Thursday, November 10, 2011

no laughing matter

We all had a good laugh this week at Rick Perry's expense when he had a brain fuzz on air during the GOP debate. When he stated that there were three agencies of the federal government that he would get rid of if he became President, and then could only name two, he had 52 seconds of oops.
I am sure that SNL folks were probably saying to themselves.."dang, he did his parody better than anything we could ever do". Many are writing his campaign epitaph as we speak. It was one of those memorable political gaffe moments we will be talking about for years.

Unfortunately, most people missed the shear audacity of what he was proposing due to the delivery..or lack thereof..of his points. The three departments that he was proposing doing away with were Education, Commerce, and....Energy (the one he couldn't quite remember).

The Department of Education has been a frequent target of conservatives, so it wasn't really a surprise to be mentioned. They feel it should be left up to the states. Some have even come out against the federal college loan program, so you can see how out of touch they are...with tuition going up and up and less and less people able to afford it.

The Department of Energy has also been mentioned recently, but seriously? In the aftermath of the BP spill, coal mine collapses, and the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan...he wants to eliminate the agency responsible for regulating and inspecting - and holding companies accountable? How do you enforce the safety laws governing the safe production and use of energy without a Department of Energy?

And Commerce? Normally one of the lines of attack that conservatives use to target federal agencies is to contend that the Constitution doesn't specifically authorize the government to do such things. In this case they have no room to stand. Article I, section 8, Clause 3 enumerates congressional power to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes". Commerce, both interstate and overseas, is solidly a part of federal government responsibility and how can it be done without the Department of Commerce?

People tend to forget that a law passed by Congress has no effect in and of itself. It only takes effect when it is "executed"...put into effect and enforced by the Executive Branch. The president is aided in this task by his Cabinet and the agencies they oversee. For a nation of over 300 million that takes a lot of people and simplistic cutting does a grave disservice to the nation's business..and economy.

Laughing at gaffs and brain fuzzes is one thing..political theatre. But lets not forget the bad messages being mangled in the process. Being president, and running for it, is serious business, and no laughing matter.