Editor’s Note: If a Republican manages to get elected president in 2008, after what those guys have been doing for the past eight years, then the American people deserve the continuing disaster that’s characterized the 21st century thus far. With the mess we’re in, you’d think that the Democrats could nominate Homer Simpson and still win, but, as of the summer of 2007, most people still think it’s going to be a close election. God help us — we may just be too dumb to live.
There Are Some Things You Just Don’t Need to Hear
In football, it’s called “running out the clock,” and President Bush seems committed to that strategy for the remainder of his reign. Without re-election to worry about, and with an approval rating so low his base is limited to Sean-Hannity-like partisans so fanatical that even a nuclear strike against Switzerland wouldn’t dent their loyalty, the Bush administration can now pursue policies that would embarrass politicians who actually cared about their reputations.
They show contempt for subpoenas and jury verdicts, ignore Congress and public opinion, and have gone so far as to invoke executive privilege to stonewall an investigation into the cover-up of former football star Pat Tillman’s death from friendly fire in Afghanistan. Divorced from reality, the president gives speeches on Iraq to which no one pays any attention, while the vice president asserts he’s not part of the executive branch and refuses to answer to anyone.
There is one consolation in all this, however. In 2009, we’ll have heard the last of Dick and W, Condi and Alberto as deciders of American policy. And, if they’re replaced by Democrats, maybe we won’t have to hear as many of the Bush-era catchphrases that have polluted the political landscape for the past seven years.
Although the campaign slogan compassionate conservatism vanished immediately (nearly as fast as Bush 41’s “kinder, gentler nation”), Republicans insist on flogging family values, Christian values and the offensive corollary, God is a Republican. As a result, the media drones on endlessly about values voters, for whom the most-important values seem to be a loathing for family planning, homosexuals and taxes on the wealthy.
Right-wingers love to ask what would Jesus do?, then ignore the fact that Jesus spoke often about peace and having compassion for the poor, but never once mentioned abortion, gay sex or the capital gains tax. Of course, liberals point this out because — as the Joseph Goebbels of the Right, Ann Coulter, has revealed — liberals are atheists.
In her book, “Godless,” Ms. Coulter — who has the spiritual depth of something spawned from the mating of Donald Trump and Paris Hilton — polishes her social conservative bona fides by disclosing that, because Democrats are godless, they worship evolution. This now-discredited branch of science, which, curiously enough, continues to be taught in such hellish venues as Yale, MIT, Stanford and Oxford, has been overtaken in the 21st century by creation science, which is popular in places like Bob Jones University and is now being touted on the campaign trail by several GOP presidential hopefuls.
Republican campaigners now attack the scientific axis of evil — evolution, global warming and stem-cell research — because their erstwhile strong suit, defense of the family, isn’t quite as believable this time around. As right-wing columnist Kate O’Beirne has ironically pointed out, the only top GOP candidate still on his first wife is the Mormon, Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, the Mark Foley scandal has reflected somewhat poorly on social conservatism, as has evangelical pastor Ted Haggard’s dalliance with male prostitutes and methamphetamines, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani’s six marriages and the associated seamy affairs, and the drug-abusing Rush Limbaugh’s three divorces.
At the same time, homophobic speeches in defense of marriage from adulterous senator David Vitter began to sound just a tad hypocritical once his name cropped up in the D.C. Madam’s address book. Marriage appears to be in more danger from the Louisiana Republican than from Ellen DeGeneres. And the Larry Craig situation doesn’t exactly look like a winner for gay-bashing Republicans either.
Since the 2006 election, conservative gasbag Bill O’Reilly has constantly bloviated about the demonic San Francisco values of Democratic congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, a mother of five and grandmother of six, who’s been married for more than 40 years to her first husband. Maybe now, the fair and balanced O’Reilly will start pontificating about “Louisiana values” (or “GOP values”) instead … but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Sen. Vitter once held Bob Livingston’s House seat, after that Louisiana Republican resigned due to the airing of his own adulterous past. Ironically, Livingston’s indiscretions surfaced after he’d been nominated to succeed repeat-adulterer Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Livingston and Gingrich were instrumental in Clinton’s impeachment, and Vitter called Clinton “morally unfit to govern,” although Vitter has indicated no urge to vacate his own office for a similar sin.
