Now come the Democrats

Well, we now know God reads this column (even before it is published!) which is kind of comforting in a curiously unnerving sort of way, if you know what I mean.

We were given proof of this last week, when, you will remember, I beat up on the Democrats for not mounting any kind of resistance to the radical, right-wing agenda of the Bush regime. Immediately, God called their bluff, and forced a United States senator, a mild-mannered Vermont moderate named Jim Jeffords, to quit the Republican Party.

That gave control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats, for the first time since Monica Lewinsky was a virgin, and put everyone in a tizzy. As for myself, I was mainly amazed to learn how true is the old saying that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Naturally, I knew the Old Boy would do something after I wrote that piece, but I expected He’d either kill Jesse Helms or reactivate Al Gore’s spine. Guess He is smarter than me!

Anyway — so now the Democrats will control the U.S. Senate, meaning Dick Cheney won’t be able to blame his next heart attack on the pressure of having to break a tie vote, and Americans, or at least newspaper and magazine copy editors, will finally have to learn how to spell Tom Daschle, which is a bit harder than Trent Lott.

But other than that, this is a tremendously good thing, right? Well ... maybe. Dubya was counting on ramming the rest of his right-wing agenda through a doormat Congress, and until Jeffords bailed, he was getting about everything he wanted, even though both houses are very, very closely divided.

Now the Democrats — if they stick together — should be able to prevent the worst excesses. The best news may be that our own Carl Levin will become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and ought to be able to stop Baby Bush’s horrifyingly expensive and otherwise insane Star Wars II missile-defense plan.

They also may even be able to stop the Shrub from nominating Grand Kleagle Useless P. Cornpone, or his equivalent, to the U.S. Supreme Court after Sandra Day retires next year to work on her tan. Don’t bet on it, though; the people who make the decisions in the White House these days are not a compromise-minded lot. But if Bush does choose someone awful, there is now no reason why the Senate can’t stop it.

But there are big risks for the Democrats, too. This lot in the Senate isn’t particularly used to leadership, especially not from their own side, and anyway, trying to lead congressmen these days is like trying to sweep ants into a pile and get them to stay there. If they look like a bunch of chaotic, brawling fools, more interested in getting even than constructive leadership, they may give voters an excuse to give both houses back to the right-wingers next year, in which case we will all be screwed. Finding the right balance will be tricky, because there is bound to be a lot of nonsense they should try to stop. So stay tuned and keep watching, kids.

Now that I’ve modestly set you straight on what to think about the national situation, let’s move on to ...

State politics: I haven’t had much to say about l’affaire David Jaye for a simple reason. I know something about politics, but little or nothing about the proper procedures for handling seriously disturbed people with severe drinking problems. Now, while I haven’t been a big fan of the Michigan Legislature in recent years, I think they handled this about right. He was a disaster and a disgrace beyond category. What is especially encouraging is that, at least so far, Democrats and liberals wisely have made no attempt to link his troubles to his vicious right-wing politics. There are messed-up people on all bands in the spectrum; remember Basil Brown?

Hopefully, David Jaye will not run for re-election. What everybody thinks, though no one is saying it, is that unless he gets serious mental health assistance, probably involving institutionalization, he’ll likely be dead or in jail in a very short time.

The mayor’s race: What seems especially alarming about Gil Hill is not that he is almost 69; he seems, judging from a recent appearance on “Spotlight on the News,” much older. Nor did he offer a single vision for anything, other than to say because he’d been around for a long time and knew a lot of people, well, he thought he could do a good job.

What the voters ought to demand, I think, is that the front-runner (and, for that matter, all the rest of them) should have a complete physical and then make the results public, with the possible exception of any scars from the Spanish-American War.

Why? Because being mayor of this vast, sprawling and troubled city is a tremendous and tremendously important task.

Here’s an interesting scenario that’s being talked about — with some nervousness — in certain offices, though you won’t find it in your daily newspapers. Imagine this: Gil Hill is elected mayor in November. And with Hill, Nick Hood and Clyde Cleveland out of the council race, Sharon McPhail leads the field and becomes City Council president. Then, months later, the tremendous pressures or natural causes send Gil to that great first precinct in the sky.

Or maybe he just gets weary and steps down, to go spend some R&R time with Ed McNamara in Florida. Either way, Sharon would be mayor. And if she doesn’t lead the field, Maryann Mahaffey might well end her career as Her Honor. Curiouser and curiouser, as either Alice in Wonderland, or maybe it was Grace Slick, used to say.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for the Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]
Scroll to read more Metro Detroit News articles


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.