September 15, 2009

PPOD 9/15/09: A Two-fer

Ever wonder why it is that we Dems can’t keep from shooting ourselves in the foot? Two recent examples, one national and one local, make up today’s Pet Peeve of the Day.

Here in my hometown, our local DPW spent about $1500 in labor and supplies, trying to remove a couple hundred posters
that an unknown person hung around town. The posters were critical of our lame-duck mayor, who got a retroactive raise this year, his last in office due to term limits.

In addition to the time the city workers spent, another set of folks from a downtown-centric group have also been out trying to remove the posters from the city center, which apparently were so well-glued that they defied scrapers, wallpaper paste remover and the strong arms of the DPW. Some that couldn’t be peeled off the poles were painted over to keep us from reading them and perhaps drawing the wrong conclusions about the mayor.

In most opinions (mine included) the former bar owner has not lived up to his promise to help turn our city around. While he’s been a big proponent of Syracuse as a center of ‘green’ at the regional and national level, and bringing green business conferences here, that’s about all he’s done lately. I think his legacy will be more about promises unkept and opportunities missed than about accomplishments, and I'm not surprised that someone resorted to a public display of dismay in protest.

The problem with removing the posters, of course, is that someone – whether the mayor or a member of his administration – has a thinner skin than the glue used to hold the posters on the poles. There’s nothing wrong with hanging critical posters - they're really no worse than the bazillion garage sale and CD sale posters that litter telephone and streetlight poles all over the city. Or, if there is something wrong, all of the posters should get this kind of attention, not just the ones critical of the mayor.

On the national level, again it’s too much of too little, and too distracting when there’s too much to do. Is that too confusing?

The House of Representatives today officially chastised South Carolina’s Joe Wilson, the idiot who yelled ‘You Lie!’ during the President’s address last week to the joint session of Congress.
Seven Republicans joined with the majority, while twelve Dems crossed the aisle and voted against the resolution. Kudos to them.

Within the first few hours of the spectacle last Wednesday, Wilson and his opponent in the 2010 election collectively raised a few hundred thousand dollars; the opponent raised more, which I guess is a good thing, but the real problem is the more the Dems keep this in the national headlines, the less time they’re spending paying attention to the things that matter… like the health care reform debate itself, which was the precursor to Wilson's outburst. It also keeps the crazy right-wingers in the news, allowing them to profit (with very little expenditure of effort) from our inability to get out of our own way.

Obama’s acceptance of Wilson’s apology should have been the signal for the House leadership to move on; barring that, the official reprimand should have come immediately, not almost a week later. Hopefully now, we'll be able to get back to the business at hand.

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