Like Israel, America is neither sufficiently strong nor sufficiently prosperous to turn its national politics into the theater of the absurd
There is nothing new in the phenomenon of the crazy parliamentary backbencher. Italy had a one-term member of parliament by the name of Ilona Staller, better known by her stage name Cicciolina and her career in pornography, a career that often included boa constrictors. In the run-up to the first Gulf War, Ms. Staller gained some notoriety by offering her sexual services to Saddam Hussein in exchange for the full withdrawal of Iraqi forces form Kuwait. Alas, her offer was declined and she lost reelection the following year.
In Israel, Oren Hazan, a self-avowed pimp who ran prostitutes and gambling in Bulgarian seaside casinos, was elected to the last Knesset on the Likud party ticket. This happened when his place on the list, a place that was not considered “realistic”, never the less accorded him, to everyone’s surprise, a seat in the Israeli parliament when Likud won more seats than was originally projected. The recent Likud primaries placed Mr. Hazan safely outside of any chance to continue his career as a parliamentarian.
What is common to this colorful backbencher phenomenon is the fluke nature of the election of these people to the high office they only half-seriously try to attain. Their election is often a matter of unusual circumstances and, while entertaining, has no lasting effects on politics or policy. The election of the young Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to the recently seated 115th US House of Representative upholds this tradition. An automatically Democratic district in which no Republican could ever win, a district with a long-serving incumbent who saw in the primary challenge by his inexperienced opponent a joke rather than anything to be taken seriously, and voila!
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, on her part, is playing the crazy backbencher part with perfection. She is constantly available to the media, rapid-firing statements about every aspect of American politics and policies, one more outrageous than the next. Normally, in the rest of the world, in places where some sort of common sense yet prevails, her antics would be the stuff of tabloids and the very last segments on news programs, good for a few eye rolls and giggles. But not in America, not today.
Today, Ocasio-Cortez unveils a “Green New Deal” that is far more ridiculous than Cicciolina’s offer to sleep with Saddam. After all, that offer was physically possible. Saddam, presumably, could have had sex with Cicciolina and he certainly could have withdrawn his troops from Kuwait. On the other hand, there is not a single item in the Green New Deal that comports with the laws of physics. It is simply nonsense, as Kimberly Strassel has so ably demonstrated in her recent WSJ article. And yet, and this is were today’s America so dangerously departs from the ground of reality and leaps into the dark void of derangement and mass hysteria, Ocasio-Cortez, in announcing her plan was flanked by long-serving senators such as Ed Markey and the presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand. Mainstream media outlets failed to perform their duty as democracy’s watchdogs and debunk the ridiculous claims and impossible action items that make up Ocasio-Cortez’s “resolution” and reported it, breathlessly, at the head of all news broadcasts.
When a plan that is concocted by a clearly uneducated woman without any input from specialists, a plan that in no way abides by the laws of physics, a plan that is utterly impossible not only now, but also in the future, is supported by major national politicians and goes largely unchallenged by the national media, that’s bad enough. What is much worse, is that all of them, every single person who has publicly come out in support of this plan or, no less egregiously, failed to debunk it, KNOWS WITH CERTAINTY that the plan is a bunch of things that could never become reality. It could possibly be, maybe it is even likely, that Ocasio-Cortez, a product of the public education system in America, a system that rewards stupidity above all else and offers free passes to “people of color” such as her, sincerely believes that her plan is feasible. The people that enable her clearly know better. They indulge her dangerous fantasies purely for political gain. With boundless cynicism, they lie to their own constituents, their viewers, and the American people as a whole, simply to gain a slight political advantage, to come closer to realizing their ambitions, to gain a few more deluded viewers. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, who is misled herself, who has been misled her entire life, they are doing the misleading. Unlike her, who believes that she is faithfully executing her recent oath of office, they are betraying theirs.
The somewhat amusing part in this tragicomedy that is unfolding before our very eyes is that Ocasio-Cortez’s plan is so far out, so detached from any possible reality that supporting it is in fact horrible politics. “Senator Gillibrand, when you called the Green New Deal ‘bold and courageous’, did you know that it would be necessary to pave all of California and Texas with solar panels in order to generate enough solar power to satisfy the plan’s goals? And do you realize that scientists do not envision a replacement for the gas turbine engines that power our airplanes for many centuries, maybe forever?”
That supporting this plan is political suicide is something that Speaker Pelosi knew well when she called it a “green dream or whatever”. Unfortunately for her, but luckily for America, she is too late. The miasma of idiotism that the Ocasio-Cortez plan so powerfully exudes could have only been defeated had the leadership of the House and the Democratic minority leadership in the Senate offered unequivocal statements distancing themselves and their party from it and allowed their lapdogs in the media to debunk every aspect of it as they would have done anyway had they been independent or even remotely professional. That didn’t happen. The Democrats are now forever tied to this idiotic mumbo-jumbo of unicorns and rainbows. They are forever the party that wants to reward people for not being “willing” to work and contribute to their own welfare as well as to society. The party that wants to return Americans to the time when travel between cities took days and not hours and snatch hamburgers away from Americans’ backyard barbecues.
As Israel is preparing for its April 9th elections, a clear picture is emerging. Post-election, Israel will be led either by the current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his challenger, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Benjamin Gantz. Whatever the outcome, Israel will be competently shepherded through its complex and fraught with danger future. Netanyahu is, of course, a proven leader, the longest serving Israeli PM. Gantz is a newcomer to politics, but he was the Chief of the General Staff of the IDF, in Israel the de-facto second most powerful role after that of the prime minister. Both men love Israel and the Jewish people. They have widely differing styles, but identical objectives and very similar tactics for achieving these objectives. Childish frivolity at the highest levels of government is something Israel categorically cannot afford.
The question is: what makes America so sure that, unlike Israel, it can long tolerate the kind of theater of the absurd that we are now witnessing at the very epicenter of its hallowed halls of government.