Monday, November 08, 2010
Burning Down The House
It seemed no sooner had I taken occupancy, however, before I began having plumbing problems, like bathroom flooding and eternally dripping faucets. The plumber said the water pipes were rigged in a way that condensation from the air conditioner drained from the attic into the back of the porcelain throne. He used plastic piping to reroute the water across the attic floor and down the side of the house and installed a drip pan that needed periodic attention. A week later, I saw water spots and cracks in the living room ceiling and called an air-conditioning company to make an estimate on a home visit. The AC repairman couldn't believe that the unit was installed in the attic and imagined it had been like that for forty years. He placed plastic sheets beneath the pipes and informed me that soon, I was going to have to replace the entire system. My dreams of domestic tranquility were further shaken when a crack in the ceiling opened up as I scrambled for a bucket to contain the steady leak. It was early morning when Floyd and I awoke to a sudden crash from the other room that sounded like a meteor hit the roof. The entire ceiling in the living room had caved in covering the floor with soggy sheet rock and a substance that resembled oatmeal. The repairman just shook his head and said it probably took years for the ceiling to become so saturated.
I now had a new home that needed major repairs, so I became enraged at the house and decided to punish it. I called an air conditioning company whose main business was selling screen doors, and they didn't even believe in AC. I told them the stupid thing was broken and to go up there and do whatever it took to fix it, sort of like going to an auto mechanic and saying, "I'm not sure what the problem is, but spare no expense correcting it." Then I found the most fly-by-night contractors possible and they set about the business of disassembling my home to clear the attic of heavy equipment. When everyone was finished, the heat and air didn't work, holes in the ceiling revealed waterlogged crossbeams, and all the floors were warped from standing water. But I taught that damn house a lesson never to disappoint me again. When my anger had been sated, however, it was unlivable and I had to torch the place. As an American major said after the burning of a Vietnamese hamlet; "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
Of course, I'm lying about that last paragraph. I did what any sensible homeowner would; I put the place in order and sold it. My point is, intentionally damaging the house you live in over some repairable internal defects, is the same logic voters just used in attempting to put our other house in order: the House of Representatives. It was a creaking machine before, but rather than oil the wheels of government to turn smoothly, the American people chose to throw a whole bunch of monkey-wrenches, collectively known as the Tea Party, into the gears. If the electorate's intention was to slow the Obama agenda, they may have succeeded in bringing it to a screeching halt. Future Speaker, Orange John Boehner has already announced his first legislative priority is to repeal Obamacare. Big mistake. Not only would the Senate refuse to consider such a measure, the president would veto it if they did. The electoral red sea of 2010 was about jobs and unemployment. Everyone has a friend or family member who has been dismissed, downsized, cut back, or cut loose, and people are fearful. If the new congress decides to waste time re-hashing a year's worth of jabbering over health insurance reform instead of instituting a jobs program, they will face a blow-back that would give Newt Gingrich whiplash.
It will be interesting to see how the Tea Party newcomers get along with established Republicans. The country is still in a time of crisis and in desperate need of legislative compromise, but the Tea Party enters Congress with a mission; destroy Obama. If they could only snap out of it and see that Obama is more like Eisenhower than FDR, they might try to work with him for the common good. But don't expect any New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built public works and parks, or the Works Progress Administration, which hired the unemployed to build roads and bridges, (literally paving the way for the Eisenhower interstate system), coming out of this Congress. Their job is to slow down the workings of government and create enough political potholes for Obama to be defeated in 2012. The president either has a strategy, or he's a slow learner. He continues to extend an olive branch to the opposition and they continue to beat him with it. Speaker-elect Boehner often refers to himself as a "Reagan Republican." Unfortunately, he no longer means the former president, but his wife, Nancy, whose simple philosophy has encapsulated an entire political movement into three words; "Just Say No."