Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No Surprises Here

For all the headlines we've seen over the last 24 hours, decrying New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, or the Supreme Court, or the West Virginia chemical spill, or even the makeup of Obamacare enrollees, we have to note our relative lack of surprise at any of those stories. Even the silence among Congressional Democrats on the new Iranian sanctions bill floating around Capitol Hill, that Greg Sargent pointed out on Monday, doesn't entirely surprise us.

The fact is, 2014 is an election year, and for members of both parties up and down the ticket, virtually everything is going to be focused on getting elected, re-elected, or positioned for a higher office.

The news that some politicians are going to act like spineless, invertebrate, slugs  - especially in an election year - should be the non-event of the season.

Take Gov. Christie's ongoing Bridgegate scandal. For a man with a long history of being a bully, it's now apparent he was throwing his metaphorical weight around, canceling meetings with mayors who disagreed with him. Christie generally being, well… a bully hasn't really surprised many folks. A Pew poll taken since last Thursday shows that the opinion of Chris Christie by most Americans remains largely unchanged since this scandal took over the front pages of most newspaper and news websites - likely because Americans already thought Christie was a typical, mean, slightly corrupt New Jersey politician.

The chemical spill in West Virginia shouldn't be much of a surprise to Americans, either. Yes, as Ana Marie Cox noted in The Guardian on Monday, the West Virginia disaster is a more important story than the Christie scandal in many ways. That said, as Sally Kohn pointed out in The Daily Beast, as more public delivery and safety systems have been privatized, and regulations have been weakened, more of these man-made disasters have been popping up all over the nation, from Texas, to North Dakota, and beyond.

The type of enrollees already signed up for Obamacare also shouldn't surprise anyone. Wonkblog's Sarah Kliff notes that one in four Obamacare enrollees are currently young adults, a number that's below the optimal target. However, as Jonathan Cohn from The New Republic spotlighted, just like with Romneycare in Massachusetts, younger people are waiting until the last minute before they get their enrollment completed.

What looks to be happening at the Supreme Court isn't much of a surprise either, given the high Court's current right-wing majority. That the Court looks likely to try to limit the power of the presidency under Mr. Obama, when they seemed perfectly fine with George W. Bush's multiple overreaches of executive power isn't much of a surprise.

Even the latest literary release coming out that reveals Fox News chief Roger Ailes to be a classless slug, to the book from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that most of the media didn't actually read and just blasted through their own partisan lens, none of the headlines we saw over the last day or so really surprised us.

Maybe we're jaded after Paul's fantastic vacation, or maybe we're dulled in anticipation of our editor Amy's new baby.

Maybe it's just that the slugs, thugs, bullies, and criminals are all exactly who we expected them to be.

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