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Calling a latter-day Howard Jarvis

By Lawrence Henry
web posted May 28, 2001

In one of Tom Clancy's novels about CIA operative-history professor-accidental politician Jack Ryan, Ryan becomes President of the United States near the end of a war with Japan, when a deranged Japanese pilot kamakaze-crashes a 747 into the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress. The crash wipes out most members of Congress, the entire Supreme Court, the sitting President, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hey, a man can dream, can't he?

This week's news does make one wish for a somewhat more selective impact -- say, on the Senate. It's time for some truth-telling. Senators are preening, spoiled, ugly, arrogant, hysterical, cowardly egomaniacs. They are plagiarists, drunks, murderers, grifters, con artists, and all too frequently insane. Put a Senator -- any Senator -- in a psychiatrist's office anonymously for an hour, and he'd rapidly find himself committed to the nearest state hospital for two weeks' observation.

I carry no brief for psychiatrists, either, but I strongly suspect that, once committed, a Senator would find it most difficult to get himself -- or herself -- out.

Trent Lott is scared of his own shadow, Tom Daschle can't tell the truth, and Ted Kennedy can scarcely fasten his corset in the morning.

John McCain just barely avoids foaming at the mouth, Chuck Schumer tramples anything between himself and a TV camera, and Patrick Leahy goes to bed with a copy of the Communist Manifesto.

Mary Landrieu and Jean Carnahan stole their offices, and Jon Corzine bought his.

Robert Torricelli embarrasses his home state Democrats, and that's hard to do in New Jersey.

Robert Byrd hasn't had a coherent thought or spoken a coherent word in three decades, and Strom Thurmond can't stay awake any more.

Mitch McConnell, given charge of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee's funds, cut his party's throat again and again.

Arlen Specter has delusions of Shakespeare and Orrin Hatch writes bad songs and sings them to Ted Kennedy.

John Warner, convinced beyond reason of his indomitable charm, can't stop chasing skirt.

Hillary Clinton has elevated radical PMS to a policy.

And Jim Jeffords just decided to take his marbles and go home.

Every now and then government gets so awful the people rise up and do something about it, usually something a little stupid. One thinks, for example, of the Howard Jarvis-led Proposition 13, which capped property taxes in California, and of the number of similar initiatives that passed in other states close after. Any year now, I expect the voters will simply cut the medical/insurance establishment off at the knees. A little stupid, as I say, but now and again the people simply get provoked beyond endurance.

This is one of those times.

Howard Jarvis is long gone, but somebody should rise up and proclaim that he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more. And we should repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, the one providing for popular election of Senators. Before that -- in case you've forgotten -- Senators were elected by the legislatures of their states.

Yes, we'd lose a few good ones in the interim. Perhaps there are a few. Bill Frist, Zell Miller, and Phil Gramm come to mind.

But, Clancy-like, it's tempting to invoke one of the Marine Corps' uncompromising mottos. In political terms, kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out.

Lawrence Henry is a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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