Will Durst

Politics as usual

By - Jun 23rd, 2010 04:00 am
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Glenn Beck, photo by Gage Skidmore on flickr.com (CC)In an age of relentless change, it’s heartening to be able to count on a few simple things. Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann ranting and raving one pulse short of an aneurysm. Water flowing downhill. Congress holding hearings whose only point is to express the indignant depths of their public outrage. It’s all good.

The spectacle of “politics as usual” is as reassuring as a warm bathrobe that’s been lined with Vaseline. It’s comforting to be reminded every now and then that no matter how urgent the crisis facing the American people, our politicians can and will find ample time to grandstand, even if their self righteous preening cancels out the teensiest possibility of actual progress.

I’m waiting for them to replace the gavel at these things with a hand-held mirror.

photo by Energy Commerce via flickr.com (CC)

Take the recent 7- hour theatrical farce featuring Tony Hayward. Please. Strictly following the prescribed testimony demanded of these august tribunals, British Petroleum’s CEO stuck to the script and adopted the role of a character afflicted with a severe case of selective amnesia. The man didn’t know anything. Including which industry he was in or how to wipe that priggy smirk off his face.

Hayward’s lack of sincerity was so complete that he actually might have put himself in jeopardy of being charged with impersonating a Congressman. The deceit, the whole deceit and nothing but deceit. His ability to be so utterly elusive, evasive and impossible to pin down could lead to a career filling in for the Roadrunner in future Looney Tunes cartoons.

Not to mention that grilling him on technical questions was predestined to be as fruitless as Antarctica in July. As CEO of a huge corporation, he’s got lackeys and minions and stooges and toadies for the heavy lifting of knowing stuff. Mr. Hayward’s job is to massage shareholders and pose for the cover of yearly financial reports and in times of trouble, act as designated fire hydrant to packs of media hungry dogs … or cartoon coyotes posing as concerned Congressmen.

This televised dramaturgy wasn’t ever about answers — this was pure stagecraft. Congressional hearings are to hypocrisy what green felt is to pool tables. Especially the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is code for “the Big Oil Boys,” as these are the same politicians who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions every year from the very people they’re supposed to be regulating.

Foxes, hen houses and flying feathers spring to mind.

The only person briefly maintaining a semblance of “integrity” was Rep. Joe Barton (R- Exxon- Mobil) who opened the proceedings by apologizing to BP for what he called a White House “shakedown.” At least this guy knows who his friends are. The very definition of an honest politician: one who stays bought.

But buyees remorse prevailed. Mere hours later, after a quiet tête-à-tête with the biggest dogs in the Republican Party, Barton emerged to call another press conference where he retracted his apology. That’s right. He apologized for his apology. For which we should apologize. Reportedly, the wolves threatened his Committee seniority, so he caved and covered his comfortable butt. Reverted to form. Back to the normal scheme of things.

Politics as usual, exponential factor four. Ain’t it grand?

  • Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comedian who often writes. This being a curious example. His new CD, Raging Moderate from Stand Up! Records, now available on both iTunes and Amazon. Coming this fall: Where the Rogue Things Go.
Categories: Commentary, Politics

0 thoughts on “Politics as usual”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What can one say when hypocrisy and corruption are in a neck and neck race to obliterate democracy? America will fall as Ancient Rome did, but with a lot more warning and blindness to precedent example.

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