How Not to Build Consensus

As I recall, the message out of the November election’s ratification of divided government was that Americans wanted both sides to work together, right? (We’re remarkably generous in imputing teleology to the electorate). If so, this is probably not how you get there. From the Hill:

In a sign of just how charged and hyperbolic this year-end debate [over the fiscal cliff] has become, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., used an unfortunately timed comparison that likened Republicans trying to use the debt limit for leverage on spending cuts to people threatening to shoot their own children.

“It is somewhat like taking your child hostage and saying to somebody else, ‘I’m going to shoot my child unless you do what I want done.’ You don’t want to shoot your child,” Hoyer said at a press conference following a brief 10-minute pro forma session for the House.

I think we can safely say that “unfortunately timed” doesn’t quite cover it. This way be the worst time to insert a child-shooting metaphor into a discussion of fiscal policy, but is there ever a good time? And was that last sentence — “you don’t want to shoot your child” — a necessary capstone to the discussion? One imagines a shooting star over Hoyer’s head as he finishes the line and “The More You Know” appears behind him.

I hope the incoming freshmen members of Congress are taking notes. For their edification, the following are comparisons that are never going to work out for you under the Capitol Dome: anything regarding the Nazis or the Holocaust, terrorism, murder, child abuse, or likening America to some totalitarian regime. 

Also, a few other pointers: The tendency for elected officials to pronounce something “Orwellian” is inversely correlated with the likelihood they’ve actually read Orwell; Please do not call for “an adult conversation,” “a serious debate,” or a “solutions-oriented approach” from the floor of your chamber — facilitate the conversations, debate, or solutions yourself. It is supposedly what we’re paying you for; Finally, keep in mind that silence is a useful tool for elected officials, if for no other reason that its capacity to act as a cloaking device for stupidity.

  1. Paul J. Croeber

    Why on earth do they continue to blunt the point by sharpening the rhetoric?  In the age of the soundbite it couldn’t hurt to exhibit an ability to deliver one without mangling the message. 

  2. Guruforhire

    The problem as I see it is that political scorched on the part of the left has been paying off for the left for about 10 years now.

    The left pays no price for over the top rhetoric.

  3. Raxxalan

    Because they have the media on their side; however, I wonder if that can last forever. It may be a finite reasource that is being consumed or at least diluted. I think they pay a price though in the long run. If only because they look ridiculous. Additionally, I don’t think it benefits statist to have a general perception that government is broken. The net result of this type of grandstanding tends to reinforce that narrative.

  4. iDad

    It’s the Tea Party extremists’ fault.

  5. WI Con

    Reporter: “Rep. Hoyer-could you explain how the Democrat controlled Senate refusing to pass a budget or even bring one up for a vote (unlike the GOP controlled House) in over 3 years is like a parent holding a gun to their child’s head exactly?”

    Guruforhire is correct. The reason this continues is because they are never called on these statements by the MSM. Never.

  6. Leigh

    It’s called not thinking before you speak.  From what I can recall of Steny Hoyer I doubt he really intended to imply that his Republican colleagues would shoot children — he’s not Maxine Waters.  Just a very poorly-considered analogy, unfortunately delivered in front of a television camera.

  7. Guruforhire
    WI Con: Reporter: “Rep. Hoyer-could you explain how the Democrat controlled Senate refusing to pass a budget or even bring one up for a vote (unlike the GOP controlled House) in over 3 years is like a parent holding a gun to their child’s head exactly?”

    Guruforhire is correct. The reason this continues is because they are never called on these statements by the MSM. Never. · 3 minutes ago

    They are never called on it by the right either, at least not to their face in a venue that matters.

  8. Goldgeller

    It’s not really a new story right? For the last 4 years the right has been accused of being some form of murderer or extremist because we didn’t want to spend the amount of money the left wanted us to spend. 

    The funny thing is that it isn’t like conservatives in Congress are requesting major spending cuts, it isn’t like someone from Cato or AEI is running the show. There will still be tons of spending and deficits for a long time out. It really just goes to show just how much the left wants to increase the size of government. 

  9. Paul Dougherty

    I happened to listen to the whole press conference on CSPAN radio. The selected comments on this post were not an aberration. Fifteen minutes of solid denegration of the Speaker and Republicans. This got me to thinking that this “fiscal cliff” is not what it is being cracked up to be. I have yet to hear in the tone of speech of anyone involved, a clear sense of impending doom for the country they love. No sincerety to be found. All the reporters are paniced, but none of the politicians. I would think there would be at least a faked, pleading desperation from someone.

  10. DocJay

    Sadly, a stalemate with our current bloated spending is the best we get.   Just wait for Hoyer’s next analogy to the Armenian genocide,  he’s a laugh a minute.  

  11. KC Mulville

    What did the last election teach Democrats? That constant, unapologetic mudslinging … works. Look for more of it.

  12. billy
    KC Mulville: What did the last election teach Democrats? That constant, unapologetic mudslinging … works. Look for more of it. · 34 minutes ago

    For that matter, what did eight years of marching through the streets portraying Bush as Hitler accomplish for the left? He is loathed by a fairly sizable portion of the population. The goal is to demonize the Republican label as thoroughly as they have the name George W. Bush.

  13. Lance Robinson

    Many of our public figures could learn from a charge to a committe on which I once participated: “Don’t be afraid to leave a thought unspoken.”

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