Magazine | April 8, 2013, Issue

Bethesda Mental Health Clinic

DOCTOR’S NOTES

Moderate Republican Senator

Support Group

Tuesday’s Session:

Once again, late to get started due to J. McCain and L. Graham’s arriving late from Palm Steakhouse. Have repeatedly told them to leave the restaurant earlier — hard to do, apparently, because they’re always forced to enjoy large desserts sent to them from a large national teachers’ union. When I suggested to them that perhaps this is part of the problem they’re experiencing with rank-and-file members of their own party, they called me a crackpot. Also: They were carrying leftovers, which made the session room smell like an Outback Steakhouse. Session did not start well.

Some members of the group related, during the sharing session, that they found the term “RINO” to be hurtful and offensive. A senator from a midwestern state mused aloud about the possibilities of adding the term to a list of forbidden “hate speech” terms in a bill currently being written by Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.). There was general enthusiasm for this kind of thing. “Reaching across the aisle” was a phrase many members used.

Therapist attempted, at that point, to use this as a teachable moment. Could it not be, therapist asked, that the whole point of being a Republican was to oppose this exact kind of legislation? So in this case, “reaching across the aisle” wouldn’t be compromise as much as capitulation. How does the group respond to that?

Patient McCain flicked leftover mashed potatoes on therapist.

Session ended early.

Friday’s Session:

Once again the session started late, this time due to several members’ arriving from a lengthy closed-door negotiation meeting, in which serious budgetary matters were discussed. Several of the more “conservative” members of the group were frustrated by some of the other members’ intransigence on the matter of taxes. Again, therapist chose to reframe this discussion through the lens of the members’ ongoing feelings of “displacement” and “not fitting in” to the prevailing mood of their own party. What would, therapist asked, a rank-and-file member of the party view as an acceptable middle-class tax rate? J. McCain and others muttered, “Zero!” with great irritation.

And what was the sense of the group, therapist asked, in terms of an effective middle-class tax rate?

The group displayed great consensus and agreement. “Ninety percent,” said one member of the Senate Republican caucus.

Therapist then tried to illustrate effective compromise techniques: How about somewhere in the middle, he asked. How about a middle-class tax rate of 45 percent?

The entire group of moderate Republicans nodded enthusiastically. They saw how compromise was possible, and how a certain decision can be framed for the electorate as a “win” for both sides. All members of the group were comfortable predicting that their counterparts in the Democratic party would embrace this idea. Several left early to leak the plan to their contacts at the New York Times.

The session ended on a high note.

#page#Monday’s Session:

Several members arrived early, during office hours, to request an increase in the dosage of their anti-depressants. Apparently, some members of the group are experiencing increased levels of anxiety and depression as they attempt to integrate themselves into the framework of their own party. The stress of raising taxes and increasing government programs and oversight has led several members to display erratic and irrational behavior. L. Graham and J. McCain, especially, have complained about being “dislocated” and “confused” due to the cognitive dissonance of their current position.

A few of the senators wondered if perhaps there was a sense that they had been in Washington too long, that they had become part of a system that seeks, as its primary goal, not the guarantee of the liberty and freedom of our citizens but the enlargement and solidification of the federal behemoth. Perhaps it was not the voters who needed to be educated, they suggested, but the ossified and complacent senators. These senators spoke eloquently to the group, and managed to create a powerful impression on many of the members until it was discovered that they had wandered into the wrong session room.

They were directed to the Southern Democrat Support Group session, and the Moderate Republican Senator Support Group recommenced.

Session ended early, when J. McCain and L. Graham left to attend a film screening at Arianna Huffington’s house.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

A Law unto Himself

Toward the end of the February 7 confirmation hearing for CIA director John Brennan, Senator Jay Rockefeller praised the nominee’s performance. “I’ve been through a whole lot of confirmation hearings ...
Politics & Policy

SDI at 30

It has been 30 years now since President Reagan gave his famous speech announcing our missile-defense project. That is a long time, as modern science goes. Thirty years before Reagan’s ...

Features

Politics & Policy

The Humble Pope

Rome – Twenty-first-century ecclesiastical heraldry may strike some as an arcane hangover from a long-gone past, when bishops were lords temporal as well as lords spiritual. Still, the rich vocabulary of ...
Politics & Policy

Leisure Time

Productive, law-abiding citizens work for a living. We encourage schoolchildren to work and study hard to grow into responsible adults. We expect able-bodied welfare recipients to work for their bread. ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Domestic Strife

Watching the ever-amusing drama of Joe Biden playing the role of vice president is a reminder of the complicated and often uneasy relationship between vice presidents and their presidents. The ...
Politics & Policy

Outside Philip Roth

Writers’ epitaphs can be unbearably maudlin — Frost’s “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” comes to mind, but there are others — which is why I’ve always liked ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Natural Gas Will Meet Markets, Too As a 25-year veteran of the electric-power industry (first as a contractor, then as a utility employee), I found Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren’s ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Obama had a hard time of it in Jerusalem, but then so did the last guy claiming to be the messiah. ‐ What went wrong for Republicans in 2012? The ...
The Long View

Bethesda Mental Health Clinic

DOCTOR’S NOTES Moderate Republican Senator Support Group Tuesday’s Session: Once again, late to get started due to J. McCain and L. Graham’s arriving late from Palm Steakhouse. Have repeatedly told them to leave the ...
Athwart

Willful Belief

Oz the Great and Powerful which is neither, has a Braveheart moment where the Wizard addresses the fine, diverse folk ruled by Glinda the Good Witch. They are in trouble ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

HAPPY BAY Happy Bay is what a beach should be: the sea grapes shade a flat of sifted sand, an azure sky blends with a turquoise sea. The younger tourists, muscular and tanned, ride jet ...
Happy Warrior

The Party of Surrender

From RNC honcho Reince Priebus, from the senator from Swing-State Central Rob Portman, and even from the great Charles Murray, the same mournful dirge echoes through the cavernous emptiness of ...

Most Popular

Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
Film & TV

A Sublime Christian Masterpiece of a Film

‘There are two ways through life -- the way of nature and the way of grace,” remarks the saintly mother at the outset of The Tree of Life, one of the most awe-inspiring films of the 21st century. She continues: Grace doesn’t try please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked, accepts insults ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More