Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grand Old Party? No Longer

There was a  time when the Republican Party, before it took on the moniker GOP, was the liberal party.  That was when it really was the party of Lincoln.  Sigh.  How times change.

And there was a time when conservative meant fiscal responsibility, and hewing closely to the words of the Constitution, limiting the power of government and respect for judicial precedence, economic growth, quiet yet confident foreign policy, but also the preservation of our natural and national treasures.  Such was the party of Theodore Roosevelt.  Hmmm....

In an nearly unholy quest for power, even openly speaking of a permanent majority, nay, actually naming political action committees after such desires [Trimpac, Armpac - thank you Tom Delay for your unintentional honesty], the GOP sold out every single one of its core principles: reigning in spending, limited government, respect for the Constitution.  The cause forthis was the presidency of George W. Bush, and more than likely, the use of the curmudgeon Dick Cheney as a bludgeon in Congress.  But also, there was a glee to finally hold all the levers of power, and a feeling that there was no time to waste.

And so the GOP traded all of its principle for the following: tax cuts for the rich, rolling back 40 years of Supreme Court precedence not through the legislative process but by appointing judges with predetermined goals, opposition to marriage for gays, and virtually unlimited preemptive war powers given not to the Congress but the President, including unlimited power for the President to spy on, imprison, and torture any person he felt like, including American citizens. See, among others: the Authorization for use of force, the PATRIOT Acts, Military Commissions Act, etc. 

And in so doing, the GOP engaged in mendacity heretofore unknown in my life.  They stole an election through judicial fiat [no, I will not forget]; they engaged in Executive secrecy of unprecedented proportions [secrecy is the room where freedom goes to die]; they lied repeated to Congress, the American people and our allies; engaged is money and power grabs the extent of which are still unknown, in the form of, among other things, no-bid contracts to corporations which the VP was a former CEO, and extraordinary rendition - unlawfully seizing persons and sending them off to other nations to be tortured; and they attempted to thwart the ability of the Senate minority to filibuster via Sen. Bill Frist's 'Nuclear Option'.

Six years of this criminal enterprise masked as a presidency, which hit its high water mark in November 2004, and its low the following August, when it was demonstrated by the hand of God [if you believe in such things] to be in over its head [Helluva job, Brownie], was enough for the American people.  In 2006 the Dems stormed back in Congress, and we all know what happened last November.

Since then there has been some very public soul searching by the Republican Party.  In fact, it doesn't look like much of a party, and is more like a luncheon of a dysfunctional family.  The leadership has been, variously, the Chairman Michael Steele, the former Veep Cheney, who is all but an unindicted war criminal, and Rush Limbaugh.  Wow.  While each is popular with a particular constituency, none of these clowns, especially Cheney, could get elected to anything if they were running against a can of Campbell's Soup.

And today, with the shoe firmly on he other foot, on Meet the Press, Mr. Steele dropped some more pearls of wisdom.  Or maybe it was swine droppings.  

When pressed on torture, Chairman Steele stated his concern was "I want to get the information."

Wow.  If this equivocation is not disturbing just coming from a fellow American, think about it in the context of the rest of the world watching the elected leader of one of the two American political parties JUSTIFY TORTURE FOR THE SAKE OF EXPEDIENCY.

New GOP Principle: the ends justify the means, no matter what.

Later, they switched gears, and the discussion moved to appointment of Supreme Court Justices.  Now of the nine on the High Court, six were appointed by Republican presidents [not including two conservatives who have left, Rehnquist who passed away and O'Connor, who retired], and four [Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito] are among the most conservative justices to have ever served.  Therefore, even if President Obama appointed a clone of Karl Marx to the Court and the clone was approved, the essential makeup of the Court would not be substantially altered.  Rather, it would be a status quo, with the moderate Kennedy holding the middle.

After DECADES of campaigns centered around appointing justices with the type of temperment to toss out Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Mr. Steele now states he is concerned about President Obama appointing a justice with empathy.   Now they want judicial restraint!?  He then went on to make an argument he wanted a judge who was going to just look at the facts and apply the law, and not have think about how being black affected a given litigant's life.

Oh, no.  Not empathy.  

New GOP principle: empathy is for wussies, and is not a good quality for such a high and permanent position, and compassion has no place in their party.  Somewhere, Thurgood Marshall is weeping.

I also found it interesting, and a little sad, that Mr. Steele went out and played the reverse race card, as if he is burnishing his own credentials by stating it is unimportant for race to be considered.  The significance is that race was not part of the conversation at that time, and he inserted it all on his own, unprompted.  Therefore, clearly this was a dog whistle for the party faithful, which is pretty much limited to West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and Mississippi.  You do the math.

Finally, Mr. Steele spoke about the possibility of a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate.  He went on a ramble to the effect of " When the Senate gets to 60 there will be very little can be done to prevent" the government from intruding into the everyday lives of families.

Wait a gosh darn second!!!  NOW the GOP is all about the power of the minority?  AFTER the Frist 'Nuclear Option'?  And to go on and talk about the power of the government to intrude in the lives of people four years after ramming the Terry Schiavo bill though Congress is the height of doublespeak and doublethink.

New GOP principle: hypocrisy is no sin, and just because we said it was bad for the other guy to do it, it's okay for us to do so.

There are many reasons why I rail against the Republican Party.  You have read many of them on this post.  But right now one of the most important reasons is that a healthy democratic republic, as is our system, requires more than one party to function properly.  We need to have an honorable opposition.

But now all we have is opposition, and a feckless one at that.  The GOP is a chicken without a head, and is flailing all over the place.  But the chicken won't do that dance forever, and eventually dies.

The GOP needs more than just conservative social issues and tax cuts, and the Dems appear to have found some religion on gun control.  That's 25% of GOP issues!!  And holding onto to torture as an issue, arguing it efficacy, is absurd and more than a little nauseating.

And more and more, I am saddened that there appear to be less and less thoughtful Powells in the GOP, and more and more Palins, that is, so-called "movement conservatives" sharing a brain.

GOP, we hardly knew ye.

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