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8/5/01


 

A WEEK THAT SHOULD LIVE IN INFAMY

By David Podvin

This has been a great week for George W. Bush.

It has been a horrible week for people who are in favor of finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease, protecting the environment, and providing responsible medical care for the average American.

And it has been a week that proved again what is proven every week; that the virtues of the Democratic Party are easily outweighed by its cowardice and stupidity.

Most of all, it has been a devastating week for those immature liberals who persist in comforting themselves with the pathetic delusion that conservatives are not inherently dishonest.

The Republican Party and a few dozen Democratic jellyfish began the carnival of the macabre by declaring that dead fetuses are more important than living humans. They outlawed important scientific research that could have resulted in cures for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and paralysis. The ban was enacted because the Religious Right, the Pope and other primitives insisted that we sanctify fetal tissue. They demand that worshipping this false idol must now legally take priority over ending the great suffering of actual human beings like Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve, and the other seriously ill people who would be important enough to matter if only they were deceased embryos.

If there is a God, then let’s hope that when John Paul II and the pious anti-medical research gang appear before Him on Judgment Day, they are horrified to notice an ominous involuntary trembling in His hands.

And, because we are the ones who are truly compassionate, let’s hope that the religious tyrants are dressed in clothing that is really, really heat resistant.

The next step on the road to making the world a lousier place was an innovative bipartisan concept: Why endanger species one at a time when you can ruin the whole environment with a more comprehensive approach? Towards that end, the Republicans opposed increases in mandatory gas mileage standards that were designed to reduce air pollution and conserve energy. They were successful in large part because of John Dingell and other Democrats who believe that what’s good for General Motors and Exxon is good for America. The incidence of lung cancer and asthma will be higher than it needed to be, but that’s a small price to pay for bigger auto industry and oil industry profits. Besides, the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s folks can keep the lung cancer patients company in the intensive care unit.

This is an example of how our public servants skillfully coordinate legislation on seemingly disparate issues like stem cell research and fuel mileage standards in order to produce socially constructive synergy. As a result, we wind up with the best of all worlds: stem cells that are safe from murderous medical researchers, needlessly inefficient cars that gratuitously poison the air by getting avoidably low gas mileage, and a booming funeral industry.

Having disposed of clean air, the G.O.P./S.O.B coalition next attacked the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They voted to open a beautifully pristine natural treasure to oil company plunder and all of the ecological degradation that goes with it. Their rationale was that it was now necessary to destroy the environment in order to obtain less oil than they had just voted to waste by opposing greater automotive fuel efficiency. The combination of less energy and more pollution was irresistible to a majority of congressmen.

Senator John Kerry promises that there is nothing to worry about. He believes that ANWR will be saved by the steely resolve of the fifty Democratic Senators. These are the stalwarts who were too craven to provide even one seconding vote for the Congressional Black Caucus’ challenge of the Bush election heist. Kerry is confident that his Democratic colleagues will be more vigilant on behalf of the caribou than they were for African Americans.

Maybe. But if I were a caribou, and I had just learned that all that stands between me and total annihilation was the true grit of Democratic Senators, then I would have difficulty maintaining bladder control.

The Senate Democrats are incapable of moral outrage. Whether it’s spurious impeachments or stolen elections, they lack the gift of indignation. They are passive victims.

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan just paved the way for the Navy to pick up the energy bill of Dick Cheney, the leach who recently chastised California consumers for “whining” about their increased energy costs. Rather than using Cheney’s extraordinary hypocrisy and chutzpah to make a point on behalf of American consumers, Dorgan knuckled under. He said, “We will approve the vice president’s request as a matter of comity between the Administration and Congress.” This is the same comity-loving administration that has repeatedly attacked the Congressional Democrats for dishonesty, divisiveness, and working against the best interests of America.

Senator Dorgan needs to learn that it is difficult for those of us outside the Beltway to distinguish between unilateral comity and capitulation.

The most outrageous example of Democratic fecklessness occurred when right wing Republican Charles Norwood stabbed his “bipartisan allies” in the back and cut a secret deal with Bush that torpedoed a legitimate patient’s bill of rights.

How is that Dick Gephardt and his gullible flock allowed themselves to be “stabbed in the back” by one of the most conservative members of Congress? Last week, an article about Norwood included a statement from Bob Barr saying that anything Norwood negotiated was all right by him, sight unseen.

