‘Cannot See the Forest for the Trees’ is an old English idiom that the dictionary says dates back to the 16th Century. It describes a situation in which the bigger picture is overlooked because of a focus on detail.
It came to mind during the 4-day super-charged opening of the 118th Congress that ultimately resulted in the election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker.
Twenty House Republicans turned the usually ritualistic formality into high drama. There was a dichotomy of motivations as Karl Rove pointed out in the Wall Street Journal today. Some of those members had a sincere if not passionate interest in rules changes that would open up the legislative process so that rank-and-file members had more influence over the flow of bills, resolutions, and amendments. There was merit in some of those changes, but not all. Karen Tumulty explored those worthwhile procedures in the Washington Post.
Others were making a power grab or just sticking it to Kevin McCarthy, who they consider a poor legislator and lacking in ideology or allegiance to their right-wing orthodoxy—distinguishable from conservative orthodoxy.
Here is an article I wrote in May of 2009 that I thought you would all find of interest:
(CNN) – “It is important for us to have a strong Republican Party,” Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tauntingly told a press conference on April 23. “And I hope that the next generation will take back the Republican Party for the Grand Old Party that it used to be.”
I was watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and complaining about the blurriness of the picture. I thought I’d better call Comcast when my wife, who knows about such things, said it wasn’t the TV. It was ABC softening the lighting to make Diane’s wrinkles and the bags under her eyes less noticeable. The next day the Washington Examiner ran a picture of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s cover shot in Capitol File magazine that makes her look half her age. The reason: “There is airbrushing around her eyes…her upper lid has been airbrushed to make it look like there is less fat on the inside…and there is airbrushing on the line of her jaw…her neck has been blended, and the lines on her face are very subtle,” according to a plastic surgeon. The next day in the Washington Post, a big Style section splash about Rep. Kevin McCarthy and colleagues toning up the muscles with celebrity trainer Tony Horton in the exclusive House gym. I guess it’s important to look good when you’re doing well.