The joy of warmongering, racketeering and moral bankruptcy meeting their makers
"It is going to get worse before it gets better."
Who said that? Dick Armey -- who's not exactly the GOP's favorite Republican right now, what with the former House majority leader gloomily traipsing around the country predicting his party's congressional doom, topped off, in his open opinion, by a Clinton presidency redux.
Of course it all depends on how one looks at "it." Some people -- in fact, a sizeable and growing majority, these days -- would turn Dick's prognostication on its head. The spectre of organized warmongering, racketeering and moral bankruptcy in partisan free fall, they would say, indicates that things are going to get a whole lot better before they get worse -- again, no doubt.
But whichever way one looks at it, there's also no doubt that Dick Armey was merely saying what most Republican pols now feel in their immensely jittery bones. It wasn't that long ago that they believed they had it all: that holy grail of politics -- a permanent majority -- with maybe a George Allen, in fact or figuration, presiding over the massive swindle. It was party time, then; now it's a premature wake.
The cause of it has caught them off guard. As the New York Times reported, "The twist is that the issue Republicans had feared most in the fall, the war in Iraq, has played out legislatively in their favor for the moment. In concert with the White House, Congressional Republicans say they were able to execute a strategy built around the testimony of General David H. Petraeus that allowed them to forestall Democratic calls for troop withdrawals and hold the party together on the war at a crucial turn."
That they did. But then one of their values-friendly finest went and confused a public restroom for a boudoir, which put a nasty kink in his party's amour propre. And that was only the icing on a host of other party-staining scandals. When the party's loss of so many of the fundamentalist faithful is combined with the party's snubbing of traditional conservatives on spending, it is left pretty much with the confident warmongering crowd, which, at last count, was literally down to about five percent.
But their big mistake, Republicans now say, was that they "lacked a ... cohesive plan to counter the Democratic assault over the children’s health insurance program that will be the subject of a veto override vote in the House on Thursday. President Bush’s veto of an expansion of that program and the strategic failure have exposed vulnerable Republicans to a backlash and allowed the party to be painted as uncaring." Imagine that.
Yet it seems to me that Republicans made an even bigger and more fundamental mistake -- a real rookie mistake -- in ignoring that, in so many ways, all politics is indeed local.
Sure, the idiotic war they champion isn't their best calling card in canvassing efforts. Nevertheless said war is over there, not here. Voters may chew the editorial carpet from time to time, and they may rant to family members with similar timing about the idiotic waste of human life and resources in this idiotic war. But day to day, the war is largely out of sight, thus out of mind.
Their children are not. And it doesn't get any more local, more emotional, more visceral, than one's little ones. For the normally GOP-inclined to hear their estranged racketeers now denounce the intolerable spending required to keep kids -- their kids -- healthy, just as the chief racketeer submits yet another obscene bill for an idiotic war ... well, it must seem to the quasi-faithful that all is lost; that their presumed protectors have turned the knife and absolutely lost their minds.
Which they have, of course. What the quasi-faithful still haven't figured out, however, is that their free-falling protectors never had their best interests in mind to begin with.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.