I am not a savvy political professional like Gephardt, but what I immediately inferred from Barr’s comment was that Norwood was not to be trusted. If a fascist like Barr thought that Norwood was a swell guy, then Norwood was the last man on planet Earth who Democrats should be viewing as an “ally”.

Most tellingly, when Norwood phoned his Democratic victims to let them know that he had just betrayed them, “Their reactions were restrained. It could have been a lot worse.”

And it would have been a lot worse, if they weren’t born to be piñatas. You lied to them, you betrayed them, you publicly humiliated them, you destroyed their multiyear efforts on an issue that is supposedly extremely important to them, and they responded with “restraint”. That’s the Democratic Party in a nutshell. Cowardice.

And stupidity. You don’t have to be the Amazing Kreskin to anticipate that the Republicans will renege on their commitments – they do it all the time. Remember when the moderate (sic) Republicans promised to support campaign finance reform and then broke their word? The same thing has happened on issue after issue. The Democratic Charlie Browns keep trying to kick the ball, and the Republican Lucys keep making fools of them.

The operative cliché here is, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me six hundred thousand times, shame on me.”

Most liberals are caring people. They are willing to make personal sacrifices so that the less fortunate can have a better quality of life. They are relatively tolerant of dissent. Most laudably, they are not conservatives. However, liberals have one huge weakness – they cannot emotionally come to terms with the fact that their opponents have evil intentions. This might seem like a positive view of life, but it is incredibly destructive. It is the same shortcoming suffered by Neville Chamberlain: an inability to accept the deeply disturbing fact that your opponent is evil. This invariably leads to horrible consequences. The disgusting double-dealing involving the patient’s bill of rights could never have happened if liberals were capable of accepting the unpleasant reality that conservatives cannot be trusted. The preference to live in self-delusional bliss is not a positive quality.

Calamities are difficult enough to handle even when there is a learning experience involved, but it is inexcusable for liberals to be so adamant in maintaining their comforting delusions about the right wing when each disaster merely becomes a prelude to the next disaster.

Not all of the bad news was on Capitol Hill. The Gallup Poll reported that sixty three percent of the American people believe that Bush is an “honest man”. George W. Bush, who has lied about tax cuts, White House vandalism, energy policy, prescription drug coverage for seniors, global warming, drunk driving, etc., ad nauseum, is viewed by a majority of Americans as being honest. It is a surrealistic obscenity that this serial liar gets high marks for honesty.

The temptation is to blame the media for its uncritical devotion to He Who Cannot Think. However, the mainstream media can be blamed only if you fail to come to terms with the fact that it is the tribune of big business. Multinational corporations are not going to turn on Bush no matter what he does, as long as what he does continues to be exactly what they tell him to do.

The myth of Bush “honesty” is the Democrats’ fault. The message that Bush lies every time he opens his mouth has a great foundation in fact and is ready to be delivered. The problem is that the messenger is gutlessly mute. The Democrats should have a coordinated strategy of emphasizing his dishonesty whenever they appear in public. They need to pound home this essential and accurate message every chance they get. They have the ability to prove that the entire Bush agenda is a fraud, but they are afraid to meet the challenge.

Instead, what happens is that Tom Daschle or Jimmy Carter will occasionally make a tepid criticism of Bush. They then get bashed by the media for ruining the “new atmosphere” that W. has ushered into Washington, an atmosphere that forbids criticism of any president whose mental wattage is too weak to illuminate a penlight. The mandatory sequence requires a retraction, followed by an apology. Finally, we all get back to America’s business, which apparently now consists of Bush playing T-ball with the kids on the White House lawn while Cheney is in the Oval Office ladling out the public largesse to G.O.P. campaign contributors.

The Democrats are the opposition party. They are supposed to provide a principled alternative for the insignificant fifty two percent of American fringe voters who rejected Bush in November. So far, Democratic officeholders have behaved like the Simpson jury, with their eyes shut so hard to the unpleasant truth that it’s amazing they don’t pass out from the strain.

Let’s not blame the corrupt, deceitful media for failing to report strong Democratic opposition to Bush until there’s some strong Democratic opposition to Bush for the corrupt, deceitful media to fail to report.

A sparsely covered story might turn out to be the most foreboding development of this very sad week. Current Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said that the party needs to change its philosophy in order to appeal to Southern voters who are more culturally and religiously conservative.

When McAuliffe was appointed to lead the Democrats, Rush Limbaugh said that he was “a dangerous and evil man who was out to destroy the Republican Party”. This seemed to confirm that the new chairman must be a wonderful human being. However, McAuliffe’s recent statement proves once again that Democrats (not named Clinton) who are placed in positions of party leadership immediately go senile. His plan to reshape the party with the intention of winning the South is a formula for failure on a grand scale.

