Republican leaders in Congress told the fifty million people who suffered through Hurricane Irene that they would not approve funding for relief efforts unless President Obama cut something else out of the budget to offset the costs of the relief. Five million people lost their electricity. Some towns were completely cut-off because roads were washed out. People's homes were swept away. People died. And the Republicans decided that instead of having the government do everything in its power to help Americans, they would do everything they could to push their political agenda. The Republican leadership stood with a life-preserver in hand, refusing to toss it to people in need.
I feel for the parents of these Republican leaders. They were undoubtedly proud to see their children elected to high office. They probably bragged to their friends about their kids' accomplishments, like most parents do. But how ashamed they must feel now that they see how poorly their children are behaving.
I have stood on the sidelines of the playground, chatting with other parents while our children played. Sometimes the play would get a bit rough, and the parents watched anxiously, ready to intervene if necessary. But none of us generally had to do anything more drastic than call out to our kids and remind them to behave. The kids knew how they were supposed to act, and they knew we were watching. Only rarely would a parent have to separate his or her child from the others, usually for a brief time-out. In the most extreme cases, a cranky child might have to be taken home for a nap. It was a little embarrassing if your kid was the one who had to be removed because he or she was causing trouble, but the other parents understood. Everyone knew that kids have to learn, and sometimes parents have to step in.
As parents, we figure that if we do our jobs right, by the time our kids get elected to Congress they will know how to act like adults. It must be humiliating for the Republicans' parents that their kids are not playing nicely. Who wants to see their kid refuse to help someone in need, specially if their kid promised to help other people and was entrusted with that responsibility?
Weren't any of these Republicans ever Boy Scouts or crossing guards or baby sitters or life guards? I bet some of them were. I bet their parents drove them to meetings and sewed patches on their uniforms and pinned badges on them at ceremonies. I bet most of the Republicans' parents attended their graduations and threw parties for them. I bet the parents did everything right. And now they see that somehow, despite everything they did, their kids turned out bad. I'm sure the disgrace is very hard for these parents to bear.
Fortunately, there are kind people in this world who will do what they can to comfort these parents of Republicans. A reassuring word. A gentle touch. An accepting glance. Some little thing that will tell these disappointed parents that they should not be too hard on themselves; we know they tried. I hope these parents of Republicans can accept the kindness that is extended to them, without stopping to think that their own kids would never do such a nice thing for someone in need.