Friday, July 29, 2011

Kabuki theatre

I have heard the debt ceiling debates described as "kabuki theatre," a highly stylized Japanese form of drama and dance with elaborate sets and costumes. Those who refer to the debates as "theatre" are strongly implying that they expect those debates to achieve little or nothing. Jim Quinn, in The Burning Platform, finds that, to the mainstream media, anyone not willing to act according to the kabuki rules is by definition an "extremist."

Kabuki would not work without the backstage people who create the sets and design the costumes. In the same fashion the Congressional kabuki requires smoky backrooms, Madison Avenue advertising people, and Congressional staffers to design the talking points.

Everything we have heard boils down to a few talking points on each side (quoting Mr. Quinn):
Republican Talking Points 
  • We refuse to increase taxes on all Americans to fix a spending problem.
  • Spending has been out of control since Obama took control of the White House (reference $800 billion stimulus package, home buyer tax credit, and Obamacare).
  • Say that Obama doesn’t have a plan and mention his ten year budget.
  • Tell the American people Republicans are fiscally responsible and the real party of change.
  • The people told them to change Washington with the 2010 election.
Democratic Talking Points 
  • The Tea Party EXTREMISTS have hijacked the Republican Party and want to destroy the country by forcing the country to default on its debt.
  • The Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars are to blame for the entire increase in debt and deficits.
  • The Republicans want to protect the richest Americans while cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits for the poor.
  • The Democratic Party will never cut Medicare or Social Security.
  • The Democrats are willing to compromise and act like adults, while the evil Republicans resist all offers to strike a deal.
Mr. Quinn then brings on board political consultant James Carville, who makes a revealing comment about the groupthink inside the Beltway:
Carville’s shrill diatribe against the Tea Party freshman in Congress was the most humorous piece of misinformation of his entire rant. He inadvertently struck upon the most revealing point of this entire debt ceiling farce. He said:

“These Tea Party congressmen act as if they don’t care if they are re-elected in 2012.” (Emphasis his)

Mr Quinn continues:
And there you have it. These people are not doing what is in their own best interest to get re-elected. They have shocked the vested interests in Washington by sticking to their principles and not playing the games that left the country bankrupt. This is an outrage to non-principled shills like Carville and Rove. This behavior is declared EXTREMIST by the liberal pundits and self interested Washington hacks. People acting in the long- term best interests of the country are seen as EXTREME by neo-cons like Charles Krauthammer and moderate RINOs like John “Crash” McCain. The entrenched Washington ruling class is uncomfortable with any change. The establishment would prefer to lie to the American public again and let future generations worry about the $100 trillion unfunded obligations they’ve created. 
Only in America would people trying to balance the national budget be branded extremists.
I believe that history will rehabilitate Barry Goldwater, who fought the liberal establishment of that day (and was buried by it). At the 1964 Republican National Convention, his quotation of Marcus Tullius Cicero proclaimed a truth that gives courage to people in every age who struggle in liberty's cause:

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (Emphasis mine)

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