Ellen Ratner is the White House correspondent and bureau chief for the Talk Radio News service. She is also Washington bureau chief and political editor for Talkers Magazine. In addition, Ratner is a news analyst at the Fox News Channel.More ↓Less ↑
The sequestration rancor is reflective of a Congress and America gone bad. The partisan politics is nothing new. You can read newspapers from the 19th century, and the name calling and “yellow” journalism is staggering.
However at a time where news is consumed instantly, the back-and-forth accusations get tiring and old quickly. Unlike the 19th century, our politicians are in town two or three nights, attend fundraisers and have no reason to socialize or get along on off hours. Washington, D.C., is hyperpartisan. Election strategy goes on 24/7 and is reflected on television, radio and even constant emails.
I thought my email inbox would have a much-needed rest after the elections. I received hundreds of emails every day with subject lines saying that I had only 12 more hours to send in money or the candidate would lose to the other side. Now, I get emails saying “GOP sequester effects” and “Obama’s secret sequester strategy.” I even got one that said, “Will Obama’s defense cuts lead to a military draft?” with the intended result of booking a guest on radio. Where do they cook these things up? I thought, how can we run a country with so much angst and rancor and politics?
This lack of resolution on the sequestration is killing us as a country. What most of us do under this dysfunction is to escape to our own lives and try and tune this insanity out. I know I did.
I rarely see movies. In fact, in two years’ time, I saw four movies, “We Bought a Zoo,” “Dolphin Tale,” “The King’s Speech” and “Mr. Poppers Penguins.” This week was different, though. I saw three movies in one week, “Lincoln,” “Flight” and “Argo.” I also saw a good part of the Academy Awards. Two different friends told me to see “Flight” and said Denzel Washington should have won an award. He did not even get nominated.
“Flight” was about a pilot who saves most of his passengers in a dangerous landing in a field, but he’s later discovered to be a drug addict and a drunk. There is no American hero here, only a guy who is a very talented pilot and who lives with a horrible addiction. There is nothing American about this movie, except perhaps a society that lives in excess with too much booze and too many illegal drugs. For most Americans who having alcoholism somewhere in their family tree, this movie was not a vacation from rancor; it was a well-planned trip into it.
The other movies, “Lincoln” and “Argo,” are studies in what we would like America to be about. This is what we were taught when we were in grade school. Lincoln was our role model. He was far from perfect, both as a family man and as president. However, there is not a U.S. citizen who wouldn’t call him a hero. CIA officer Mendez, who risked his life to save six Americans, is another hero with whom Americans can identify. He left his family for only a few days but risked his life to get six Americas out of Iran in 1980. Had he been discovered, he would have been killed and tortured. That’s not a great way for a family man to die.
“Argo” and “Lincoln” have inspired us. Hollywood designed them to do just that. But, why didn’t Denzel Washington’s “Flight” get an Oscar? It was a superb piece of acting and a great script. The answer is reflected in my mailbox. We live in sequestration land – the land where our politicians can’t get it together, can’t stop fighting and can’t get out of their own way to do the business of the American people. From members of the Academy to the simple taxpaying citizen, Americans are sick of it.
We want leadership, we want heroes. The Oscar winners this year reflect our hopes, dreams and desires. If only the sequestration fight were a movie and not reality, America would be better off.