Gridlock became a dirty word in Washington after the Republicans regained the majority in the House of Representatives and stood in the path of the invader from Fantasy Island, shouting “Stop!” The president wanted a rubber stamp, and the Democrats agreed, demanding of the Republicans, “Why can’t you be like us?”
Once upon a time the inquisitive and the young, the reckless and the incurably naive wore their convictions on the rear bumpers of their Volkswagen Beetles: “Question authority.” Time marches on. Now those purveyors of rebellion have become the authority, and they want no further questions. “Shut up,” they advise.
Loretta Lynch, the president’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as the U.S. attorney general, faces question-and-answer time next week, and this will be the first opportunity for the new Republican majority to demonstrate that there’s a new and more just world on Capitol Hill. She will not necessarily face a hostile panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, nor should she. She is a known quantity as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, first appointed by President Clinton and reappointed by President Obama.
In his book, “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity,” John Stossel of Fox News bet his readers a thousand dollars that they couldn’t name one thing the government does better than the private sector. Eight years later he hasn’t had to pay anyone a dime. The government just doesn’t have the motivation, or the spur of competition, to perform services as well as private business.
The Constitution requires presidents to provide Congress with periodic information on the “state of the union” and President George Washington delivered the required information in a speech to a joint session of Congress in 1790. That turned out to be an unfortunate precedent. Most of his successors haven’t been able to resist making it an occasion for a speech, either.