Friday, December 02, 2011

Newt and Barney

  I see that Barney Frank says that Newt Gingrich is "'the single biggest factor' in destroying Washington culture." I can almost feel the blowback from Newties and Newtettes determined to show you that the real culprit is Barney Frank.

I come down as a Frankite on this one. I'm one of that cadre who has long thought to be the razor-smartest, the wittiest person in Congress since Daniel Patrick Moynihan--and perhaps more important, the one most completely in control of his brief.

But with two important qualifications, both of which argue for the proposition that it probably is really time for him to go.

One, I think he is suffering from an advanced case of that variety of Washingtonitis who believes there is no problem too big or to be small to be addressed by the therapy of legislation--even if that means legislative enactment somewhere near the size and complexity of the Ramayana.

Take financial regulation (Dodd-Frank!) take health care (please!) --take any other major and many less important legislative initiatives of the last generation. For good or ill (and there is a lot of good), one drawback of virtually all of these items is the symptoms of advanced elephantitis--bills that no one person, not even Barney Frank--could possibly understand and which, therefore, cannot possibly be made intelligible to a democratic populace.

I think I know the reason for this insidious malady--namely, stuff happens. Nobody planned it this way, things just evolved over time to the point where you can't expect a measure to be taken seriously unless it bottles up whole swamps full of primordial ooze. Every congressman wants a voice; every lobbyist wants a voice; every voice wants a voice of its own.

And it gets worse. That is: no measure escapes from Capitol Hill any more without by its very nature generating lifetime employment for a new generation of Congressional staffers--not to speak of Congresspersons and Senators themselves. I suppose you can fight over just exactly how insidious this (on a scale from "apocalyptic" to "not very apocalyptic"), but there it is.

And to whom is this sub-issue most likely to be invisible. Hah, you guessed it: to Barney Frank and his kindred who are so accustomed to their way of doing business that they can't even recognize the problems they cause for the rest of us.

No comments: