Laughing All the Way to Irrelevance

Jim, looks like you’re making a living from the well-trod “Virginia as a National Laughingstock” beat.

When this droopy-drawers thing came out, I tried to look beyond the inanity of the measure to the social context. This sounded like something akin to the message Bill Cosby has been sending. Lord knows most of us nod our heads when Cosby sounds off and credit him with having a point. Everyone here at Bacon’s Rebellion was too busy guffawing to discuss that issue; thankfully, Reporterette gave me a smidgen of validation, albeit in a comment on the excellent Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Now, given the background offered by Barnie (story and comments)and the calls for changes in the Republican leadership by both Barnie and Phil (comments), I think we ought to stop the laughing, stop the one-liners, and seriously start to consider what this sordid episode really means.

I saw the excerpts of Del. Spruill’s speech criticizing his fellow Democratic Delegate Algie Howell and was surprised it did not raise more eyebrows. I don’t know whether it’s the Democrats who don’t have their caucus in order or Speaker Howell who doesn’t have the House in order, or whether it’s a little of both, but somehow members of this historic institution let a perfectly preventable spectacle occur under a national microscope. When the BBC starts calling Christina Nukols of the Virginian-Pilot for a story on the absurd shenanigans of our General Assembly, there has been a failure of enormous proportions.

Can this General Assembly be saved?

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  1. E M Risse Avatar


    See our 29 March 2004 Column “Open Letter” and Prof Joe Freemans 4 Jan 2005 column “Rain Dance.”

  2. Barnie Day Avatar

    Will,get your brown paper bag out and breathe into it for a few minutes. We’re going to be okay. This episode means nothing. The business of the Commonwealth advances unimpeded–thousands of good folks go quietly about their professions seeing to that. Algie Howell has learned a lesson he’ll never forget. This Roman candle has flared up, we’ve ‘oohd and ahhd’ but the embers have burned out now and its back to work. Picture this: A boat being towed behind a car. Now imagine that there is someone in the boat, hands on the wheel, steering it. In a real sense, that’s the legislature. We let them think
    they’re driving–maybe even let them toot the horn once in a while–but the real driver behind the wheel of that stationwagon is the bureaucracy. The legislature is not much more than a 6-8 week annoyance. Only reason they don’t do more damage than they do. So relax, Will. Huff that paper bag if you need to. We’re going to be okay. They’re headed home again–just like always. And, hey, man! We’ve got an election coming up!

  3. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Barnie: If your analogy is correct–I accept the premise of it, but I’m not sure that it’s totally accurate–then that paints a very sad picture. Are you saying that our Representative Government is in actuality controlled by an unelected bureacracy? If that’s the case, we really need to get back to basics and have a massive overhaul in the way our State government is run.

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar

    Gee, Barnie, you and Phil are the ones calling for new leadership and you’re telling tales out of school on questionable legislator behavior, but I’m the one who’s hyperventilating?

    I was taking all this in stride until I saw everyone either in high dungeon or doubled over. I was just asking what the matter was.

    I will now return to my regular programming.

  5. Barnie Day Avatar

    That’s what I’m saying, pal. It really is. It got away from us years ago when we as a people stopped voting, stopped participating. You can call a meeting of your board of supervisors on changing the Cable TV line-up and folks will storm the courthouse, but try an issue of substance and see what happens. Apathy has grown on our government like Kudzu.

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar

    I sure as heck would have something to say about it if MY son walked around with half his underpants showing, but, silly me, I feel it’s the job of parents and institutions (such as schools, malls, restaurants, whatever) to enforce dress codes — not the state legislature.

    I see a direct analogy between the underwear bill and the smoking bill. One is conservative nannyism, the other is liberal nannyism. It’s time for government to BUTT out. (Bulls eye! A double pun!)

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