There’s an old legend about the Roman Emperor Nero. As the legend goes, while Rome was burning in 64 AD its emperor was casually playing a fiddle and singing, watching his the crown jewel in his empire burn to the ground. Now, history would tell us that since no such instrument as a fiddle existed at the time of Rome burning that this legend is simply that — legend. The story though has become a metaphor for political leaders who are either aloof or even seemingly gleeful about a tragedy that has befallen the nation they are ostensibly serving.
When Ginger Gibson, a reporter for Politico, reported from the rotunda last night, she didn’t mention whether she heard any fiddles playing in the background as the House Republicans voted to delay Obamacare by a year in the budget they proposed, hurtling our country even further to the brink of shutdown. What she did report is every bit as galling, thought it’s nowhere near as shocking as it should be. Watching the various members of the GOP as they came off the House floor, Gibson tweeted the following:
I’m not over exaggerating when I say I can smell the booze wafting from members as they walk off the floor.
— Ginger Gibson (@GingerGibson) September 29, 2013
Maybe they were toasting their political movement’s next big loss, because that is precisely what the shutdown of the Federal government over Obamacare will do. They will lose just as they lost when Newt Gingrich thought a presidential sexual dalliance was something the American people who had overwhelmingly re-elected President Clinton would want Gingrich to drum up impeachment charges over. They misread the public then, and they are grossly misreading the public now. Armed with opinion polls that show the majority of people oppose Obamacare — even though other studies show that perhaps they just don’t understand that the Affordable Care Act is the same thing — they think the polls mean that the American people want their government to shutter over the law that’s now been on the books for four years.
What do you think about the members of Congress who just voted to shut down the government they work for drinking on the job while they do so? How many of us would be able to get rip-roarin’ drunk at work while we also make terrible decisions? Not very many, that’s the answer you’re looking for. Keep it classy, House Republicans, and don’t forget to tune your fiddles.