Back when NBC's Saturday Night Live was funny, it featured a segment called "Really!?!." In it, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler took turns heaping comic ridicule on deserving people and repeatedly asked with mock disbelief, "Really!?!"
Anyone watching the contemporary political scene might well do the same thing. Much of what is being done and said these days dismays, disgusts, or otherwise defies belief.
For example, upon submitting his 2016 budget recently, President Obama said, "I want to work with Congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen America." Austerity? Really, Mr. President!?!
Only a far left liberal like Obama could call America's 2015 spending of $3.6 trillion, of which $468 billion is borrowed, austerity. Since Obama took office, the federal debt has soared from $10.6 trillion to over $18 trillion, an increase of almost $7.5 trillion. If this is austerity, one shudders to think what Obama considers to be extravagance.
The generation that helped elect Obama also amazes. In a new poll commissioned by Fusion, "a multi-platform media company that serves a young, diverse, and inclusive millennial generation," 77 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds could not name even one of the U.S. Senators from their state. Really, millennials!?!
Undeterred by their political ignorance, 9 out of 10 members of this clueless cohort say they plan to vote in the 2016 presidential election. If that election were held today, 48 percent of them would choose a generic Democratic candidate, compared to 35 percent for a generic Republican.
Not surprisingly, the young and uninformed favor Hillary Clinton for president. Speaking of Hillary, she now has company in the club of those who have lied about coming under fire when visiting a war zone.
Clinton claimed that during a 1996 visit to Bosnia she had landed "under sniper fire." When video surfaced proving her statement untrue she said she had misspoken, which is, after all, what Clintons congenitally do.
Now NBC News anchorman Brian Williams has been exposed for falsely claiming to have been in a helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq. Really, Brian!?!
Credibility and trust are essential for newsreaders like Williams. He has forfeited his for the sake of an exaggerated story. Just getting in a helicopter in Iraq is courageous enough, but if Williams is willing to lie about this, his viewers must wonder what else he is fudging on the nightly news.
U.S. Senate Democrats have also jettisoned their credibility. Remember when they constantly complained about Republican obstructionism? They blamed the GOP for "gridlock," calling it the "Party of No."
Since losing their majority, however, every Senate Democrat has repeatedly voted to filibuster a House-passed bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security, but prevent President Obama's executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. Really, Senators!?!
Even Obama used to say that executive overreach like his amnesty is "not how our democracy functions." Now Senate Democrats are putting party loyalty ahead of national security and apparently care more about protecting Obama than about the Constitution, the separation of powers, or congressional prerogatives.
Such hypocrisy is not confined to Washington, however. In New York, Sheldon Silver, the Democratic speaker of the state House of Representatives, faces federal corruption charges. The New York Times report on his arrest makes for interesting, if sickening, reading.
"For years, Mr. Silver has earned a lucrative income outside government, asserting that he was a simple personal injury lawyer who represented ordinary people," said the so-called newspaper of record. "But federal prosecutors said his purported law practice was a fiction, one he created to mask about $4 million in payoffs that he carefully and stealthily engineered for over a decade." Really, Mr. Silver!?!
Writing in New York magazine, Margaret Hartmann says, "Throughout his two decades as speaker, Silver was the biggest roadblock to efforts to enact tort reform in New York." That may change now, Hartman notes.
Silver is presumed innocent, but his story is a powerful reminder that sometimes those in public life who claim to be for the people are actually putting their personal pocketbooks first. Kentuckians should keep this in mind given our state government's sordid history of corruption and our state House's stubborn resistance to sensible lawsuit reform.
Finally, in interviews during the national measles outbreak, Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a physician, left the impression that vaccinations should be a "personal decision," voluntary, and purely a matter of parental choice for children. Really, Dr. Paul!?!
Paul professed personal support for vaccinations, but was plainly trying to have it both ways by not-so-subtly pandering to the "anti-vaxxer" crowd. After catching heat from fact-based public health authorities, Paul tried to rehabilitate himself by blaming media "misreporting" and getting a highly publicized booster shot.
There should be a vaccine to immunize the public against such political silliness! Really!
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.