Last week, I examined President Obama’s continuing incorrect use of the word “hostage.”
Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid butchered the word “bipartisanship.” This is just wrong on so many levels. While hostages have little or nothing to do with the U.S. presidency except in Hollywood action films, the term “bipartisan” is actually central to our functioning government. The fact that Senator Reid doesn’t seem to know what it means concerns me.
Here’s the situation.
Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been working frantically to come up with a deal to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling on terms Reid and the White House like. The “deal” includes nothing to affect ObamaCare which, for those who can remember that far back, was the reason the government shutdown began in the first place.
Evidently, Reid was very pleased with the way things were going. He was getting what he wants in a manner so satisfying that some Democrats were already crowing about the Republicans’ surrender.
So in comes John Boehner and the House Republicans this morning with a proposal of their own which would include delaying the medical device tax for two years, requiring Congress and the Obama administration to follow ObamaCare like the rest of us, and mandating that people who want government subsidies prove their income. All of that seems reasonable and publicly popular. As late as this afternoon, they reduced their proposal to simply requiring Congress and the Obama administration to abide by ObamaCare.
Reid immediately went to the Senate floor and came undone over the proposal calling it an “attack on bipartisanship.”
Let’s return to our handy dictionary that we visited last week when the Yosemite tourists were taken hostage . . . er . . .detained.
Bipartisanship is defined as follows: “Of, consisting of, or supported by members of two parties, especially two major political parties.”
Senator Reid would argue, of course, that since he was negotiating with Senate Republicans, he was engaging in a bipartisan activity. That’s true, so at least he understands that much.
Perhaps his problem isn’t so much with vocabulary but with basic civics. Maybe he should pull up You Tube and look at that School House Rock favorite, “I’m Just a Bill.” There he would see that Congress is made up of the Senate (where he is) and the House of Representatives which he can easily get to via an underground train beneath the U.S. Capitol building. Over there he would find that they have committees and leaders, and they vote on bills just like they do on the Senate side. Anything that goes to the President for his signature must first be voted on and thus agreed to by both the House and the Senate. (You’d think he’d already know this to have gotten all the way to the top job on the Senate side.) Thus, he can be all kinds of bipartisan with Senate Republicans, but if the House doesn’t agree, it doesn’t matter.
What Harry Reid is upset about is not an “attack on bipartisanship.” No, he’s mad because House Republicans are doing their job which is to offer a deal they could agree to. If he and John Boehner could work out something, that’s the only “bipartisanship” that really matters at this point.
In the meantime, we should really consider a requirement that all persons interested in seeking public office pass a basic vocabulary and civics test to prove that they understand the job they’re seeking. Maybe we could just require that they pass the test for naturalization for U.S. citizenship. Then we could at least all start from a position where everyone understands what’s going on.
Otherwise, embarrassing displays like the one Harry Reid put on today will sadly continue.