Big Three a Thorn in Our Side for Decades -- Thus We Must Reward Them, NY Congresswoman Tells Radio Host Ed Schultz

Democrats in Congress say the darndest things, don't they? 

My favorite recent example -- 10-term Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York talking with liberal radio host Ed Schultz on Tuesday about why she voted in favor of bailing out Detroit (click here for audio) --

SCHULTZ: The Big Three, how did you, you voted in favor of that.

SLAUGHTER: I did, because one in 10 jobs in the United States is tied to what happens to them. I've been on their back as long as I can remember. When I was in the state legislature in the '80s, we passed a seat belt law in New York. And they fought us tooth and nail and (said) if they had to put in seat belts in cars they would surely go broke. And I remember that just before I went down to vote an ophthalmologist from my district called and said, please go down and tell them how hard it is to dig glass out of eyes. But they fought every thing in the world that we ever tried to do, always at the same time that the foreign automakers were doing it and cleaning their clock. I've never understood their reluctance really to do things to help themselves. I guess their political situation was just so good in Washington they didn't have to worry about it.

SCHULTZ: But do you think they've turned the corner in the last four or five years?

SLAUGHTER: No! No, I don't even think they've started. What I'm most impressed about is what we have done already was the energy bill that passed a year ago around December that gave them $25 billion, which is what we've been trying to keep them away from, to build green, uh, clean cars, green cars, to retool their factories. In the United States, one of the things that's really been sorrowful to me, apparently in Europe they build efficient cars with good mileage there but they don't, they can't manage, somehow it's impossible, it's beyond them to do it here. 

SCHULTZ: Uhm hmm.

SLAUGHTER: But, we can't let 'em fail, I'll say that. I mean, we just simply cannot.

Seeing how they've done such a bang-up job! Look no further for textbook example of Democratic doctrine on rewarding failure and, by extension, punishing success. Writers for Leno, Letterman, Stewart, etc., in search of comedic fooder could do far worse than commence a Google alert for "Louise Slaughter." 

Needless to say, Slaughter's odd rationale for the auto bailout didn't set off any alarms for Schultz, another kneejerk advocate.

Where have I seen this perverse dynamic before? I wondered after hearing Slaughter. Then I remembered a first-person account in the May 2004 issue of The Atlantic Monthly by former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines of events leading to the Jason Blair scandal, which ended Raines' quarter-century tenure with the Gray Lady.

About a decade earlier, Raines and a dozen other Times editors attended a retreat to be coached by a management consultant named Doug Wesley. Raines wrote --

In his introductory seminar Wesley announced the lesson for the day: how to fire people. Then he divided us into smaller workshop groups ... The groups practiced termination interviews built around Wesley's main precepts ...

After several hours of such role-playing we again gathered, so that Wesley could hear our comments and answer our questions. At the appropriate time I asked why we were being given this exercise, since at The New York Times we never fired anyone.

Wesley seemed surprised. What do you do with unproductive employees? he asked.

We just give them less work to do, I said, to a laughing burst of assent from the other editors in the group.

Slaughter's comments also brought to mind P.J. O'Rourke's timeless description of the difference between Democrats and Republicans, from his 1992 book "Parliament of Whores" --

I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's non-threatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without thought of a quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts