Cleburne Times-Review Article for 11 June, 2006
“”But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name because you are a warrior and have shed blood.”
--1 Chronicles 28:3
Truly, we live in bizarre political times when Republicans like Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert rush to the defense of a Democratic Congressman from Louisiana (who by all accounts is so crooked that when he dies they will have to screw him into the ground) and I am defending the Republican President of the United States against attacks by the Chairman of the Johnson County Republic Party. What’s next? Arlene Wohlgemuth campaigning for better health care for poor children? Senator Rick Santorum stumping for legalized gay marriage? George W. Bush telling the truth? Rob Orr actually representing the interests of his constituents? But no, if you look a little closer, there is more to both of these scenarios then meets the eye. You would think, at first blush, that Republicans would be eager to exploit Cong. William Jefferson’s penchant for stuffing inexplicably large amounts of cash into his refrigerator, giving the GOP something to counteract the widespread public perception that their party is bloated and corrupt and riddled with indictments. But Republican outrage over the FBI’s raid on Jefferson’s Capitol Hill office hasn’t stirred the legislative branch, up until now the Bush Administration’s faithful Lhasa Apso, because of some grand Constitutional principle. Instead, the anger and vitriol (one Republican Congressman advocated impeaching Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Speaker Hastert opined that the FBI was spreading false rumors about him being the target of a corruption inquiry) stems from two factors: one, Congress is sick of being treated with barely-concealed contempt by the White House. On issue after issue, President Bush’s cabal have given their own party faithful in the House and Senate the back of the hand. This was merely the proverbial straw that broke the elephant’s back. Second, Congressional Republicans know for whom the search warrant tolls, it tolls for them. If the FBI can barge into Jefferson’s office on a corruption investigation, then what’s to stop them from going after one of the several GOP House members facing ethical quagmires of their own? So, instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to at least spread the stench of corruption around a bit, the Republicans are instead wallowing in it.
Likewise, the statements of the Johnson County Republic Party Chairman (and the antics at the recent GOP State Convention in San Antonio) reinforce what I wrote about in a previous column: the President and Congress’ abysmal approval ratings are due not to perfidious liberals or even squishy moderates, but conservatives deserting them over issues like immigration and profligate spending. Certain Republicans are so virulently opposed to government doing anything for anyone who actually needs help, they cannot see the obvious economic value of investing in such things as, for example, improving Hamm Creek. Other Republicans are so blinded by their delusional paranoia of “them” (whether “they” are illegal aliens, homosexuals or evil liberals), they can easily subscribe to the asinine notion that a federal government that could not evacuate 1.2 million people from New Orleans can somehow magically teleport 12-20 million people back to Mexico. The darker, xenophobic side of this paranoia was reflected in San Antonio, where the overwhelmingly white delegates shunned the booth of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly as though it was handing out free doses of avian flu and flocked instead to buy t-shirts that read “Keep American Beautiful! Put Up the Wall!” I have tried to at least defend such moronic behavior from charges of racism by pointing out that it is more akin to nativism, the anti-immigrant phobia of 150 years ago (then directed against Irish, Italians, Poles and Germans) by the aptly named Know-Nothing Party. But my task is made harder by the deafening silence of these crackpots at the discovery that real, live, suspected terrorists may be trying to sneak across the completely unprotected Canadian border.
Meanwhile, here at home, the Chairman (and certain pre-fabricated letters to the editor) continue the disheartening trend of Republicans adopting one of the least-appealing aspects of liberals: their whiny, self-indulgent sense of victimhood. When a Republican who has either never served in uniform, or served under somewhat suspect circumstances, denounces a decorated Democratic veteran such as Max Cleland, John Kerry, or John Murtha as a “traitor,” “fraud,” or “coward,” why that’s simply politics. But let any Democrat even mention the service of a Republican candidate, and it’s a despicable attack upon the virtue of all who served. Spare us. Young Van Taylor should be rightly proud of his service as a Marine and we should all be grateful that he (unlike so many others who loudly profess their support for this war from the safety of a computer keyboard) had the courage to put on a uniform, pick up a rifle and rush into harm’s way. But his time in action does not grant him a free pass, nor automatically make him the best candidate for the job, especially given his contradictory position as a veteran who slavishly supports an Administration with a contemptible record on veteran’s issues. Likewise, it is a very faint defense to claim that young Taylor should be excused from informing us where in the range of $5 million to $25 million his value of Exxon Mobil stock lies simply because he has had “good fortune.” In other words, don’t hate me just because I’m a multi-millionaire political dilettante carpetbagger trust-fund baby from North Dallas. That doesn’t strike me as a particularly effective bumper-sticker slogan, but it might explain why no one in West, his supposed hometown, seems to even know who he is.