The new breed of congressmen and women who have taken over the Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives intended to change Washington for the better.
Their obstructionism has done the reverse. It has created a poisonous atmosphere in the nation’s capital.
I want to introduce a time-honored term to describe these folks, comprising mostly the tea party wing of their party.
Let’s call them FNGs.
Vietnam War veterans known the term well. It was used — often disparagingly — to describe the “new guys” who cycled “in-country.” They would walk off their plane wearing dark green jungle fatigues and shiny new boots. You could spot an FNG a mile away. The “NG” stands for “new guy.” The “F”? Well, it stands for arguably the most functionally descriptive term in the English language. I’ll leave it at that.
The FNGs who now populate a segment of the GOP have accomplished one important goal of their overall mission. They have made their mark. They’ve changed the debate in Washington. They have made their presence felt, just as they promised they would when they campaigned for their congressional offices in 2010 and 2012.
Perhaps the most well-known FNG has been Texas’s own Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican pistol who blabbed for 21 hours in a faux filibuster to protest the Affordable Care Act and who has scolded his colleagues publicly for failing to demonstrate the proper commitment to bringing change. He’s been scolded in return by his party elders, such as Sen. John McCain, for impugning the character of current and former senators — such as Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The FNGs now have taken us to the brink of default on our national fiscal obligations. It would be the first time in history that the nation has failed to pay its bills. The gray eminences of both parties know what’s at stake. The FNGs don’t have a clue. They’re about to find out if they stand in the way of a compromise reportedly being hammered out by two senior senators — Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell.
Here’s some good news. They won’t be FNGs forever. It’ll take some time for them to get some seasoning. They’ll have to learn how to compromise and understand that other public officials represent constituencies with different points of view. Not everyone shares the FNGs’ world view.
I just hope they don’t contribute to the destruction of our government before they wise up.