June 3, 2023

Toothless People

Toothless People

Toothless PeopleThis should square everything away. Thank heaven they’re stepping up at last.

The kids better straighten up and and quit the horseplay or Mom and Dad might come downstairs. That was the message from Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid this week with the superdelegate situation getting more and more precarious. They’re getting serious: They’re going to write a letter. Maybe even two.

This is what passes for political clout in 2008. You might get a letter. All around the Capital and the country right now, Governors, Congressmen, and Senators are in flopsweats wondering how they can get their mailrooms to run interference for them, lest they get that come-to-Jesus piece of correspondence that tells them to fall in line post haste.

This is the next step in the latest escalation of an intrigue that began percolating last month when Harry Reid intoned, Michael Corleone-like, that the superdelegate situation would be settled. “It will be done.


“No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean today. Things are being done.”

That was over a month ago when it was stated that things were being done. That must be one hell of a letter.

Never mind that no one is capable of resolving this. Most of the superdelegates are first and foremost concerned about being re-elected, unless there’s a sure thing candidate promising them a diplomatic assignment to Milan or Undersecretary In Charge Of Titties And Beer Affairs. That’s what they’ll answer to–not a Legislative Branch Ma and Pa Kettle. Nancy Pelosi looks like Katherine Harris’ mother, and Harry Reid could be Rene Auberjonois inCoccoon VII. This isn’t the leadership tandem that’s going to strike fear into the hearts of the people down-ticket.

There was a time when political power meant something, and at no time was that truer than during the Senate reign of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson always got what what he wanted, and was notorious for what was known at “The Treatment.” Roland Evans and Robert Novak described “The Treatment” inLyndon Johnson: The Exercise Of Power:

The Treatment could last ten minutes or four hours. It came, enveloping its target, at the LBJ Ranch swimming pool, in one of LBJ’s offices, in the Senate cloakroom, on the floor of the Senate itself — wherever Johnson might find a fellow Senator within his reach.

Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance, scorn, tears, complaint and the hint of threat. It was all of these together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was breathtaking, and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target, his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and the genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.

Somewhere in Congressional Heaven, Tip O’Neill is grumbling and ordering a triple bourbon, and Lyndon Johnson is punching some hapless staffer in the face trying to figure out how he can catch a train back to the mortal world and put his hands on this retarded mess. Neither of them would have brooked this nonsense, and a letter would have been the last arrow in their quiver. Speaker O’Neill would have been threatening committee assignments and backing primary challengers, and Johnson as Senate Majority Leader would have been on the phone eighteen hours a day and parading terrified Senators through his office, threatening physical violence or promising to send someone to seduce their wives.

That’s the kind of leadership that’s sorely lacking in the current Congress, and it’s the reason that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are going to be brushed past like a subway preacher. Don’t be surprised to see a palace coup within the party sometime after the next election. It’s time for some new chiefs, and the Congress needs leaders with teeth, not leaders who put their teeth in a glass at night.