Regular ShrinkRap readers know this is one of my favorite aphorisms: If you want the truth, listen to the clowns. Shakespeare said it throughout his plays 500 years ago. Late night TV hosts, who speak through satire (like Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers) are our current truth-tellers. And then there is the occasional Washington politician.
1. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) doesn't usually prove this aphorism. He's very definitely the clown of the Republican House, but usually he is just a nutty kind of clown, given to wild, "Islamic terrorism" and "terror babies" conspiracy theories; not the purveyor of truth and wisdom.
But now, this week, here's what our Clown-in-Chief had to say about why he opposed the American Health Care Plan:
"Because it makes more political sense to keep the current law than to start rewriting it. . . . A no vote means we save Donald Trump from a Democratic majority in 2019. If this passes, then Obamacare stays."
Actually, he's basing this purely on political calculation, and I think he is dead right -- even though we come at it from opposite sides on Obamacare. From his perspective, if they passed the Ryan/Trump bill, Republicans would be blamed for taking away their health insurance. Passing their bill would be worse, politically, than letting Obamacare stay.
Beyond that, however, what does it say about the judgment of Ryan and Trump, and all the other Republican leaders, who pushed this terrible bill? It became a bit absurd in itself when they were trying to accommodate the Freedom Caucus demands.
2. And then there's Rick Perry who, just incidentally, I discovered once appointed this same Louie Gohmert as Chief Justice for the 12th District Texas Appeals Court. But that's not why Perry's on my list of absurdities. He brings his own.
He is now known as Secretary Perry, head of the Department of Energy and a member of the Donald J. Trump presidential cabinet. Think for an absurd moment who his predecessors in this position were. President Obama had two terms and a different Energy Secretary each term. Both were esteemed nuclear physicists, one with research and academic credentials and a Nobel Prize; the other was a nuclear scientist with vast experience running government nuclear weapons laboratories and was a key negotiator of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Now we have Rick Perry, with an undergrad degree from Texas A and M University in animal science (formerly called "animal husbandry," because it has to do with breeding and care of farm animals). Then he was Governor of Texas for 12 years. He is perhaps most widely known for his "Oops" debate moment, when he failed to remember the third department he had said he would eliminate if elected president. (Hint: they all began with "E" -- EPA, Education, and . . . wait for it . . . Energy!!!)
To his credit, as governor, he had a lot of experience dealing with oil and gas production. Texas has a lot of oil and gas. And that's energy, isn't it? It also has a lot of wide open spaces that are good for wind turbines. So he did encourage the development of wind power. But, alas, it turns out (little did he, or the one who appointed him, know) that the Energy Department deals mainly with the maintenance and safety of our nuclear arsenal and negotiating non-proliferation treaties, etc.
Perry qualifies as a clown because of that "oops" moment and, frankly, for his too too obvious lack of qualification for the job. His last gig before becoming the Energy Secretary was as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars." He didn't do too well. Sadly, he got eliminated pretty early in the contest.
But what brings him to this absurdities list this week was a story in Friday's New York Times. It seems Secretary Perry took time out, from studying to master his current job, to write an op-ed piece for the Houston Chronicle in which he expressed his consternation at the "mockery of due process and transparency" that "allowed an election to be stolen outright."
WOW! Has our Energy Secretary discovered some new evidence that shows Hillary Clinton really won? Or, more likely, is he referring to his boss's claim that he-Trump really won the popular vote as well?
Actually, neither. He's referring to the election for President of the Student Government Association at Texas A and M, his old alma mater. It turns out, according to the Times article, that Perry probably isn't correct in what he says about that student election; but, hey, the guy who lost the SGA race was the son of a big Texas Republican donor. We all have our loyalties, I guess.
I'm impressed that Secretary Perry could manage all that boning up on nuclear energy and world peace treaties and keeping all our nuclear warhead silos safe from terrorist threats, and stuff like that -- and still find time to pay attention to what's happening at the old college campus student government election.
Damn, what a loyal alumnus. I'll bet that guy who lost the election was a fraternity brother, come to think of it. And wasn't Perry a cheer-leader back in the day? Or was that Dubya? I b'lieve they both wuz, tell you the truth. Only Dubya went to SMU instead.
I think the Alumni folks ought to give Secretary Perry an award, with a plaque and all. That would sure look good right up there on the wall, next to the proclamation that came with that other feller's Nobel Prize. It sure would.
Wonder if Mr. Trump knows what a Nobel Prize is? Here, you want a choclate? My Mama always says life is like a box of choclates; you never know whacha gonna get. Oops. Just naturally slipped into Forrest Gump-speak.
3. But I digress. Here's the prize absurdity of the week. As the Ryan/Trump American Health Care Act debacle was collapsing around him, and Trump announced that he and Ryan had agreed to withdraw the bill from consideration, Trump had a ready answer for whom to blame: the Democrats. Of course.
Yes, "We got no votes from Democrats." That's why the bill died. Note: Republicans have a 41 vote advantage, with one of the biggest majorities in modern times. They could afford to lose 20 of their own members and still pass this bill without a single Democratic vote. So Trump's blame-game is absurd on the face of it, and he merely looks childish: "No, it was Susie's fault. She did it."
Well, you know what? It doesn't matter what he thinks. It's his loss, along with Ryan, and all the Republicans. It's a win for the Democrats. But mostly it's a win for the American people, because they're so much better off keeping what we have now --- and working from there to improve health care. And it's a win for all those activists who went to rallies and town hall meetings and demanded that their reps not take away their health care.
4. Now the week's list of absurds wouldn't be complete without this little snippet from my cell phone. On Saturday morning, as I was reading on my phone a Washington Post news story about Trump's failure to close the deal on the health care bill, right there in the middle of the article about Trump's failure to get the vote count up, there was a pop-up ad for . . . you guessed it !!! Viagra. I swear I did not make this up.