of a gnat. Sarah Palin is incoherent. Sharron Angle, Michele Bachmann and Jan Brewer are freaks – and two of them won!
Crabby is not picking on women in particular, but they have cornered the market on crackpot politics. Anti-masturbation? Death panels? Second Amendment remedies? Nuclear strike on Iran? Decapitated bodies in the desert? Candidates apparently believe these positions are vote-getters. Worse, most were not wrong.
If you don't count Linda McMahon's knee to her husband's groin, male candidates have a greater penchant for personal violence in politics. Alaska's Joe Miller defended his security team's assault on a journalist. Carl Paladino, in New York, threatened to “take out” a reporter and brought a baseball bat to his concession speech. Larry West of Florida won on a platform of hand-to-hand combat with muskets and bayonets.
On a bi-gender basis, here are some of the extreme beliefs of the freshman Republicans who will join the 112th Congress in January, as compiled by ThinkProgress:
• 91% have sworn to never allow an income tax increase on any individual or business – regardless of deficits or war
• 79% have pledged to permanently repeal the the estate tax
• 50% deny the existence of man-made climate change
• 25% want to end birthright citizenship
Although those are all House members, the supposedly “adult” side of Congress doesn't appear to be even thinking about policy. In late October, Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell, told the National Journal - and repeated on television on election night - that
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
When the Congressional leadership is not abdicating its sworn responsibilities, it's delusional. House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner reiterating in his acceptance speech his determination to repeal health care reform, referred to America's “best health care system in the world.” What planet does this guy live on?
Cooperation with the Democrats and the White House? Not a chance.
Mainstream media is equally irresponsible. It was almost devoid of cogent analysis during the long campaign, also abdicating its responsibility to point out the lies of candidates and concentrating, as usual, only on the horse race. A news organization does not have to be partisan to call a freak bizarre, but they covered the ignorant and grotesque with the same “fairness” as the competent candidates.
They can't get even the simple stuff right. On Wednesday morning, Crabby Old Lady watched CNN's John Roberts tell Senator Harry Reid he had “eked” out a win over Sharron Angle. Reid took issue with that characterization and so does Crabby. Six points is hardly a squeaker.
Voters aren't off Crabby Old Lady's hook either. Oklahoma passed legislation outlawing the non-existent threat of Sharia law. And San Franciscans voted to take away toys from kids who don't order nutritionally correct Happy Meals. On “issues” such as these, it's hard for Crabby to not agree with the tea party about too much government.
The election of know-nothings, extremists and corporate sycophants comes down on no one's head more than ignorant voters – you know, the birthers, truthers and those who think painting a Hitler mustache on a photo of President Obama is a persuasive political statement. Unfortunately, that appears to succeed.
What gives Crabby gas is that too many elders are among the witless who are eager to vote against their own interests. As Saul Friedman details in his Gray Matters column on this blog tomorrow, elders so little understand their own health care program, Medicare, that they voted for the people who want to destroy it – and Social Security too.
Many tea partiers and Republicans railed in this election campaign against what they call the elite by which they seem to mean smart, educated, thoughtful. It is a long tradition in the United States to do so - just ask Adlai Stevenson who suffered through two campaigns being pelted with the “egghead” epithet.
Even in the best of times, we need intelligent leadership and this is pretty damned close to the worst of times. Crabby Old Lady is hanging on by a thread in hope that our country is not doomed through stupidity. Or gridlock. Whichever comes first.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Midlife Surprise