In the movie “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential election, the actor Ed Harris who played Senator John McCain portrayed two very poignant moments that validated why the Senator was a legitimate candidate for the White House. I mention these as Senator McCain deserves kudos for his recent impassioned comments calling out a congressperson for conducting a 2012 version of McCarthyism. In the movie, Senator McCain is seen calming down a strident follower who is berating Barack Obama as not being “one of us” and is un-American. The Senator had heard enough of this, so he gently said something like ma’am, I know Mr. Obama and he is a fine, decent public servant. I did not get the words just right, but the point he made is not to demonize his opponent. Yes, we disagree on issues, but we don’t need to crucify people. Ironically, since both were moderates, they were much closer on issues than their strident followers would have admitted at the time.
The other poignant moment came when Governor Sarah Palin was close to a meltdown having been thrown into so much, so fast before she was ready. Senator McCain’s response was “she needs her family,” so he arranged a family get together at his ranch in Arizona. These two moments, the first of which is recorded on the campaign footage, the second of which is easy to believe, show what a decent person and public servant he is. I mention these as context for what happened earlier this week.
Representative Michele Bachmann, the Chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, has been doing a Senator Joe McCarthy impersonation lately attacking selected individuals in various departments alleging they are furthering the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood. Senator McCain took offense at a set of accusations toward Huma Abedin, who is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. McCain labeled them “sinister accusations.” He added, “These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And, they need to stop now. I have every confidence in Huma’s loyalty to out country…I hope these ugly and unfortunate attacks on her can be immediately brought to an end and put behind us before any damage is done.” Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner added his voice to McCain’s to quiet the accusations.
As an American, I cannot tell you how proud I am that someone from the same party has stood up to another, at great risk, to say you need to reconsider what you are saying. To step in and defend someone is laudable. The fact that Boehner backed him up speaks volumes. This follows on a call made by former Governor Jeb Bush for the GOP to return to its roots and away from the extremism that is rampant in the party. He testified in front of Congress and has said openly that he would have taken last summer’s Boehner/ Obama negotiated deficit reduction measure of 10 to 1 expense cuts to revenue increases in a heartbeat calling it a “no brainer.” Yet, the deal was not supported by the Tea Party caucus.
I fully understand where the Tea Party is coming from, in particular with their focus on the deficit and debt. Yet, I strongly disagree with them on their position to not consider tax increases, as the data shows we are one of the least taxed countries in the world, per the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. But, from where I sit as an Independent voter and even if I was in the GOP, I believe if the Tea Party continues to hang their hat on people like Rep. Bachmann, they truly should not be taken seriously. When I watch talk shows where she is a participant, like many I come away with an impression that she won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Our issues are many and we need serious people to discuss them in a serious way. We do not people to manufacture issues and waste taxpayers’ time and money investigating witch hunts. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke just told Congress this week that they need to act now and not wait until the end of the year on the actions that will automatically transpire without change. The automatic income tax increases and 2% FICA tax hike will be harmful to the economy. Yet, they also need to address the longer term deficit issue. This is the same message that is being given by the World Bank, Simpson-Bowles and the S&P who downgraded the US bond rating last summer.
What we don’t need is representatives like Ms. Bachmann taking people’s eye off the ball to pursue witches. Senator McCain, well done sir and kudos for being a voice of reason trying to bring this fairy tale back to reality. Speaking out in favor of someone in the face of adversity shows your fortitude and make-up. And, Speaker Boehner, my hats off to you as well. Now, let’s get back to business and adopt something like Simpson-Bowles and get us back on a better financial path.