Puzzling and concerning events in the USA which mark, perhaps, a watershed

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One has to ask what has been achieved by the longest partial government shut-down in US history. Thousands of devoted federal workers had a grim Christmas and January, many of them resorting to food-banks and second jobs.

And now it is over – Donald Trump has hoisted the white flag. His stalwart supporter Lou Dobbs observed that Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, “has just whipped the president of the United States”.

It has all been complete madness. The video below shows Senator Michael Bennet (Democrat – Colorado) making perhaps the most passionate speech I have ever seen. It is worth listening to at least the first ten minutes. It perfectly captures the insanity of the Donald Trump’s shutdown. It is such a brilliant speech that the video has now had more than 11 million hits and is the most watched congressional speech in the entire 40 year history of C-Span!

But perhaps a glimmer of good emerges from the terrible human pain which this shutdown inflicted on federal workers. Donald Trump has at last been humbled. He tried to beat Nancy Pelosi, but he lost.

So perhaps some semblance of common sense can now reign across the governance of the USA.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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9 Comments

  • John Marriott 26th Jan '19 - 4:09pm

    Senator Bennet’s delivery has something of Bill Clinton about it. Yes, it was very inspiring. However now is not the time to gloat, although there can’t be many LDV contributors who wouldn’t view Trump’s latest climbdown with a good dose of Shadenfreude. I too hope that “some semblance of common sense can now reign across the governance of the USA” as, from a selfish point of view, I am due to visit distant relatives for the first time in New York and Washington DC in early April and hope to visit a few places that have been closed during the shutdown. Perhaps we could voice the same hope for our own beleaguered system of governance.

  • David Becket 26th Jan '19 - 4:43pm

    Very inspiring, much of that could be addressed to the current situation in our government, if we had anybody to deliver it so effectively.
    What was also demonstrated was the civilised atmosphere in which the speech was delivered. The Senators have room to work, not sitting in each others laps, and in the 24 minutes not a single interruption. Our government is not fit for purpose.

  • Paul Holmes 26th Jan '19 - 6:23pm

    They don’t actually ‘debate’, they don’t take interruptions or questions. In fact they can hand a speech in and have it ‘Read into the Record’ as if they gave the speech even though they didn’t. That’s why the Chamber was near empty and nobody interrupted.

    When I was visiting Washington more than a few politicians and ‘civil servants’ told me they envied the cut and thrust of our House of Commons. One State Department Official said that he and his colleagues all recorded PMQ’s and avidly watched it -he noted that if they had a similar system in the USA they would never have had Reagan or Bush Jr as President because neither could have stood up and fielded unknown questions on anything and everything with any credibility. Likewise ‘Ministers’ in the USA never have to stand up and personally defend what they and their Departments are doing.

    As for the this speech it was good in the first half but dragged on, ran out of steam and was not particularly well delivered, if impassioned. I witnessed much better in the Commons -the best I ever experienced being Robin Cook’s resignation speech over the Iraq War.

  • I have to agree with David Beckett. I have watched a lot of stuff on the internet from the US about their Congress and President.
    I have also watched debates in our House of Commons.
    I wonder what others think of us. I cannot see that it is acceptable to have to put up with being governed by people prepared to behave in the way many do.
    It is time that we forced them to meet in a room fit for purpose. It is time to remember that the eyes of the world are on us.

  • The Senator actually suggested that politicians have a responsibility to educate! Imagine trying to say that here.

  • I am very much surprised to see anyone suggest that there is any “cut and thrust” in Prime Minister’s Questions, or that it in any way demonstrates the leadership qualities of either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition. It is in fact low-quality entertainment, somewhat below the level of the average Punch and Judy puppet show.

  • Perhaps a classic case of the grass on the other side of the fence always seeming greener.

    It’s a bit like when lazy journalists (and others) hailed Obama’s victory in 2008 (don’t get me wrong – I campaigned for Obama in Illinois and my eldest daughter did the same in New York) as an example that the UK should be envious of due to the excitement and participation he had inspired. Yet anyone who cared to actually examined the facts found that the near record turnout for the 2008 Presidential election (which we Brits got so excited about) was in fact more or less the same as the 62% turnout in the 2001 UK General Election which we thought was appallingly low!

  • @David-1. Actually you know it does not take much of a leap of imagination to put yourself mentally ‘over the pond’ and see things from their side of the fence.

    In their system President Trump never has to actually face direct scrutiny or challenge from opposing politicians. He can hide behind his Twitter blasts and the odd friendly interview with the likes of Fox News. He has even largely abandoned White House Press briefings. His State of the Union address, like all Senate/House of Representative speeches, allows for no comeback or questioning. How would he fare if he had to take President’s Question Time for half an hour every week in the House of Representatives?

  • John Marriott 27th Jan '19 - 9:18am

    Paul Holmes’ comments about how they do things over the pond reminds me of when our own ‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway appeared before a congressional committee on a Capitol Hill a few years ago. Wow, were they in for a surprise as George laid into them – no deference here. The expression on the Chairman’s face was a picture. As Cpl Jones famously said; “They don’t like it up ‘em, do they, Sir?”. The performance reminded me of a few that Nigel Farage has given in the European Parliament (when he can bother to turn up). Mind you, in many ways, he and George are birds of a feather. Great fun, though, in a kind of embarrassing way.

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