Scandals distract from reality

During the past four months, the press has been interested in titillating controversies from Benghazi to the Internal Revenue Service. Many of these have been diluted steadily either by Republican overstatement or the media’s tendency to blow up petty matters and make them seem larger.

From the bloviating Carl Bernstein to the stern schoolmaster George Will, there has been a failed attempt to stir up coals to start major fires. At the end of Barack Obama’s alleged “worst week,” his approval rating stood at 53 percent favorable.

What was missed was that the deficit has declined from 10 percent in 2010 to 7 percent in 2011 down to 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Unemployment has steadily been reduced and the stock market has been in record territory. All the while those spokesmen for the prosperous, nearly all the financial channels and the Wall Street Journal continue to pound on the theme that reducing the deficit is the No. 1 domestic priority.

The stimulus would have never been passed if the House of Representatives had the same composition as it does now. Thus, recovery may have never occurred. The present Legislature reminds one of those old Southern assemblies who frustrated cries for improved roads and education by evoking shop-worn constitutional cliches and cries for a return “to our splendid pay as you go programs.” Of course, this was a battle cry for doing nothing.

For conservatives who recklessly want to limit the power of the state in a modern world, the approaches favored by rural Tories seem satisfactory. Meanwhile, our roads and bridges deteriorate and educational institutions struggle to compete in the contemporary world. This push for Constitutional fundamentalism proves detrimental to the progress of the nation.

For Republicans, the world would be better if most towns were under 20,000 and the culture homogeneous. It seems to pain them that the history of the United States has been marked by serious collaborations between business and government. Transcontinental railroads, interstate highways, second-to-none research facilities have been a byproduct of both capitalism and government. Ironic it is that this vision was given to the republic first by the Whig Henry Clay and the second Republican Party.

Libertarianism is not helpful in providing solutions to new problems. Simply strictly constrict the constitution and all will be well. Everything will be solved by the “magic” of the marketplace.

That the United States is the foremost nation in the world and needs to keep that role through a strong government seems not to dawn on Rand Paul and his cronies. Obstructionism and individualism seemed to be their only solutions.

That we are a commonwealth and not simply a collection of localities and singular interests requires a far more active government than envisioned by present day conservatives.

It is amusing to see right wingers muse as to how these synthetic “scandals” will hamper Obama’s second-term agenda. Nothing was getting done anyway, not certainly on those issues of vital importance such as economic growth and infrastructure. Politics of “no, go slow, veto” are a luxury that the country can no longer afford.