TNR flags a proud moment in the history of the world's greatest deliberative body -- Senator Orrin Hatch quoting at length from a cartoon (Disney's "Robin Hood") in a speech against the Obama budget a few weeks ago:
Mr. HATCH. Madam President, a couple weeks ago the Obama administration released an outline of its budget plan for fiscal year 2010...
The document with which most of our colleagues are quite familiar with by now is entitled, "A New Era of Responsibility--Renewing America's Promise." While this is a nice title for which I commend the President, it does not sound like the appropriate name for a work of fiction. Because of the impact of the policies outlined in this budget, a more fitting title might be, "How To End America's Global Leadership and Prosperity Without Really Trying." Even better, it sounds more like a 1973 Disney animation entitled "Robin Hood."
In this Oscar-nominated movie about a legendary outlaw, I think a colloquy between Little John and Robin Hood sums it up best. Little John said:
You know somethin', Robin? I was just wonderin', are we good guys or bad guys? You know, I mean our robbing the rich to give to the poor.
Robin Hood responded:
Rob? Tsk, tsk, tsk. That's a naughty word. We never rob. We just sort of borrow a bit from those who can afford it.
...This budget is a masterpiece of contradiction. For example, it promises the largest tax increases known to humankind while promising tax cuts to 95 percent of working families. In reality, the President wants to play Robin Hood by redistributing trillions of dollars from those who already pay the lion's share of this Nation's income taxes and give a significant portion of it, through refundable tax credits, to those who now pay no income taxes at all.
Here's a picture TNR captured of Hatch giving his speech in front of an absurd "Robin Hood" poster his staff apparently put together (whose job is that?):
Sadly, Hatch is hardly the first senator to throw away his dignity in pursuit of pop culture references. Back in 2005, Frank Lautenberg took to the floor with another silly movie poster to compare the GOP's possible use of the "nuclear option" to "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith":
Senators love to talk about their chamber as the "world's greatest deliberative body."
Yesterday morning, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) used the phrase. Yesterday afternoon, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) used it. But it took Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to show why the Senate is the world's greatest deliberative body.
The octogenarian legislator, rising in defense of the filibuster, displayed a larger-than-life poster of Ian McDiarmid playing the evil Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in the just-released film "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith."
"In a far-off universe, in this film, the leader of the Senate breaks the rules to give himself and his supporters more power," Lautenberg inveighed. "I sincerely hope that it doesn't mirror actions being contemplated in the Senate of the United States."
Lautenberg juxtaposed the evil chancellor with another poster, of Jimmy Stewart playing Sen. Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." That film, Lautenberg said, "is a celebration of this Senate, the world's greatest deliberative body. But if the majority leader is successful in ending the filibuster . . . we will move from the world's greatest deliberative body to a rubber-stamp factory."
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, people might have considered such a display on the Senate floor to be cheap. But in the debate over President Bush's judicial nominees, which won't end until Tuesday at the earliest, anything worth saying on either side has long ago been said -- repeatedly.
...[I]t was hard to top Lautenberg, whose staff announced, in a media advisory, that the senator "will have visual aids to make his point -- great for television!" After Lautenberg, echoing a new MoveOn.org advertising campaign, likened Republican leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) to Palpatine, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), on a visit to the Senate press gallery, was asked what character Democrats represent. "We are the Jedi knights," he replied instantly. "We have the light source."
Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson scoffed at these claims, suggesting the Democrats are in fact led by a floppy-eared outcast from Naboo. If Frist is Palpatine and Democrats are Jedi, Stevenson wondered, "would that make Howard Dean Jar Jar Binks?"
It is a question worthy of the world's greatest deliberative body.