Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This Is How You Earn a 15% Approval Rating

Congress, not to be deterred by facts or reason, continues to press ahead with its "investigative hearings" on the "IRS Scandal". The latest casualty of this process: an IRS official who exposed the situation and was trying to fix it now finds the need to plead the 5th and refuse to testify to Congress.

I feel for this woman, but think the decision is entirely understandable. Expecting a fair and reasonable investigation from a Congressional committee these days is like expecting a happy ending to a Kafka novel - not only wrong, but foolish in the extreme. This has become a partisan witch-hunt as politicians pander to particular splinters of their base - those with the loudest voices and the loosest wallets. In that kind of environment, I too would probably rather the sharp but short shame of pleading the 5th than the lengthy torture of being raked over the coals so that someone else can score political points.

Belief among Americans that Congress is doing a good job has sunk into the 13 - 15% range, according to recent polls. Because of gerrymandering and the iron-clad lock of the two-party system, of course, the House is largely immune to the effects of this - most Americans hate Congress but aren't given much choice about who their own Congressman is. It is clear that Americans are convinced that ongoing bouts of partisan Kabuki theater are not in the country's best interests. We just haven't figured out what to do about it.

In the short term, my only suggestion is to ignore the idiots. The "IRS Scandal" is a tempest in a teapot. Even the most uncharitable reading of the facts suggests low-level malevolence with minor consequences at best - and that reading is unlikely to be the correct one. Like a tornado, this latest bout of manufactured Congressional outrage will blow through whatever we do; our best bet is to stay out of the way and hope it doesn't cause too much damage.

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