ALAN GUEBERT: You can’t make up absurd stories from Congress
About a month ago, an editor friend replied to a draft copy of one of these weekly efforts with the simple email comment: “You’ve got to be kidding.”
My reply assured him I wasn’t kidding because, “No one, not even me, can make this stuff up.”
For example, could you make up the fact that when the circus, Congress, finally came back to Capitol Hill Sept. 9 after a five-week break, the House of Representatives had just nine days of work scheduled for the remainder of the month?
Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor must have heard the snickers from the hardworking heartland, because on Sept. 15, he threatened to cancel an eight-day “constituent work week” planned the week of Sept. 23 and keep his soft-handed, leather-bottomed colleagues in town.
For the House to remain in its oak-paneled salt mine that week, it would mark the first time the House remained in session five consecutive weeks for all of 2013.
I’m telling the truth. I couldn’t make that up.
Moreover, since the House legislative week almost always runs from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 3 p.m. Friday — true, again — sticking around for another week barely leaves time to for a second cocktail at a re-election fundraiser let alone the hard work it would require to approve, say, a farm bill.
Another problem in today’s Congressional soap opera is the never-ending name-calling that goes on among the clowns, er, members.
The latest example comes courtesy of a Sept. 16, New York Times story titled “Newcomers Challenge Leadership in the House.”
A key part of the story notes that “Representative Raúl R. Labrador, an Idaho Republican and fellow Tea Party conservative, said that he and Mr. Amash,” a two-term, GOP member from Michigan, “were part of a group he jokingly called ‘the Wing Nut Coalition — where you have the right wing and the left wing working together and trying to get things done.’ ”
Then, said the Idaho congressman of his fellow Wing Nutter from Michigan, “Mr. Amash … was ‘chief Wing Nut.’ ”
No way can I make up such insightful elegance. After all, it takes one Wing Nut to know another Wing Nut and at least two Wing Nuts to find out who is Chief Wing Nut.
I am nut making this up.
Over on the Senate side, worse name-calling went awing recently.
After Sen. David Vitter, R-La., attached a poisonous amendment to a bipartisan bill ticketed for easy passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid, DN.V., called the Louisiana Republican an “anarchist” and “hostage taker.”
Later, unnamed Democratic senators and aides piled on when they began “to dredge up past allegations that Vitter frequented prostitutes … ” reported Politico.
To ensure Vitter got the message that they were furious for his derailing Senate work, Politico reported “Democrats … drafted legislation (to) deny health care contributions to lawmakers for whom the ethics committee … determined there is ‘probable cause’ that he or she has ‘engaged in the solicitation of prostitution.’ ”
Friends, I’m looking you straight in the eye as I say this: I am not making this up.
In reply, Vitter issued a statement that, according to Politico, called “Reid ‘an old-time Vegas mafia thug’ ” and went on to accuse the majority leader of “bribery.”
Thieves, thugs or, er, solicitors, at the end of the day someone is calling all these people “senator.”
Then there’s this: For the second time this year, Chinese police have cracked a “fake beef” cartel that was using “pork, treated with chemicals including paraffin wax and industrial salts” to make, ah, something look “like it came from a cow.”
The police, according to Sept. 16 reports from Xi’an, seized 22 tons of the stuff after more than 3,000 pounds already had sold at $2.50 per pound.
OK, I admit, the Chinese can make stuff up. I can’t.