Our Congress has become fraternity row (column) | SummitDaily.com

Our Congress has become fraternity row (column)

John Young
Special to the Daily

On “The Nightly Show,” Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore nailed it.

After the University of Oklahoma kicked its SAE fraternity off campus for a racist display that even for rich white boys was way past the pale, Wilmore quipped:

“Don’t worry; you won’t be seeing any more of those frat boys — until they’re your congressmen.”

Indeed, if one monitored right-wing soundings, one might guess that these SAE dudes already are getting tea party feelers: “Who’s your daddy?” and “What’s your district?”

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank called this the act of a “breakaway nation” once known as Congress. He has named that nation “Republicania.”

Looks like we have some young hate-speech folk heroes in the making. Right-wing attorney (and former Republican Senate candidate) Stephen Jones has stepped forward to sue OU. Jones’ highest profile gig was defending Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Wilmore’s line about Congress had to do with race and racism. I’m thinking, however, that he could have been talking more generally — about how today’s Congress mirrors fraternity life.

What to expect next from newly installed Senate Alpha Epsilon after its stunt of sending a letter direct to Iran’s mullahs?

Signatories Sens. Pat Roberts and Ron Johnson, in expressions of drunk-tank regret, admitted it would have been better to sign an open letter rather than attempt direct diplomacy. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank called this the act of a “breakaway nation” once known as Congress. He has named that nation “Republicania.”

Of course, the Senate Alpha Epsilon prank is in full accord with what’s gone on for four years now with those lovable Delta Taus in the other chamber, the Animal House.

Inviting a running-for-his-political-life Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint session for a photo-op was a disgracefully partisan poke at our president, but what fun.

Since 50-plus Democrats boycotted, the only real surprise/disappointment was that the Republicans didn’t have togas for everyone.

When can we expect to find that rigor-mortised horse in the dean’s office, Deltas?

Those who recall the movie “Animal House” will recall that the Deltas’ cumulative grade-point average was barely more than zero. This is largely what the Animal House on Capitol Hill has accomplished legislatively.

But let’s agree that for these players, the food fight is everything.

Check out the Senate, where we seem to have a fraternal rivalry brewing for the role of Bluto. We have one tea party Blutarski with some seniority, Ted Cruz of Texas, and a promising, lean, hungry frat pledge, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Cotton, in the Senate a whole two months, wrote the letter meant to blow up delicate talks between several countries, over many months, toward making Iran a more peaceable global citizen.

Like someone at freshman orientation, Cotton had no answer on “Face the Nation” when Bob Schieffer asked why the Republicans hadn’t just penned an open letter. Many Republicans are thinking that would have been prudent. But “prudent” is for prudes. It’s not for these Senate Alphas.

Schieffer asked, “Do you plan to check with the North Koreans to make sure that they know that any deal has to be approved by the Congress?”

The senator’s response was the kind of self-assured smile one might unveil for a frat house group shot.

Cotton’s eminence causes me to refer to a 2013 commentary, “Why the Tea Party Can’t Govern,” by Daniel McCarthy in, of all places, American Conservative magazine.

McCarthy wrote, “The tendency throughout the right is for the extreme view to crowd out all others because the criteria of debate were set long ago by conditions of opposition, not governing.”

To this, Cotton, Cruz and Co. would probably shrug. Hey, they aren’t talking about governing. Governing’s not their bag. This is about making a statement about one’s place on campus. It’s about knowing how to party.

Toga. Toga. Toga.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email; jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.


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