By Richard Reeves
WASHINGTON—There are no outsiders inside the Beltway.
That may be an exaggeration, but it is a slight one.
It is unusual when the liberal Washington Post and the conservative Washington Times agree on anything other than the importance of the Washington Redskins to the survival of the fittest and of the Republic. But on the day after the day after the Republican/Tea Party victory in the 2012 midterm elections, both papers sort of giggled at the new and the recycled anti-Washington loudmouths coming or coming back to our capital city.
The Post’s front page headline was:
“The Agony and the Ecstasy of Washington: New House members may come in seething—and never go home.”
The lead story of the Times’ Commentary section used this headline:
“No Cuts, No Glory: GOP’s piddly promises augur budget disaster.”
So what else is new? Been there, done that.
Said Marc Fisher of the Post: “The victors of 2012, by and large, ran against Washington. They pledged to take back the country, to boot out politicians who had become creatures of Washington. Now they get to live here.”
My goodness! This hasn’t happened since the Republicans swept the 1994 midterms—or perhaps when the Democrats roared into power just two years ago. What the Post did was check what happened to the 73 new Republican “revolutionaries” who followed Newt Gingrich into power back then. Fourteen of them, it seems, are still in Congress. And the rest? More than half reneged on their promises to serve only three terms in this den of iniquity. They and most of the others stayed in Congress or stayed in Washington as lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, journalists, strategists.
“They run against Washington calling it a cesspool and discover that it’s really a hot tub,” said Craig Shirley, who came to town as an aide to conservative icon Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, and stayed to form a public relations company. That’s the usual story.
Linda Killian of the Woodrow Wilson Center, who wrote a book titled “The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution,” put it this way: “Most decided, ‘It’s great here in Washington and I want to stay, so I’ll figure out a way.’ People want to take you to dinner all the time and everybody’s hanging on your every word. By and large they become indistinguishable from the people they replaced.”
Bob Barr, a former congressman from Florida, member of that Republican class of rebels, added: “As soon as you get here, you find that a lot of those guys who supported you because you were going to shrink the size of government are banging on your door demanding that you bring home the bacon ... ‘Cut everyone else’s pork, not ours.’ ”
On the other side of town from the Post and the ideological divide, James Bacon of the Times mocked the new anti-government legislators, saying:
“In its Pledge to America, the GOP House leadership vowed to roll back government spending to ‘pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels,’ thus saving $100 billion a year and ‘putting us on the path to begin paying down the debt.’ Putting us on the path to paying down the debt? Whoever composed that line must have stayed up too late and taken way too much No-Doz. It’s blather. Rolling back spending $100 billion a year won’t accomplish anything.”
“Republicans swore in their pledge,” said Bacon, author of “Boomergeddon,” “to accomplish little more than Mr. Obama has already committed to deliver.”
So in Washington, the more things change, the more they are the same. As far as the deficit is concerned, there are only three options—and probably no chances—to reduce spending: cut Social Security and Medicare, cut military spending or raise taxes. Barring unforeseen crises, we will have noisy gridlock for two years, nothing will be done, nothing will happen.
© 2010 Universal Uclick