Keller @ Large: No Such Thing As Absolute Power In Washington

BOSTON (CBS) – Hype and drama are the coin of the realm in our popular culture, and the common currency of our politics. You know what I mean – even routine political disagreements are characterized as a “crisis” and political adversaries aren’t just people with different opinions – they’re demons, bent on destroying all that’s holy.

Something happened in Washington Tuesday that should put all that in perspective. It seems House Republicans, having watched Donald Trump brush off longstanding political standards of ethical behavior – like the custom of releasing your tax returns – figured ‘Hey, why don’t we push the envelope too?’ So late Monday afternoon, in private, they passed new rules neutering the office that polices Congressional ethics.

When the word got out, there was immediate push back – from Democrats, of course, but also from Conservatives who take the concept of draining the swamp seriously. And after Trump weighed in with a scolding of his own, the rules change was scuttled.

From attack to surrender in less than 24 hours.

What we learn from that is that no one in Washington is immune from the power of public push back. Not the majority in Congress, not the press, not the president, not the president-elect.

Since Election Day, we’ve heard a lot of frantic speculation about what the Trump years might bring. One party rule in government is rarely a good thing, and vigilance is warranted. But when someone cranks up the hype about incipient fascism and other political horror stories, remember what happened Tuesday, and take some comfort there.

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