Leave it to the United States Congress to turn a worldwide day of mourning into a political food fight.
World leaders came together yesterday to eulogize Nelson Mandela. President and Mrs. Obama led the US delegation. They were joined by president’s Bush 43, Carter and Clinton. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Ted Cruz were also in attendance.
As the president mounted the platform to take his place among the world leaders, the first one to greet him was Cuban President Raul Castro. President Obama shook Castro’s hand and exchanged a few brief comments before moving on to greet the other dignitaries.
As one would expect in today’s toxic political environment, the president’s detractors fell all over themselves to make political points over the meaningless handshake.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, of Cuban descent, noted that: “if the president was going to shake his hand he should have asked him about those basic freedoms Mandela was associated with that are denied in Cuba.”
Representative Ileana Ross-Lihtinen (R-FL) who fled Cuba as a child, called the gestured: “nauseating.”
Senator John McCain compared the handshake with Neville Chamberlain shaking hands with Hitler.
Senator Cruz walked out of the venue as Raul Castro rose to deliver his remarks.
Meanwhile the congressional budget conference committee was announcing with great fanfare that they had avoided a government shutdown by reaching an agreement on a two year budget deal.
Lost in the euphoria of moment was the fact that the deal does absolutely nothing to address the primary causes of our fiscal difficulties. No mention of tax reform, entitlement reform, immigration reform, education reform or health care. It simply kicks the tough, politically toxic decisions down the road while allowing this congress to avoid another politically disastrous government shutdown.
The bar in congress has been set so low, that an agreement on ANYTHING” is cause for celebration.
This is what they do!
Congress is good at finding a microphone whenever it can make political hay. But when it comes to actually doing the people’s business they are nowhere to be found.
That’s the legacy of the 113th Congress of the United States of America. Long on rhetoric…short on substance.