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what up “zombie congress”?

November 20, 2014

So the 113th Congress is back for its final yawn. The budget deadline looms again. There is a December 11th deadline but nobody rational has any interest in going near a fiscal cliff during the Christmas consumerism season, right? Right?

Timed to the elections earlier this month, former Senator and now Heritage Foundation leader Jim DeMint revived “zombie Congress” rhetoric and attributed the phrase to the pundit George Will. Now, that attribution to George Will is now peppered across the internet because of the mass syndication of DeMint’s article. And an additional article from Heritage (“The Dangers of Lame Duck Sessions in Congress—Unfair and Undemocratic” by Hans A. von Spakovsky) appears well-researched with html footnotes, repeats the same George Will attribution but cites only to DeMint’s article again. When did George Will ever say “zombie Congress” let alone become it’s popularizer?

The “zombie Congress” term first hit ZombieLaw from Congressman Jim Cooper in 2012. The phrase referred to the then lame 112th Congress approaching both a fiscal cliff, sequester and taxmageddon, and it was well timed to the ending of the Mayan long calendar. So back in November of 2012, shortly before DeMint even announced he was joining, the Heritage Foundation was already was pushing this phrase.

That “zombie Congress” rhetoric mostly subsided since early 2013, which makes sense if it’s going to be synonymous with lame-duck. Still, I’ve never noticed George Will refer to it. In searching I see one article from 2005 in which George Will has “zombie” but only in the headline as published in Jewish World Review: “Flying Zombies“, so it was the editor there, because the original headline at the Washington Post was “The Wrongs of the Wright Rule“, in both versions it began:

Some things, said Marx, appear in history twice, first as tragedy, then as farce.

Is this the farce repetition for the 2012 zombie Congress? In the tragedy we flew over the cliff, let taxes hike so that no would violate Grover’s pledge when they vote to raise-by-reducing-what-would-otherwise-automatically-rise (so zombie!) and trimming bloat by drowning agencies under sequester (see underwater zombies?).

George Will, could you please chime in? You have a verified twitter, you occasionally retweet others, it’s a simple question: do you take credit for any recent popularization of the term “zombie Congress” or has Jim DeMint mistakenly attributed it to you for some Heritage propaganda?

Contrast this zombie-like usage by Canada Free Press: “You’re not in sovereign freedom any more. Get the picture?” by Judi McLeod:

Two days after Obama’s China ‘goodwill’ announcement, there has been virtually no reaction from the the newly-elected Republicans and Conservatives, who will arrive zombie-like to Congress in January.

McLeod calls the new Congress “zombie-like” but Jim DeMint thinks the “zombie Congress” is the returning lame-duck session. So, is the zombie the lame-duck or the impassioned newbies? Answer: it’s Congress, they are all zombie!

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… see the Duck Test. And that’s sort of the same as my previous post’s question of obscene-consciousness: do we know it when we see it. Are all political actors (politicians, pundits, press) just undead quacking ducks?

From NPR via WBUR: “Get Ready To Watch This Lame-Duck Congress Sprint” by Ron Elving:

the “zombie Congress” that returned to town this week (the reelected and the not-so-lucky) will do more business in the weeks following the election than it did in many months preceding.

That sounds easy because they’ve done so little in the preceding months but hopes for rapid progress seem overly optimistic. Though it was fun to see them voting yesterday, neither the Keystone-XL-pipe-dream nor the NSA data collection modifications passed Congressional muster and rumor has it President Obama will be ordering executive action on immigration tomorrow. He should have done that from day one, six years ago. There is so much more he can change immediately with the swipe of a pen. He should. Now. That’s why we elect presidents not zombies.

BaltimoreExaminer: “Zombie Democrats won’t be saved in 2016 because GOP already won” by Martin Sieff:

Where is the Democrats’ new vision for America’s future? Where are the detailed programs to revive industry, to credibly create scores of millions of well-paying new jobs, battle the drug addiction plague, restore border security, end the financially ruinous drain and bloody cost of wars without end around the world?

Until they wake up and start coming up with those answers, they’ll stay Dead Men (and Women and Gays) Walking, they’ll stay political zombies. They’ll stay The Living Dead.

We needed those answers six years ago. We still need them now. But it’s not like those answers are coming from the either side; see CSPAN: “Senate Democratic Agenda” and “Senate Republican Agenda“.

Just like on the other side of the pond, “Ukip Think The Tories Are Behaving Like The BNP, And The BNP Agree” by Charlotte Meredith quoting BNP spokesman Steve Squire:

the mainstream political parties were “useless zombie parties”.

Or across our own continent, in Seattle Weekly: “The Voting Dead: How Zombies Predicted the Midterms” by Mark Rahner:

All the zombie-apocalypse prepper folks were really skilled political trend-watchers. … These zombie shows aren’t just entertainment. They’re practice.

To conclude this post about political zombies, there is a new course offering next semester at Brandeis University entitled “The Political Zombie” by Professor Jodie Lynn Austin. Maybe one of her smart students can research a more definitive meme-tracking for “zombie Congress” than what I’ve got so far; or maybe somebody knows George Will and can ask him directly about his involvement.

Until then, see the ZombieLaw posts tagged: zombie-Congress and more generally the ZombieLaw tag: Congress.

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