If Congress has free-spending parochialism written into its DNA, the executive branch is supposed to be another matter. But look for no relief from the Department of Homeland Security, the blundering bureaucratic monstrosity that is one of Congress' sorriest creations. The funding cuts for Washington and New York are otherworldly by any standard, and indeed DHS officials seem to be living on another planet. DHS thinks that New York City has no "national icons.". Which makes you wonder: Have any DHS officials even visited New York City or watched any movies about it? (King Kong would be surprised to learn that he didn't clamber atop a national icon, only a "tall commercial building.")
Vietnam and Watergate created a sharp decline in confidence in our governing institutions. After a surge in such confidence following 9/11, the Iraq War and the spectacle of the Abramoff-tainted, listless GOP, Congress is writing a new chapter in the history of cynicism about government. Everywhere you look there is more reason to shake your head and wonder, Where is the adult supervision in Washington? Here is the congressional leadership strenuously objecting to the FBI searching a corrupt, cash-grubbing congressman's office. There is the Department of Veterans Affairs losing the personal information of millions of veterans.
Conservatives are supposed to believe in a government that does less rather than more, and that performs its core functions well. Republicans have stumbled on both counts, delivering bloated and incompetent governance. Their political strategy is to hope Democrats get tainted too by their mere presence in Washington. But Republicans should be worried lest voters confiscate their whiskey and car keys.