Now this is rich (pardon the pun)
If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.
It was no scheduling accident.
With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.
Oh the ironing!
Not too long ago The Angry Left (is there another kind? -ed.) pilloried Bush for not talking to the press and even less so, to the people. They were right. One of the President's jobs is to take his lumps from the Press Corp and, to a lesser extent, the public. Putting the Press Secretary out there as a bullet sponge week after week is part of the gig, but when big things are happening, he's gotta take some of the hits. Just the way it is when you sit in the big chair.
Now things are different. Ye Olden Rules are gone and the The New Rules are in. Now politicians need not speak to anyone unfriendly. Not on board with the drive for socialized medicine? Access denied. Townhalls participants decidedly less than fawning admiration? Cancel all further townhalls.
This is either a symptom or a cause of the increasing partisanship of the nation. By isolating your critics from you and putting them in the "them" camp, you're only confirming what they suspect and drawing lines between "us" and "them". Politics is supposed to be the art of compromise. Not on matters of principle mind you, but on law and policy. I want free enterprise virtually unfettered by law and government. I also know that is not practical and politically impossible. I am willing to make certain concessions to that end. I am not, however, willing to bend on the idea of capitalism and free enterprise. There are tradeoffs to be made and the wise man is the one who is going to realize that the sane, normal people are not the loudest. They are not at the poles, they're in the middle. Speak rationally, be able to address your critics with reason and sobriety and you'll win the day. I firmly believe that most people want mostly to be left to their own devices. They want to get up, go to work, come home to wife and kids (optional), recreate and then get up and do it again. Until the end. That's about it. Leave the average person to their own devices and most of them would thank you for it.
We're really at a crossroads here. The argument is a simple one. Do you want to centralize or decentralize? Do we want Big Oil to be an arm of the Department of the Interior? I don't. I don't think this spill would have happened if BP had been nationalized however. Never would have happened. Not because they'd have a superior safety record but rather b/c they never would have developed the technology to drill that deep. The only possible upside to nationalizing the oil industry would be the sudden sea change in the will to drill in ANWAR and other domestic, protected sites. Suddenly there would be some sort of reason why it would be all hunky dory. Then we could hope that in 2012 Americans wised up, threw the Centralizers out of office and de-nationalized (or privatized) BP again and left them to drill in ANWAR as a private concern. Then, and only then, would you see the prices drop.