Friday, November 26, 2010

Post-Turkey Griping

Kevin Drum wants to kill off the turkey pardon.  I'm indifferent about that one, but it reminds me of something I want to kill off: saying the Pledge of Allegiance in Congress.  Unless my memory is entirely wrong, the whole thing dates back to 1988...wait!  Why trust my memory, when there's search engines and, as it turns out, C-SPAN:
The Senate opened its daily session with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag for the first time on June 24, 1999. President pro tempore of the Senate, Strom Thurmond (R-SC), led the Senate in reciting its first Pledge. The House has recited the Pledge as part of its daily session since 1988. 
Kids, you may not believe this, but George H.W. Bush -- you know, the sensible one in the family -- campaigned for president in 1988 on the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Don't ask.  Anyway, as Drum says about the turkey, once someone insists on saying the Pledge no one who ever wants to get elected to anything is going to be willing to oppose it.  Really, it's a mystery how the Senate managed to hold out for a decade.   

Anyway, as a seriously patriotic American I absolutely can't stand forced shows of rah-rah patriotism (yes, Bud Selig, that includes your disruptions of the 7th inning stretch, and for that matter the Anthem before games).  It's even less likely than Drum's request, but I sure wish the incoming GOP majority would get rid of it.

As it is, I'll settle for a hope that they don't change all the committee names again.  Exception (of course?) for anything involving the word "Homeland."  

So, anyone else have an American political tradition they'd like to see ended?  


  1. If I never see another tiny American flag pin affixed to another lapel again, it will be too soon.

  2. I'd like to see eliminate The State of the Union, State of the State, State of City, etc., addresses that drag on forever, promise so much and offer so little in terms of honest assessment. They've turned into little more than cheap media events.

    George Washington's first State of the Union address is said to have taken from four to seven minutes; today, we're up over an hour on average. And I've got a feeling Washington said a lot more in his few minutes than anyone else has said in the past 40 years.

  3. Actually, I'd like to see Obama deliver the state of the union from somewhere other than the congress. Do what the republicans always do with their stupid response (something I WOULD like to see go away.....from either party).....go out in the country somewhere......maybe a small town that has been wrecked by Wall Street or some such thing. And then I'd like to see him absolutely blast the new congress and the banks. Now that would be fun.

  4. Yes, the party-before-nation allegience that's swept too many politicians. . . I rather think it's a GOP tradition, however, not a political tradition in general.

  5. I don't mind that the House and the Senate recite the Pledge. It's a momentary reminder to them exactly who they work for, for all the good that does. Leave it be.

    And I don't mind a few moments of tear-jerking patriotism at sporting events either, harmless and some people really enjoy it, eyes welling up and looking towards the sky, chest puffing out, hugs all around, even when the singer misses *the* note. It's a good chance to stock up on a fresh beer and bag'o'peanuts, make a pit stop, and be back in the armchair for the first pitch.

    As for the flag pins, who really cared until Fox News went into orgiastic hissy fits over who was or wasn't wearing them -- all of cable news following their lead of course. If it wasn't that, it would have been something else. So what if it is sincere, or not.

    The SOTU -- I'm agnostic. Yes, it's a spectacle, counting the number of standing ovations and all, but hell. At least they have to stand up there in public and do some accounting. What would all those TV "analysts" be doing if we didn't have the SOTU, the pregame, the game, the postgame. Something else, I can assure you.

    The turkey thing has always been silly, but if anyone could discontinue that tradition it would have been Dubya, not Obama. I'm actually surprised that he didn't.

    I'm okay with most of the flag-waving, rah rah patriotism stuff but I really really wish we weren't so deep into the 2012 presidential campaign at this point. I say, NO coverage allowed until the year the election takes place, all primaries exactly 6 weeks before the general, and NO coverage AT ALL on election day until Every. Single. Polling Place. is closed. Even Hawaii's. Hey, I can dream, too.

  6. Kids, you may not believe this, but George H.W. Bush -- you know, the sensible one in the family -- campaigned for president in 1988 on the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance. Don't ask.

