Bill Murchison

We're supposed to know what's wrong with that, though we often pretend not to understand Lord Acton's justly famous throwaway line: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." It's a theological question, almost: the congressman as minor Greek deity, the president dwelling amid thunderbolts and clouds of incense.

Hubris -- unchecked arrogance -- is ruining the very Democrats the voters put in office to rebuke the Republicans who seemed for a while to be ruining everything they weren't actually ignoring.

Obama beckoned the voters "forward"? Forward to what -- more disdain for their viewpoints? Not much appeal there. Nostalgia always tugs at human hearts. In the present case, nonetheless, a glance "backwards" shows us a country and a people less disposed to thumb their noses at voters -- while posturing innocently about the people's will. If the people really wanted health care, Democratic-style, without discussion, without candor, without concern for the cost in money or personal freedom, Martha Coakley would today be nuzzling her future fellow senators on the cheek and hiring Washington staff.

The love of power got to the Democrats: the love of big-shotting it before the cameras, as if senators were resident royalty rather than servants. Come to think of it, Scott Brown put the matter with great precision in his now-famous answer to David Gergen's question about responsibility for the maintenance of "Ted Kennedy's seat." Not Kennedy's seat, "the people's seat," Brown replied in setting Gergen straight.

Let Brown keep up that style of talk, that kind of thinking, and Massachusetts in two years could renew his lease on the seat. Let other politicians start talking the same way … well, hold on. How many miracles can a sadly stressed-out country stand all at once?

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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