“It,” Mark Twain quipped in Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, “could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” That most American of writers didn’t have a very high opinion of our elected federal legislators, attributing the “kindly feeling” Congresses had “for idiots” to their “personal experience and heredity”.
It seems most Americans share his disdain for Congress. For a post yesterday, I tracked down Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s favorability ratings, I expected them to be low, but what I also noted was that both Republican leaders, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are slightly underwater, with each having an unfavorable rating slightly about his favorable, 4 and 2 points respectively. The Democratic leaders by contrast have even more significant deficits, 29 points for Mrs. Pelosi and 26 for Mr. Reid. While a plurality of Americans give the Republicans unfavorable ratings, a majority give such ratings to the Democrats.
And no matter which party is in power, congressional disapproval remains high.
This lead me to wonder has there even been a time period when Americans had a favorable opinion of the legislative branch — and its leaders?
*over an extended period of time.