Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Snuff Said

House Minority Leader John Boehner sat down with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and said that the plan to regulate Wall Street was like “killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.”

Boehner criticized the financial regulatory overhaul compromise reached last week between House and Senate negotiators as an overreaction to the financial crisis that triggered the recession. The bill would tighten restrictions on lending, create a consumer protection agency with broad oversight power and give the government an orderly way to dissolve the largest financial institutions if they run out of money.

“This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon,” Boehner said. What’s most needed is more transparency and better enforcement by regulators, he said.

So he thinks that the worst financial crisis in eighty years was insignificant? Really? What would it take to constitute a real financial crisis? A collapse of the proportion of Germany after World War I where a million marks could buy you a loaf of bread?

Perhaps his dismissal of what happened to millions of jobs and the collapse of the real estate market is based on the fact that it was a Republican who was in charge when it happened and that the loose financial regulations that allowed it to happen were written by Republicans. Had it happened during the term of a Democrat, you can be sure that Mr. Boehner would be calling it the Worst Catastrophe in the world.

He also opined that the Democrats in Washington were “snuffing out the America I grew up in.” As Keith Olbermann observed, growing up the 1950’s as Mr. Boehner did meant segregated schools, Jim Crow laws, anti-miscegenation laws, political assassinations, jail time for being gay, and polio. And the Edsel. Does Mr. Boehner really want to bring those things back?

He followed that with the claim that there’s “a political rebellion brewing, and I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since 1776.” By this he means, I suppose, those cranky white people who marched on Washington with the funny hats and the racist pictures of President Obama, or the bigmouths on Fox News and talk radio who basically want the government to stop interfering in their lives but then commandeer the boats to clean up the oil spill that was caused by President Obama picking on that nice BP and hey, don’t be late with my Social Security check! Is he kidding? I’ve seen angrier crowds when the manager was ten minutes late opening the doors at a Wal-Mart.

If Mr. Boehner thinks this is a political rebellion on the scale of 1776, I guess he forgot about that little thing called “The Civil War.” I know it was 150 years ago, but it was in all the papers. But then, given Mr. Boehner’s odd sense of historical proportion concerning the current economic situation, the war that killed millions of Americans and basically redefined the country was nothing more than just a battle between two ants.

I also find it disturbing that Mr. Boehner, along with a number of other Republicans, are cavalierly tossing around death and killing metaphors to describe the Democrats; they’re “snuffing out America,” or candidates talking freely about “taking out” their opposition through Second Amendment remedies or “gathering your armies,” not to mention the ubiquitous Hitler and Holocaust imagery that pops into the campaign ads from Alabama to Alaska. I realize all campaigns go overboard, but where the Democrats were mean to George W. Bush and called him names, these folks are skating a little to close to dangerous. There’s a difference between snark and death threats.