In 2000, the Democrats nominated an intelligent, honorable man who was an abysmal candidate. He was so paranoid about being associated with the greatest president since F.D.R. that he refused to embrace the administration’s spectacular economic record, thereby forfeiting his best issue. He was so concerned about alienating swing voters by going negative with a justified critique of his debauched opponent that he forfeited his second best issue. He was so afraid of incurring the wrath of right wing pundits that he was ineffectually passive during the critical second debate. He chose to take the masochistic “high road” instead of aggressively answering the vicious slanders about him from the Republicans and their media vipers. He failed to provide our learning disabled friends in the Green Party with an easy to understand explanation about why electing a certain right wing cretin would be a BAD thing for consumers and the environment. His incompetent campaign was characterized by one missed opportunity after another.

And he still won.

He won the election because Democratic issues are far more popular than Republican issues, which has something to do with the fact that conservatives view the middle class as chumps and the poor as Soylent Green. The right wing’s predatory approach towards humanity helped to offset the huge G.O.P. advantage in fundraising and their corporate stranglehold on the mainstream media.

Public opinion polls reveal that the majority of Southern voters do not believe in the Separation of Church and State. They are, ahem, “unenthusiastic” about civil rights enforcement. They oppose gun control, including machine gun control. They overwhelmingly supported the Bush tax cut that screwed them over so that the rich people whom they admire so much could have some extra cash – theirs. They are anti-choice.

A majority of Southerners still have a positive opinion of Nixon.

If the Democrats surrender their winning positions on the issues in a quixotic attempt to seduce voters who aren’t going to support them anyway, then Chairman McAuliffe will go down as the greatest strategist since General Custer.

In short, McAuliffe’s proposal is just more unworkable Democratic Leadership Council foolishness, where the operating principle is, “Let’s take our loyal voters for granted and see how much we can mimic the Republicans.”

If he wants to expand the Democratic base, then McAuliffe can begin by convincing the Democrats in Congress to adopt as their top priority the installation of state of the art voting machines in every American precinct. This hasn’t even been done in California, where the Democrats totally control the government and could justify the expense as the cost of true democracy. It would have the additional benefit of giving the Democratic Party a huge boost in the number of votes cast by its supporters that would actually be counted. The equation for this is:

Good for America + Good for the Democratic Party = Not Going To Happen.

Being a Democrat is like rooting for the Washington Generals.

Listen carefully to conservatives and you will frequently hear them making cryptic references to the social benefits of low voter turnout. “Why should ‘uninformed’ people vote?” This is an obsession for right wing radio talk show hosts. “Who wants more people to vote?” they ask. “More doesn’t mean better. Only those who are ‘well informed’ should cast a ballot. Don’t feel obligated to vote. If you’re not sure, then go to the beach instead.”

Of course, what they really have in mind is, “Go to the soul food restaurant instead.”

Or, “Go have a nice siesta instead.”

They are terrified of having the Democratic base make its way to the polls, because the affection that conservatives have for representative democracy is rivaled only by the affection that snails have for table salt. Conservatives are Hamiltonian elitists who want fewer people to vote. “The will of the people” is their enemy.

There is a way for the Democratic Party to stop the Republicans from turning America into a corporate version of “The Lord Of The Flies”. The party must strongly promote programs that are designed to help the average citizen, rather than continuing to hope that it will seem statesmanlike to stand helplessly by while the G.O.P. cheats the public. Democrats must accept the challenge of learning to explain complex policies in everyday language, rather than defaulting out of fear that they will be overwhelmed by simplistic Republican demagoguery. At the same time, Democrats must have the courage to aggressively challenge the dishonesty of Republicans who use smear tactics to personally destroy their opponents while they employ deception to camouflage the specifics of their unpopular conservative proposals.

This was a week in which many bad things happened. The most miserably frustrating part is that the Democrats could have prevented destructive legislation from being passed. They have it within their power to stop the Republicans from hurting innocent people and destroying the environment. With a little guts and a little brains, the Democrats can insure that there are going to be many weeks when it will be the Republicans who are frustrated and miserable.

That would be horrible for George W. Bush.

It would be great for people who are in favor of finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease, protecting the environment, and providing responsible medical care for the average American.

More David Podvin

Podvin, the Series

 


Last changed: December 13, 2009