Monday, January 05, 2009

Math is not his strong suit

After setting himself up for some heavy duty criticism by trying to block Obama's plans for economic stimulus and infrastructure repair, Sen. Mitch McConnell is suddenly Mr. Bipartisanship. Or at least he's learned the word and likes to throw it around a lot. Appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos says we need to go slow on this, we need to examine things from every angle, and the Democrats have to listen to the concerns of the Republicans and let them "be a part of the process." Let's set aside for a moment the irony of any Republican who's been in congress over he last sixteen years championing the rights of the minority or demanding that we go slow on emergency legislation. McConnell's justification for giving him some concessions isn't even mathematically correct. He begins with:
Look, I think everyone knows that half the American public is represented by a Republican senator.

And, just to make sure we catch that talking point, he repeats it later.
Do we want to do it with essentially no hearings, no input, for example, in the Senate from Republican senators who represent half of the American population?

Let's do the math on that one. There are forty one Republicans in the Senate (not counting Joe Lieberman). Forty one out of a hundred is--um, divide... move the decimal two places..okay--forty one percent. According to the Census Bureau, the population of the fifty states on July 1, 2008 was 281 million (with Puerto Rico, DC, and the Pacific territories the total population was 305 million). Fourteen states with a total population of about seventy four million are represented by two Republican senators each. Thirteen states with a total population of seventy nine million have only one Republican senator each. That means about one hundred fourteen million people are represented by Republicans. One hundred fourteen into two hundred eighty one is roughly forty percent. Forty percent (or even forty one) is not half.

The generous conclusion is that McConnell is just plain stupid. The more realistic conclusion is that he's disingenuous and trying to mislead us. It probably won't do any good to point out his double standard over the rights of the minority when Republicans are in charge versus the rights of the minority when Democrats are in charge. Sadly, crying hypocrisy over the slightest boo-boo has become so much in vogue over the years, that no one pays attention to genuine hypocrisy anymore. It's probably best just to call him stupid and be done with it. We would rather win on the issues, but winning because we make the other side look ridiculous is still winning, and getting the job done is more important than accumulating debating points.

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