As the United States struggles to solve a myriad of entrenched systemic problems—the list, according to NYT columnist David Brooks: “the lack of consumer demand, the credit crunch, the continuing slide in housing prices, the freeze in business investment, the still hefty consumer debt levels and the skills mismatch,not to mention regulatory burdens, the business class’s utter lack of confidence in the White House, the looming explosion of entitlement costs, the public’s lack of confidence in institutions across the board”…he may have missed one or two—it is alarming how many prominent individuals have announced their readiness to abandon representative democracy or part of it. Even the President himself has wistfully said that he wishes he could bypass Congress. His former budget director, Peter Orszag, has an essay in the current New Republic is which he calls for “less democracy.” Hollywood liberals have been quick to follow this theme; Woody Allen told an overseas journalist that the United States would be better off if Obama could be a benevolent dictator.
I think this is playing with fire and irresponsible in the extreme, particularly given the last item in Brooks’s list. This position is especially irresponsible when it comes from elected officials in high offices, and thus it isn’t surprising that when Nouth Carolina’s Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, told a rotary club event in Cary, N.C. …
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that”
…commentators in the media expressed alarm. Her PR team’s official response? Perdue spokesman Chris Mackey wrote that she was only joshing: “Come on … Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.”
Really? Then she really has to work on her delivery. Listen to this recording. Is there the slightest hint or inflection in it that the Governor wasn’t being completely literal and serious? (True–we can’t tell if she was wearing Groucho glasses and had a fake arrow through her head.) The excuse is a lie, and Gov. Perdue was serious….which means she is irresponsible and untrustworthy, not to mention Constitutionally illiterate, an probably as dumb as a doorstop. I don’t want people in elected positions of leadership advocating the suspension of elections. I’m funny that way.
“It was just a joke” is a tried-and true dodge that has been around forever; I wrote about it here. (Aside: For some reason, this post has been latched onto by spammers, and I get 20-50 spam comments on it every day. It’s nice to be able to reference it legitimately.) As I wrote over a year ago, it is an especially bad excuse when the supposed joker is a politician, and the context can be checked. When Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley’s embarrassing identification of Yankee-killing Red Sox pitching hero Curt Schilling as “a Yankee fan,” her gaffe (I think it lost her the election to Scott Brown as much as anything else) was explained by her spokesman as “a very dry joke.” What that pathetic excuse told everyone was not that Coakley was a secret Red Sox fan and in the possession of the dryest sense of humor since Calvin Coolidge, but that she would lie to get herself out of a gaffe, and that she thought the voters were idiots.
The same conclusion applies to Perdue…that, and the fact that she thinks suspending democratic elections is a good idea, just like her apparent role models, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Idi Amin.
Clarence Darrow said that “In order to have enough freedom, its is necessary that we have too much.” As usual, I’m with Darrow. And I’m not joking.