Sunday, February 15, 2009
Week in review
Washington, D.C. – Republican firefighters responded to a series of blazes that swept through the financial districts of the nation’s major cities this past week and continue to rage from coast to coast.
The cause of the fires is not known, but some Democratic analysts are suggesting that the fires may have started in the electrical systems of the buildings, which were stripped of insulation as a result of the Free Industry and Real Estate to Unleash Power (FIRE UP) Act of 2002.
Republican fire marshals dismissed the suggestion, accusing Democrats of “playing politics” with the fires, and called for bipartisan solutions to the crisis. “If anything caused these fires, and we’re not convinced of that to begin with,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), “it was excessive regulation. Red tape is notoriously combustible, and these buildings were shrouded in it. Sarbanes-Oxley has a lot to answer for.”
Democratic electricians were surprised by Boehner’s remarks, pointing out that exposed wires carry electrical “current” and are widely considered a fire hazard. “This isn’t rocket science,” said electrical analyst Paul Krugman. “It’s really EE 101. It’s very basic stuff.”
Speaking on CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company,” however, Nobel Prize nominee Ben Stein argued that “conductivity” was just a theory, and that more research was necessary before it would be possible to determine whether in fact electricity “flows” in such a way as to be associated with the outbreak of fires. “Wires and fires are completely different things,” said Stein. “The one thing we do know is that rubber is extremely dangerous.”
“We don’t need the Democrat party to tell us about impedance,” added Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Impedance we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban.”
The Obama Administration has announced that it will offer a two-part response to the crisis, consisting of a “fire brigade” armed with high-pressure water hoses and a sweeping plan to re-insulate the buildings’ electrical systems. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), however, promised to filibuster any bill that consisted of “simply throwing water at the problem.” “This is not a firefighting plan,” McConnell charged, “it’s a water plan.” Noting that Obama’s re-insulation initiative would be costly and that its effects would not be felt for years, McConnell proposed instead that Republican firefighters respond to the blazes with flamethrowers and oil-soaked rags.
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, added that the historical record indicates that Democratic policies could lead to disaster. “Just look at FDR,” said Gingrich, an avid student of history. “Roosevelt’s creation of the Federal Deposit and Insulation Corporation led to the Great Chicago Fire that killed hundreds and destroyed four square miles of that city. If you want to see America gutted and smoldering, just follow Democrat advice.”
From across the political spectrum, commentators David Broder and David Brooks indicated that the threat of a filibuster would likely bring down the Obama presidency. “We need to take the best ideas of both parties,” Broder told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “If Obama can’t find grounds for compromise—some water and insulation, yes, but also some flamethrowers and oil-soaked rags—he will have betrayed the promise of his presidency, which was, after all, to transcend partisan politics in Washington.” Brooks agreed, adding ominously that “Obama’s credibility is at stake, and so far he’s not passing the test.”
Congressional Democrats have indicated that they are willing to consider oil-soaked rags and flamethrowers in the final bill. In a gesture to moderate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that Democrats would also add oxygen, polyester, and small explosive devices to the compromise. But thirty-six GOP senators stood firm, declaring in a press conference that they would not accept any bill that contained water. “Water will simply be neutralized by my superabsorbent undergarments,” said David Vitter (R-LA). “And it’s socialist,” added John McCain (R-AZ), who pointed to the widespread use of water among Swedish firefighters.
President Obama, speaking in Ohio, said he would “continue to reach across the aisle for oil-soaked rags.”
The emerging Washington consensus appears to be that Republican firefighters and political leaders have won this round of the debate. “Obama’s popularity has taken a hit,” wrote Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal. “Last week he had a 68 percent approval rating, but this week fully one-quarter of the American people disapprove of him. These are alarming figures that suggest the Obama honeymoon is finally over.” Fox News firefighting analyst Neil Cavuto agreed, noting that “Obama has been going around telling people that ‘doing nothing is not an option,’ but that’s patently misleading. No one is suggesting that we do nothing. On the contrary, Republicans are insisting that we fight fire with fire. And that’s a winning formula if ever there was one.”