03 October, 2007

Why I hate (and love) C-Span

I find myself in sunny Auburn, Indiana this fine evening, ruminating over the last few days since I posted to this blog. Last night, I had quite a bit of trouble sleeping. Now, I am quite used to spending nights in a hotel (167 nights so far this year), but no matter how many times I stay in a Holiday Inn Express, I have never found a comfortable bed.

So, after an hour or so of tossing and turning, I gave in to insomnia and clicked the TV back on about midnight or so. After channel surfing through the vast wasteland of infomercials, sitcom reruns and assorted celbri-crap, I happened upon good ol' C-Span. Now if anything can put me to sleep, it's gotta be this channel, right?

C-Span was replaying the Blackwater hearings from earlier in the day. Erik Prince, company founder and CEO (and brother of Betsy DeVos) was testiying about his companies activities in Iraq over the last 4 years as a private security contractor working under the Department of Defense and now, the State Department. Part of the debate was the discussion of the cost-justification of using private enterprise contractors versus active-duty military.

One of things that absolutely frustrates me to no end is the inability of television and print media to actually cover an issue. They would much rather spend inches of columns and minutes of air-time discussing pointless items about who is dating who than actually devote the time to discuss something of substance that affects all of us. That's why I really like C-Span, issues is what they do. Finally!! I get to see something intellectually stimulating, right?

Oops...I forgot. While the medium is set up to discuss issues, the players involved - not so much. For the next 3 and a half hours, I sat watching a train wreck of pompous, grandstanding, ill-informed and flat-out ignorant doofi demonstrate to everyone watching why our government is so ineffective. Both sides of the aisle completely wasted the opportunity to have a constructive discussion as how to best use tax dollars and how we should set our policy going forward. No, why do that? There's name calling to do!! We're discussing Blackwater...I know, I'm going to go on a 3 minute rant about MoveOn.org! And I'm going to answer that rant by complaining about Rush Limbaugh!

As if the posturing about unrelated issues wasn't vomit-inducing enough, the complete lack of preparation by these congressmen blew me away. One Democart demanded to know why Blackwater had not incarcerated their personnel who had been terminated for improperly discharging their weapons. When he was told that Blackwater could not detain people because they were not a law enforcement agency, he exploded and demanded to know whose fault that was. Hello?!?!?! It's your fault - Congress made the law!! A Republican senator from Indiana responded to this exchange, not by using facts or even reasoning, but by claiming that all Democrats hate profit and want to see rich people suffer. Thankfully I was able to stop from smothering myself with a pillow.

This is the reason why I sometimes hate C-Span. Our elected leaders choose to self-aggrandize rather than govern and lead. And all the posturing seems to be done for the benefit of the cameras. The chairman of the committee, Henry Waxman, actually addressed "the viewers" when ranting about something completely unrelated to the issue at hand. Is this what we've sunk to? Is being "electable" and "telegenic" more important than visionary and inspiring?

I know we started on this slippery slope during the Kennedy-Nixon debates, but I can't just give up hope that our integrity is a lost cause. I can only hope that one day C-Span can put me to sleep because of the depth of the issues being discussed and not because I exhaust myself screaming "You morons!!" at my TV.

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