Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institute and Norman J. Ornstein recently wrote an essay in the Washington Post, "The Republicans Are The Problem," adapted from their book, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks." Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), soon to retire after 30 years of service, echoed this theme of an extremist Republican Party responsible for the dysfunction in Congress. Today's GOP Congressional members, Ackerman (left) contends, are worse than the "Do-Nothing Congress" condemned by Harry Truman:
[Ackerman] is exiting not so much in despair as relief to be gone from the legislative intransigence that he sees extended across the aisle by the House Republican majority.
Sounding like an anthropologist, Mr. Ackerman talked of spending enough time in Congress to remember dealing creatively with an extinct species known as moderate Republicans. “Oh yes, compromise,” he said nostalgically of such long-ago behavior. “They’ve all been quieted, muzzled, taking pledges before they ever get here,” he said, his tone unabashedly partisan. “It’s not that they’re running a Do Nothing Congress — they’re running an Undo Everything Congress.” He quoted a Capitol truism: “Any jackass can kick down the barn.”
The low point, he said, was when a Republican friend told him that private caucus meetings featured prayer gatherings where lawmakers hold hands and invoke God for or against specific measures on the House agenda. “In the past, a fight was over how to make a good bill better. Now it’s become Good versus Evil.”