Last Friday, the United States House of Representatives adjourned without voting on an offshore drilling bill supported by the Republicans. Instead of adjourning and going home for the five week recess that was scheduled, hilarity ensued.
The Republicans stayed, talking on the floor to "debate" the energy bill. In response, the Democrats turned off the microphones and the lights. A Republican Congressman figured out how to brute force the A/V closet and got the microphones back on. They tried to marshal the press out of the press room with the Capitol Police until a Republican decided to host an impromptu press conference.
To "pad" the numbers of people on the floor, they allowed staffers and visitors down and were shouting back up to the gallery and back. In short, it was a little bit like 7th grade homeroom when the teacher leaves the room.
Well, the Republicans decided that it was so much fun, they are doing it again today. To be fair, energy policy is something that merits serious consideration, but childish antics more suited for playgrounds than Congress is not the way to go about it.
But it appears that a faction, a small one at that, of Republicans have been spurred on by unserious pundits and activists. I say a small faction because this morning, RedState sent out a desperate e-mail for anyone in the DC area to head down to the House floor. That's right, they want the fever swamp bloggers down there to hoot and holler like it’s a high school house party when mom and dad are away. Of course, RedState is not new to childish and superficial politics.
Energy policy is a serious issue and families are being pinched by higher (albeit now falling) gas prices. I've been driving all around the state of Illinois in my pickup for a campaign I'm running, and I can tell you first hand its rough. We do need a diversified energy portfolio for this nation. Offshore and ANWR drilling certainly is part of that, as are other programs, such as expanded nuclear and wind power.
The Democrats, for their part, have shown themselves unwilling to deal with the issue, at least before Election Day. They have every incentive, the more pain people feel at the pump, the more they blame the party that controls the White House. It's a transparent hope that they drag their feet until November and then ride in to the rescue, showing the Democrats as the "energy" party. It isn't the first time someone played politics with important legislation; it won't be the last.
However, instead of carrying that message or showing that even Barack Obama is starting to support a new energy policy, childish games ensue. What happened to the party of ideas?
Instead of an intellectual advancement of a sound energy policy, the oxygen is sucked up by infantilism. The voters are fed up by politicians who are not advancing their values and they want solutions. They are so fed up, many have whole-heartedly embraced a mirage of hope and change. It should tell Republicans something that a strong chunk of the electorate has placed their hopes in cleaning up Washington on a … Chicago machine Democrat.
While it may be giddily amusing to engage in a general ruckus on the House floor, nothing is well-served. With the Republicans going into an election cycle where the conventional wisdom declares it to be a blood-bath-in-advance for them, you'd think they wouldn't give voters yet another reason to throw them out of office. Maybe they've already resigned themselves to defeat. I'd rather they be the party of ideas and leadership and not "a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more." At least those engaging in the antics are the minority of Republicans.