Endemic Incompetence

John Boehner - Caricature by DonkeyHoteyPerhaps that’s the problem. The Cons, people stuck in an antagonistic stance, can’t differentiate between words that sound so much alike. Or, they don’t want to be asked, tasked or taxed because they can’t respond. Poor Boehner. His “no, you can’t” rant really was more of a plaint, an expression of his own frustration, discovered in the other because the self is unknown.

No wonder “Yes, we can” was such a frightening anthem. It hit the nail on the head of the Cons’ problem — endemic incompetence. How does that happen? Well, if man is a tool using animal and a person is born “all thumbs,” then getting along is bound to be hard. “Poor eye/hand coordination” is what it’s called when children have a hard time learning how to write. Do they then run their mouths to compensate?

Compensation seems to be a Con constant. Being in a state of antagonism must be very draining. But which comes first? Perhaps the antagonism, which seems characteristic and can’t be missed, is actually a response to the incompetence resulting from deficits that aren’t readily perceived — or didn’t use to be. That would explain the almost palpable envy with which special education programs, designed to overcome minor developmental deficits, are perceived by older folk, whose impediments were probably ignored. The children are getting something their elders never got and that’s resented.

“Ask and you shall receive” is all fine and good advice, but it doesn’t help the person who doesn’t know what he lacks. Never mind that there’s no guarantee of getting what is asked; only that if one doesn’t ask, one is sure not to get. “Don’t ask” is how one achieves certainty. “Yes” is a risky proposition and “No” is a sure thing. So, the “Party of No” is like balm for the endemically insecure.

One more conundrum. Republicans, or at least modern day Republicans, seem unable to relate to “re,” the first syllable in their name. “Receive,” “represent,” “respect” and “recycle” all seem foreign to their way of thinking. Perhaps that’s because their “re” suggests something solid to them, a person of regal stature, rather than actions that occur over and over again. Perhaps that accounts for the opposition to recycling. Concrete thinkers simply don’t perceive a world in motion, things going ’round and ’round. If so, then it makes sense that taxes are seen as an imposition or extraction, for example, rather than as part of the process of recycling dollars from Washington and back.

The perception of process. That’s what seems to be missing in the binary mind — envisioning nothing but solid substances in a state of oppostion or antagonism, always on the verge of cancelling each other out to nothingness. But, if that’s the case, no wonder they’re scared. Anything but stasis spells disaster. On the other side of obstruction, the effort to maintain stasis, there is only nothing.

John Boehner - Caricature by DonkeyHotey via his Flickr photo stream and used under creative commons license.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."