Conservatives continually reiterated that the Lewinsky affair wasn’t about sex, but such assertions are generally about as trustworthy as the protestation, “I’m not a prude.” (Have you ever heard anyone who isn’t a prude make that claim?) Of course, Newt may have believed it wasn’t about sex, because, at the time, the married congressman was carrying on an affair with a congressional aide.
Clinton was ostensibly impeached for perjury, because the GOP is the party of law and order. And, of course, lying under oath about sex is more heinous than lying about matters of national security — how else can you explain conservative adulation for convicted perjurer Scooter Libby?
Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson, whose enthusiasm for “Law and Order” seems limited to his T.V. show and to Democratic liars, recommended a full pardon for Scooter, but he had to settle for his president merely commuting the convicted felon’s prison sentence. Who said Mr. Bush isn’t capable of compromise? He’s a uniter, not a divider.
On the other hand, W’s prosecution of the Iraq war has been slightly more polarizing. According to the Fox News Channel, and the rest of the GOP media machine, opponents of the war are Defeatocrats and part of the hate-America crowd. Apparently oblivious to the lives being sacrificed in a conflict that, realistically, this administration has already lost, the neocons hope to string out the slaughter long enough to enable what should rightly be called “The Bush War” to be lost by the next president. Then, they can blame it on the Defeatocrats and hope the rest of us buy it.
And that tactic might just work, because little that’s happened since 2000 supports their cynical notion that the American people are smart. After all, this is the same electorate that followed up eight years of peace, prosperity and fiscal responsibility under Bill Clinton by electing a president with almost no experience in governing, and virtually no foreign policy expertise at all — a man who couldn’t even name the leader of Pakistan.
But it’s all cynical anyway: They know we’re not smart. In fact, Republicans count on it. How else could they run up the biggest deficits in the history of mankind, then expect us to continue believing the Democrats are big spenders? And why else would Mr. Bush contradict his own National Intelligence Estimates to insist that al Qaida will follow us home, and that terrorists based in Pakistan will attack us here if we don’t keep our military pinned down in Baghdad?
Maybe it works because too many of us swallowed another cliché of the right: “George Bush is actually smart.” Apparently, we were impressed that he attended Yale, but weren’t smart enough to figure out that there were a couple reasons a self-described C-minus student could land in the Ivy League:
There’s as much empirical evidence for W’s brilliance as there is for another conservative mantra: “Dick Cheney is a tough guy.” Huh?!? Pasty and overweight, Cheney has been sickly for decades. With three heart attacks and a quadruple bypass before he was 50, he needs the full capabilities of 21st century medicine just to give him the strength to persist in lying to the GOP base about the connections between Saddam and 9/11.
A rabid hawk for years, this tough guy avoided military service because he had “other priorities in the 60s than military service.” But maybe his reputation comes from blasting a 78-year-old lawyer in the face with a shotgun, for which the victim later apologized. Or could it be based on Cheney’s demolition of a charisma-deprived Joe Lieberman in the 2000 vice-presidential debate?
Perhaps it’s because he told the courtly and elderly Vermont senator Patrick Leahy to “go f**k yourself”? Notice he didn’t get in the face of Sen. Jack Murtha, an ex-Marine, nor did he cuss out an actual war hero like John Kerry. Given Cheney’s frail condition, if it comes to a fight, my money’s on Sen. Leahy, or Nancy Pelosi, who seems tougher than either of them. But Scooter would probably step in and take the punch for Dick anyway.
Now that the worst presidency since James Buchanan’s is finally coming to a close, could we at least stop hearing the slogan, failure isn’t an option? Realistically, unless you’re God or Michael Jordan, failure is always an option — a fact the Bush administration has labored for two terms to demonstrate.
And, finally, can we get a break from hearing about what Ronald Reagan would do? Given the Bush legacy, it’s understandable that nostalgic Republican candidates would preface their debate responses by invoking “The Great Communicator.” (Note that they never seem to theorize how W would handle anything.) But the Cold War’s over, and what The Gipper would do is about as relevant as what Herbert Hoover would do.
As the next election approaches, show how smart you are. When you hear Republican candidates use one of their hypocritical and nonsensical catchphrases, ask yourself, “Haven’t I had enough yet?” In fact, Had Enough? should be the Democrats’ 2008 bumper sticker, and the most overused phrase we hear between now and Election Day.
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