Democrats blame Republicans.
For example, during Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden took a break from his unsettling series of condescending laughs, mocking smirks and cranky frowns to say of the still-struggling economy: “We inherited a god-awful circumstance.”
But President Barack Obama’s administration inherited that daunting circumstance nearly 45 months ago — and for its first two years had strong majorities in both chambers of Congress.
So it makes some sense for Republicans to blame Democrats.
And yet ...
For example, GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan made this undebatable point Thursday night: “They passed a stimulus, the idea that we could borrow $831 billion, spend it on all these special interest groups and that it would work out just fine, that unemployment would never get to 8 percent. It went up above 8 percent for 43 months. They said that right now, if we just pass this stimulus, the economy would grow at 4 percent. It’s growing at 1.3.”
But then Biden — with another goading guffaw — offered the stimulating reminder that Congressman Ryan “sent me two letters saying, ‘By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?’ We sent millions of dollars.”
Oh well. At least neither VP candidate has said he fared poorly in the debate because he was “too polite.” Certainly that’s not a credible option for the boorish Biden.
However, “I was just too polite” was the excuse President Barack Obama gave Wednesday, during a radio interview on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” for his own lackluster performance in the Oct. 3 showdown with Mitt Romney.
And at least that was a better alibi than some of those given on Obama’s behalf by Democratic propagandists, including Denver’s high altitude (Al Gore), Romney’s “lying” (sore-loser spinners) and moderator Jim Lehrer’s alleged negligence in letting Romney go on and on — though the president had a four-minute-plus advantage in talking time.
Too bad politicians aren’t as adept at efficiently spending our bucks as they are at passing the figurative buck.
Closer to home, S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell even offered a variation on the traditional “lost my homework” dodge Thursday: He said he lost receipts documenting $23,000 in his spending of campaign funds.
But before shifting the blame for such rampant excuse-making to members of the political class, remember, we elect them — and they reflect us. Far too many Americans wallow in alibis for virtually any and all shortcomings.
Crybaby Baby Boomers are particularly prone to faulting others for their failures. Among their works-both-ways claims to mitigating-circumstance victimhood:
» My parents were too hard on me; my parents were too easy on me.
» I’m the oldest child, so I had to help care for my younger sibling(s) ; I’m the youngest child, so I was babied; I’m the middle child, so I was stuck in between; I’m an only child, so I was lonely and my parents obsessed over me.
» My body shape, sex, sexual orientation, race and/or religion — or lack thereof — make me a target for discrimination. This excuse now is routinely proclaimed across a wide range of groups.
» My family was too weird; my family was too normal.
» All the other kids were doing it. Modern politicians, including members of our ethically challenged S.C. General Assembly, play grown-up variations on this excuse.
Now another at least:
Mark Sanford earned considerable scorn for his bizarre foray around the “Appalachian Trail” bend in 2009. His cringe-inducing public confession that he had actually neglected his South Carolina gubernatorial duties not to hike the mountains of North Carolina but to see his “soulmate” in Argentina became fodder for national — even international — ridicule.
But in that notorious case, the politician’s explanation apparently was based on fact: Sanford, after an embarrassing divorce that included a tell-all book by his jilted wife, is now engaged to marry the aforementioned “soulmate.”
So some excuses, or at least explanations, ring true — even when issued by politicians.
Meanwhile, though, if you rate this column below my usual high standard of insightful commentary, don’t blame me.
Blame my hectic schedule: With only 23 days left until the election, we in the editorial department have been frantically busy interviewing candidates to fully inform our endorsement choices.
If you think that weighty, time-consuming obligation isn’t enough to absolve me of guilt for what you’re now reading, also remember, my mom spoiled me.
And after all, we Baby Boomers grew up in the shadow of “The Bomb.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.