    Why not? The answer is short enough. Dukakis vetoed a bill that would have required Massachusetts school children to recite the Pledge - thus showing himself to be more liberal than the majority of the Massachusetts legislature. It was a perfectly sensible issue for Bush to raise. I would argue it was also a sensible issue for a low information voter to use in deciding how close Dukakis came to sharing his values.

    One might argue that low information voters shouldn't vote, but it's usually conservatives who make that argument. Low turnout elections aren't good for Democrats.

  7. David, flag-salute requirements are unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled. (They violate the First Amendment.) Dukakis was using the executive veto in the way it was originally intended, to stop a legislature from overstepping its constitutional authority. I guess you could say, right, he should have been more of a demagogue like Bush, and then he would have done better with low-info voters. But then you'll have the Founders all spinning in their graves.

    As to political traditions I'd like to see retired, do stupid, wasteful foreign military adventures, based on lies, count as a "tradition"? Because personally I could do without that one.

    This reminds me that I have a possible set of Sunday Questions, which I'll throw in here since I see that no one has answered the call for those. Same question for both sides: What do you see as the greatest error(s) of liberalism / the left, and of conservatism / the right? In other words, your own side's greatest error, and the other side's? By "error" I don't mean a political mistake that set your cause back, but a policy position that it's now possible to see what clearly wrong. Because it involves the long view, good answers to this might need to range back in time, say over about the past 100 years. In that perspective, I think I know what my own answers would be.

  8. ....that it's now possible to see WAS clearly wrong..... sorry. (The "preview" function doesn't really work here beyond the first few lines, at least on my browser.)

  9. @Jeff

    I know Dukakis cited the Constitution when he vetoed the legislation. I didn't mention it because it wasn't especially pertinent and I was trying to be brief.

  10. Surely you don't actually have any hopes of this Congress, in the post flag pin scandal of 2008, to do away with the pledge of allegiance... I get daily emailed from the Tea Party faithful about keeping God and in the Pledge and prompting the use of the Pledge in the public square, especially public schools (and probably private if they could find a way to mandate it).

    I actually don't see any of the flag-waving, pin-wearing, pledge-reciting "patriotism" going away. I think it reflects a real cultural shift that parallels shifts in religion. You see mainline Protestantism and Catholicism (pray in a closet) giving way to (conservative) Evangelical Christianity. I don't think it is a coincidence that the two groups - political and religious overlap. A large group of Evangelicals think that they are effectively proselytizing (I suppose that group has been growing) by overt displays of piety (think "Jesus saves!" posts on FB every day of the week). A lot of these same people are slapping on "support the troops" magnets on their SUVs and complaining about taxes and gas prices.

    I would like to see [shudder] Homeland go as well. The only useful thing that it does it remind those of us who find it distasteful of all the nationalistic regimes, one it particular in the mid-20th century -- fittingly as it is used to infringe of civil liberties in the name of security...

  11. Ah, Jonathan, my disgust at the prospect of being herded upright that bombastic "God Bless America" has kept me out of ballparks this many a year. Only I blamed Steinbrenner. Did he maybe start it?

  12. A small one: I'd like state and local Democratic Parties changed the name of the annual dining events from Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners. I like the events and think more parties should adopt them, but I don't think Jefferson or Jackson well reflect the modern Democratic Party. "Roosevelt Day Dinner" sounds like quite a mouthful (And using the acronym is worse), but maybe Kennedy Day Dinner? Truman Day? I dunno. The Republicans do it much better with Lincoln Day and even a few Reagan Days. Both guys would have their problems fitting into the modern Republican Party, but they pretty accurately reflect Republicans' "self-image".

  13. I would abolish the electoral college, and change the senate. instead of the 1 state = 2 senators formula that we have now, they would be something like representatives, except elected by trans-state regions apportioned by population. i would also limit gerrymandering by setting an absolute limit to the ratio of the square of a district's circumference to its area.

  14. My suggestion is to jettison the Pledge of Allegiance altogether.

    I'm not going to get myself started on all the things I hate about it.

  15. I think only children should say the pledge.

    Adults should give an oath to defend the constitution if they want to be patriotic.


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