Months of posturing on the House and Senate floors while battling over tax rates and unemployment benefits culminated in Tuesday night’s feigned display of brotherhood during the State of the Union address. Legislators made sure we knew that they were laying down their partisan pretensions by sitting next to the enemy during the president’s big speech.
During the now-forgotten controversy over extending the Bush tax rates, harsh invective ruled the day. The escalating war of words linked the wealthy to financial firms blamed for precipitating the recession, as if anyone making over $250,000 annually was by necessity employed on Wall Street.
While perusing the produce aisle of a grocery store last Saturday, I overheard a woman telling her companion that “Tea Partiers are killing Democrats in Arizona.” She had received a text message from a family member, so she knew her statement to be true, even though the shootings had been in the news for the past hour, and other than the usual media speculation, there was no evidence that any political group was involved.
2010 was a bad one, folks. At year’s end unemployment is barely changed. Small businesses are still struggling. We are so desperate for good economic news that favorable changes in indicators that would have gone unnoticed before the recession bring frenzied news flashes about a recovery.
Mitch McConnell likes to play both sides of the fence. Republicans built their midterm election resurgence on promises to cut spending, and by adopting Tea Party demands for Washington to reverse its course. McConnell sounded agreeable, even resolute, when he assented to a non-binding GOP earmark moratorium:
I have to lead first by example.