From 'Hope and Change' to 'Fear and Loathing'

There is something surreal about the debate surrounding the stimulus bill which now appears headed for passage in the Senate. On the one hand, you have conservative Republican lawmakers railing against the bill's pork-laden provisions with all the earnestness and fervor of the born-again, fiscally responsible politicians they have suddenly become. It's as if we are getting lectures in morality from a pimp who, after seeing the light and embracing Christ as his savior, now feels compelled to preach against the evils of prostitution. You are happy for the transformation but leery about how long it will last.

Whether GOP legislators are now beating the tambourine for fiscal responsibility out of conviction is a matter open for debate, although being trounced at the polls may be reason enough for them to suddenly rediscover their conservative roots.

And what of the Democrats and their equally sudden metamorphosis from earmark crazy gigolos, bedding down any lobbyist who winks in their direction, to warriors for safeguarding the taxpayers' money? Admittedly, the Democrats have a much harder sell given the blatant and sometimes comical fraud they are trying to perpetrate on a public scared out of its gourd by a president whose hyperbole and predictions of "catastrophe" if the bill is not passed immediately is matched only by his cynical refutation of any semblance of the "bi-partisanship" he so blithely promised to bring to Washington during the campaign. No one doubts the economy is bad and getting worse. But when the president of the United States stands up and asks us to give in to our fears, to blindly obey his call to pass a bill with tens of billions of dollars in spending that even the bill's proponents say is wasteful, one has to ask what happened to the party who once told us: "All we have to fear is fear itself."

Rep. David Obey (D-WI):

How money is spent should be far from the biggest concern about the stimulus package, its chief author, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) said Friday.

"So what?" Obey asked in response to a question on NPR's "Morning Edition" about the perceived lack of direction from Congress as to how money in the stimulus should be spent. "This is an emergency. We've got to simply find a way to get this done as fast as possible and as well as possible, and that's what we're doing."

Thus speaketh the voice of fiscal responsibility.