The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Banner week for TNR

Somebody must've spiked the Ovaltine at The New Republic's offices, because they've suddenly got some fired-up writing appearing. I could criticize their recent shift toward useless pop culture criticism, but if their political writing continues to read like this book review and editorial (not to mention catching McCain taking dough from political operatives who've trashed him in the past), I could forgive a lot.

How the GOP ruined the House

"Objectivity," Michael Kinsley recentlywrote, "is less an ideal than a conceit." And indeed, many professional reporters' fetishization of the concept too often elevates a morass of on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand-ism above the truth. Fight Club Politics by former Washington Post congressional correspondent Juliet Eilperin illustrates this problem well. She closely examines an important topic: How extreme polarization is destroying the House of Representatives. But in her unwavering commitment to political neutrality, Eilperin ultimately offers a book that obfuscates more than it illuminates. She is unwilling to state what is obvious to even a casual student of Congress: The House as it currently exists--a place where the leadership operates as a virtual arm of the executive branch and where traditional rules of debate and amendment have been suspended--is a product of Republican control. Evenly distributing the blame for this state of affairs between Democrats and Republicans is to value "objectivity" above reality.

Gentlemen, start your subpoenas!

GOP control of Congress deserves to end this year, not least because Republicans have abused--and then abandoned--government oversight. Six years of chasing every wild accusation leveled against the Clinton administration have been followed by almost six years of near-total deference to the executive branch. In the Clinton years, a single House committee, Government Reform, issued over 1,000 subpoenas and spent millions of dollars investigating the White House and the Democratic Party. More than two million pages of documents were handed over. In one inquiry alone--the grave matter of the politicization of the White House Christmas list--Republicans took 140 hours of testimony.

Both of these stories address concerns that have been primary issues with many progressive blogs since before the last election cycle. Better late than never.