Saturday, July 29, 2017

Don't Do Something--Just Stand There. PLEASE!

"I called an extra session of the 80th Congress in 1947 and asked them to take action on the housing shortage. They didn't do it. They didn't do it at the regular session.

"Then I called another special session of the 80th Congress, after they had given us a platform in Philadelphia. In that platform, they stated that they were for certain things. When I called them back into session in July, what did they do? Nothing. Nothing. That Congress never did anything the whole time it was in session . . ."

President Harry S Truman
San Diego, California
September 24, 1948 

With the collapse of the Republican attempt to strip at least 20 million Americans of their health care insurance, I was put in mind of President Harry S Truman’s excoriation of the 80th Congress. He contributed to the American lexicon the term “Do-nothing Congress.” 

In a fine turn of historical irony the GOP, which once claimed to be the party of ideas, has turned into the party of nihilism—or perhaps it might be called, more fittingly, the Marxist party. Groucho Marxist, that is. In the 1932 movie Horse Feathers Groucho sings the following song (written by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar):

I don't know what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway
Whatever it is, I'm against it
No matter what it is
Or who commenced it
I'm against it

Your proposition may be good
But let's have one thing understood
Whatever it is, I'm against it
And even when you've changed it
Or condensed it
I'm against it

I'm opposed to it
On general principles
I'm opposed to it
(He's opposed to it)
(In fact, he says he's opposed to it)

For months before my son was born
I used to yell from night to morn
"Whatever it is, I'm against it"
And I've kept yelling
Since I first commenced it
"I'm against it”*

Considering what an absolute shower** Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, the Freedom Caucus, and almost the entirety of the rest of the GOP congressional delegation are, I shout, “Thank goodness for a Do-nothing Congress!”

Because it’s what they want to DO that’s the danger.

* Here’s Groucho singing it in the movie:

**Nobody surpassed Terry-Thomas in his rendition of this Briticism. Here he is in I'm Alright Jack:

I will admit that calling a political party Groucho Marxist was used many years ago about the British Labour Party. I don’t recall who wrote it or what magazine it was in (it may have been Punch, and that dates it). I have never forgotten it (or used it before). I figured that it was so long ago that it’s in the Public Domain.

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