Column for 9 September, 2007
“In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Another well-known Cherokee columnist, Will Rogers, once said, “I don’t make jokes; I just watch the government and report the facts.” With that in mind, it’s hard to know where to begin this week. Let’s start with Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), the latest in a long parade of smarmy, self-righteous hypocritical blowhards in the Republic Party to be brought low by their own spectacular moral implosions. Probably the least-sympathetic character imaginable, with his near-perfect homophobic voting record and prissy denunciation of Bill Clinton as a “nasty, bad, naughty boy,” Craig deserves at least this from the criminal defense lawyer in me: I can’t see how he really committed a crime. Are we really now accusing people of a sex crime like public lewdness based on some Gene Kelly-esque secret gay tap-dancing code? I can’t imagine advising a client of mine to plead under those circumstances (though, admittedly, all I know about the case is what I read in the funny papers). Still, though, it can legitimately be asked, why is Craig twisting in the wind, abandoned by his own Party (other than the fact that Idaho, unlike Louisiana, home to the equally naughty Senator David Vitter, has a safely Republican governor to fill any vacancy), while Bill Clinton had a higher approval rating on the day he was impeached than George W. Bush has had since 2004? Simple; people knew what they were getting when they voted for Bill Clinton. Thanks to numerous “bimbo eruptions” during the 1992 campaign, Clinton’s roving eye was well-known to the electorate. More importantly, however, Clinton never tried to set himself up as the moral scold of the nation, unlike the GOP which has elevated the search for splinters in their neighbor’s eyes to an art form. You could make the same argument about Cong. Barney Frank’s indiscretions. If there is one thing American voters cannot abide, it’s a hypocrite. Senator Craig built and stoked the bonfire that is currently, painfully slowly, immolating him. He gets no sympathy from me on that score.
Next up, is Fred Thompson the long-prophesied Second Coming of Reagan? On the surface, there are some shocking similarities (much like Kennedy and Lincoln): two actors of minimal talent; both began their careers as snitches (Reagan to the FBI, Thompson as Nixon’s mole on the Watergate Committee); both political dilettantes and fake populists (Thompson with his fake red pickup truck shtick stolen from Victor Morales, Reagan with his policies that annihilated the small businessmen and family farmers he always included in photo-ops); neither would be mistaken for intellectual giants; both with reputations for laziness and an aversion to inconvenient facts; and both with a love for empty jingoistic sloganeering masquerading as patriotism. There are, of course, differences. As a lawyer, Thompson is at least familiar with the Constitution and laws he plans to ignore or circumvent and as a lobbyist, Thompson presumably understands the basic structure of government he intends to subvert. Also, there is no evidence as yet that Thompson basis all of his decisions (such as his spectacularly inept campaign) on advice from astrologers. Finally, Thompson never co-starred with a chimpanzee.
Okay, what else? The Petraeus Report? It’s a lie; you all know that already, right? It’s being written by the White House, not the general. In fact, there were some indications early on that the general wouldn’t even be allowed to read it to Congress before that idea was shot down in flames. The recent GAO Report is probably the closest thing to the truth We the People will be allowed to see, which is why the War Party is trying to discredit it and the Administration is diligently attempting to cook the books on the level of sectarian violence in Iraq. Not that it matters, of course; Bush’s long, bloody debacle will not end one day before January 20, 2009. President Bush may make a show of bringing some troops home for a photo-op parade or something as an October Surprise next year, but he has no intention whatsoever of bringing this catastrophe to an end, facts be damned, and Congress lacks the votes to stop him. Of course, even if Congress had the votes, the President would simply ignore them, based on his delusional belief that the Founding Fathers intended to imbue the Chief Executive with the powers of a god-king.
Hmm, well, how about that economy? The sub-prime mortgage market is tanking, which was inevitable given that it was, quite literally, based on the belief that money could in fact grow on trees, and now the vultures of the credit card industry are ramping-up their advertising targeted to people who have just seen their house payments nearly double. Kind of makes you understand why the first Texas constitution outlawed banks, doesn’t it?
Wow, that was depressing. At least things are looking up in Texas, where alleged Governor Rick Perry (in between lobbying Congress for the right to turn the interstates into toll-roads) accidentally did the right thing by commuting the death sentence of a man who never actually killed anybody. I can only hope that it turns out (as with the HPV inoculations) that Perry only did it for the campaign donations, so I don’t have to revise my opinion of him as a preening, narcissistic tool.