Alot has been made of President Obama's stunning rise from the ashes during the recently completed lame-duck session of Congress, and with good reason.
Congress passed several of Obama's pet pieces of legislation after (and perhaps because of) his agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Republican efforts to take the tax cuts and run home for the holidays were stymied by a surprisingly focused and disciplined Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, as one bill after another was pushed through and sent on to the president in what amounts to a comeback for the ages.
To use a basketball analogy, the president played lackadaisically for the first three quarters and fell behind by 20 points. Then, when fans were ready to give up, he started jacking threes. A few of them went in, and it turned what had been a blowout into a close game. It just makes one wonder why he hadn't been playing hard the entire game.
Credit has to be given to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who suffered slings and arrows from whiny-ass Republicans who stalled things for two years and then tried to renege on their end of the deal by mounting a shameless, religion-based campaign to cut the lame-duck session short. Reid is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion that some Christian sects have chosen to attack as non-Christian.
Anyway, a bunch of GOP knuckleheads accused Reid of being "sacrilegious" for making them work up close to Christmas, as though there aren't any churches in Washington, D.C., at which to worship if push came to shove.
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint had this to say: "What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians."
Yeah, except it isn't. Anybody who has been a Christian for more than five minutes knows that the entire faith is based around Easter. Christmas is more fun, but Easter is more important, unless, of course, you're being forced to vote on a law involving gays in the military.
It is certainly good news (and a feather in the president's cap) that the Senate ratified the New START Treaty. Everyone from Emil Franzi, locally, to Charles Krauthammer, nationally, was up in arms (pun unavoidable) over the treaty's narrow focus or, in some cases, its lack thereof. On that, I have to go back to my time-tested theory that, in matters of international relations, nations often act (and generally should act) in the same manner as do individuals in interpersonal dealings.
It goes like this: In 2001, Frank and his buddies (who were from Saudi Arabia) snuck up behind us, pushed us down a flight of stairs, and then went to hide at Bill's house (in Afghanistan). We dusted ourselves off and went to Bill's house so we could find Frank and kick his ass. But just as we were about to find Frank, we got distracted and went off to beat up Percy instead. Ten years later, Percy is generally beaten up, but Frank is still living out back behind Bill's house, thumbing his nose at us.
If the Nobel Committee ever decides to give an award in Simplified Diplomacy, I've got to be the front-runner.
Anyway, back to Franzi and Krauthammer. They (and a few others) are screaming that because Iran and North Korea present perhaps the greatest nuclear threats in the world today, the U.S. shouldn't sign a treaty with Russia.
What does that have to do with anything? That's like saying that because Bolivia and Cameroon are acting like jerks, we shouldn't sign a trade agreement with Canada. Or (for Nobel consideration) because Kya and Olivia refuse to dress out for P.E. and join their classmates, we can't be Allison's lab partner in chemistry. We'll just unfriend the other two on Facebook ... with extreme prejudice.
Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Arizona's two senators both voted against the ratification of the New START Treaty. Jon Kyl, who went all-in with whatever political capital he thought he had built up on the prospect that he could hem, haw, hedge and otherwise stall the vote on the treaty until after the lame-duck session, is the big loser here. He staggers away from the fight and comes off looking beaten, mean, petty and just plain wrong.
Did you see him after the vote? He looked like he was suffering from a self-inflicted mega-wedgie.
As for John McCain, who knows what he's thinking? After reversing himself and wussing out on the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" vote, he then pulled a Captain Queeg and doubled back over his own towline by voting against the New START Treaty, for which he had originally expressed support.
There's no way that he's ever going to get the GOP presidential nomination again, and I can't imagine that he'll run for another six-year Senate term in 2016, when he'll be 80. He doesn't have to kiss up to anybody or raise money for a re-election bid. Now is the time for him to be a maverick. He can be his own man and go his own way. Instead, he's clenching his butt cheeks and going all right-wing-ideologue on us.
It's actually kinda sad.