Bullies and Victims Make Us All Losers

With approval ratings firmly ensconced in the single-digits, it is no surprise that Americans are fed-up with Congress. In the announcing of his retirement, long-time member Barney Frank of Massachusetts has become emblematic of the corrosive morass the People’s House has become and his persona a reflection of the daily battles in which our media and elected officials engage.

In his latest column, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, details the gruff bully Frank embodied as the caustic Democratic power on the House Financial Services Committee. I have always wondered – what came first the bad attitude or the harsh treatment? All one has to do is read Karl Rove’s take on Frank to know that any sense of civility toward elected officials is long gone if a former presidential aide now collects millions publicly vilifying elected officials of another political persuasion.

In the archetypical triad of victim-bully-rescuer those who feel threatened often move on to the antithetical role or allow the cycle to continue by constantly “helping” others. As a “left-handed, gay, Jew” Frank has likely felt his share of bullying let alone as a Congressional defender of the left wing. His switch to the aggressive side of the equation is not surprising – it is sad.

Although not as sad, as the current state of the nation’s highest policymaking body. Today’s congressional members seem to be stuck with this losing triad of the right-left-media game of taking turns as the victim, bully, and rescuer. So how does this all end?

It takes leadership to move beyond the tit-for-tat approach of our current elected officials and to transcend these tired, worn-out behaviors. The public has clearly seen the need for a shift and, sadly, those inside the beltway have not. So as John Stewart predicts, next up Maxine Waters – sigh, here we ago again.

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