Bombast and Blather: A People’s View of Congress

Headlines in the May 8 edition of the Los Angeles Times read “GOP Can Win by Limiting Losses.” The article claims that “Discontent with the nation’s direction and the federal government’s performance is virtually screaming from public opinion surveys, which show approval ratings for President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress falling to their lowest levels.”

The article then goes on to report how GOP office holders are attempting to localize their races in an effort to escape what they perceive to be a national image of “Republicans being a rubber stamp for Bush...”

But, is that really a true perception? From a very unofficial viewing of three diversified groups in the southern tip of Texas, by this writer would be the distinct impression that everyone views Washington and Congress as nothing more than bombast and blather.

A group of Republican businessmen having lunch at the country club in Palm Valley, Texas have regular conversations about the President and Congress. They see Bush as stubborn to a fault and all too willing to follow bad council to the point of endangering his own administration.

These same business leaders view all members of Congress as equally corrupt, the Republican members as weak willed and the Democrat members as completely obstructionist.

At the Coffee Klatch in Harlingen, Texas local farmers gather for their morning break and discussions on everything from the current drought to the high cost of farm production. This is a Democrat area in a GOP state. The farmers have been voting a strong Republican ticket for years. Now they talk about either changing their party or not going to the polls in November.

Following a men’s Bible study at Rosita’s Cafe in San Benito, Texas the topic turns to politics. These are people who don’t think their congressman is doing a good job and think even less of poor performing Republicans in both houses of Congress and the Texas state legislature.

Granted, this is only a bird’s eye view of how our elected officials are seen performing their duties. Still, it may very well be the truth of how the American public is seeing government leadership everywhere.

A short list of complaints voiced by these three diversified groups indicates that Republican leaning voters fault the President and the GOP Congress for failing them on border security and immigration concerns, failing them on energy, failing them on ethics reform, failing them on meaningful Medicare reform and failing them on solving those pending Social Security short falls.

All of the government officials and agencies are found lacking in any meaningful legislation to curb lobbyist influence. They are all blamed for the lack of civil discourse in Washington. People in Texas also feel that the way our war effort is being undermined is a national disgrace.

Ask any South Texan how he or she feels about those in Washington and you are likely to hear “Everybody lies”. “You can never get an honest answer”. “They all leak national security information for their own benefit.” “If a congressman is honest when elected, he becomes a crook after a short time in Washington.” “Nobody in Washington gives a damn about the country of the people. They are just there to get reelected and fatten their wallets.” “They have fat egos, fat wallets, and fat heads.” Those are just a few of the more printable quotes.

So, is the GOP going to be able to repair its very damaged image? Is the president going to be able to repair his job approval rating? Are the Democrats going to be able to run on their tarnished perception? Is Congress going to be able to improve its reputation in the eyes of the country?

It will take a lot more backbone than any member has been able to display to date. As one old farmer told me, “The only thing missing from the election ballot is a box that reads... ‘None of the Above’!”

Los Angeles Times

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