Will Rogers once said, "Congress meets tomorrow morning. Let us all pray: Oh Lord, give us strength to bear that which is about to be inflicted upon us. Be merciful with them, oh Lord, for they know not what they're doing. Amen."
Trouble is, when Congress met on Monday night, January 2, 2017, they knew what they were doing – at least the GOP side of the government did. Yep, they voted to gut Congress’ independent watchdog, the Office of Congressional Ethics.
I suppose their thinking was like this: If you don’t golf, you have no need for golf clubs; if you don’t have ethics, you have no need for an oversight committee.
Oh, they knew what they were doing alright, and when millions of unhappy votes jammed congressional telephone lines, they knew they had some undoing to do, and they had to undo it fast.
Will Rogers also said, “When you straddle a thing it takes a long time to explain it,” so as Ricky Ricardo used to say, the GOP had some ‘splainin’ to do as they unstraddled from their colossal sham.
However, congress has been just as corrupt in the past. Back in the late 1800’s the GOP tried to pull a similar stunt, and an infuriated Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) wrote his now classic poem “Apparently with some surprise” (below on the left). His poem inspired third cousin Emily to pen her poem “Apparently with no surprise” (below on the right).
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
Apparently with some surprise
Within a secret hour,
The Right beheads its ethics group
In great abuse of power.
The smug assassins passed the bill
Then had to double back
To measure off another way
For cov’ring up their tracks.
By Emily Dickinson:
Apparently with no surprise
To any happy flower,
The frost beheads it at its play
In accidental power.
The blond assassin passes on,
The sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another day
For an approving God.
Will Rogers also quipped, “Every time we elect some fellow we think he's terrible and then when we get another one in he's worse.” To borrow from a line by Charles Dickens, looks like for the next four years, we’re in for “the worst of times.”
The morals of the story: "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do."