I write this during the first, hopefully the last, day of the government shutdown.
The behavior of Congress in this matter is intolerable, which means it is not to be tolerated. It also means that those who are misbehaving are not to be tolerated.
No incumbent in this situation deserves re-election, which sadly includes some good people who were not articulate enough or brave enough to block the willful stupidity that now controls the House of Representatives. The willfully stupid are those congressmen who are convinced, in defiance of Holy Scripture and the ethical consensus of the western world, that it is now righteous to break your word, renege on your commitments, and default on your debts. The President would be in the wrong if he were to yield to their unlawful demand to renegotiate legislation already authorized with scheduled effective dates.
Some of these people may not know better. If that is the case, they aren't qualifed for office.
Others, like Senator Cruz, have a deserved reputation for knowing better. That definitely disqualifies them. The Senator deserves censure from the Senate because he knows better.
Some may hope they will survive if they sit still, but it''s too late for them to hope for that.
When I first conceived this column a week ago, before the shutdown, I thought the lyrics of Johnny Horton's "Sink the Bismarck!" was a good analogy.
"Sink the Bismarck" was the battle cry that shook the seven seas.
We found that German battleship was makin?' such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us.
We hit the decks a-runnin and we spun those guns around
We found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down.
In my analogy the Bismarck was Congress as it has allowed itself to become, invincible in its self-serving rules and traditions. Today the proper analogy is not sinking the Bismarck, but abandoning a ship that Congress has got us all to board with them because we trusted them--not to agree with us on everything, but at least to do their job. Our rallying cry can'?t be as noble as ?Sink the Bismarck! ? hollered by the young men who hit the decks a-runnin? to spin the guns around.? They knew they were likely to die in the humanly devised hell of a battle at sea. They stuck to their guns, at great loss, and prevailed in a victory that mattered.
But we're not confronting an external enemy like the Bismarck. Today we are on the ship, and it is sinking! So I'm recalling a line from a World War II naval memoir, I believe it was "All the Ship'?s At Sea," by William Lederer. A young executive officer, cut off from communication with the bridge of his sinking ship, stands at the rail among young sailors milling around him, awaiting orders. So he roars his command in terms they can appropriate for themselves: ?"This is the Exec! I'm abandoning ship! Last one over is a pig'?s ass!" It was crude, but effective. Over the side they went, babbling their rallying cry. "Last one over. . ."! They were not abandoning their country. If they were going to fight another day, they would have to survive the sea. The ship could no longer do battle. They needed another one.
I would never suggest abandoning the country; it's our country. Instead I suggest we abandon all the incumbents in congress along with the parties that have enabled and encouraged their incompetence--not a single vote for their nomination or re-election, not a single dollar of contribution to their campaigns. Trust some new people. We will lose some good people who will sadly choose to go down with the ship. We grieve for them, but we aren't called to die with them.