Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Opening Shot in the Republican Civil War

The opening shot in the coming Republican Civil War has been fired against the bow of the good ship USS Scott Brown. Senator Brown's decision to vote for the Jobs Bill, leading several other Republicans to break ranks and refusing to filibuster yet another Democratic initiative, has angered teabaggers and Glenn Beck. The irony is that this Jobs Bill contains tax cut incentives for companies to hire more workers. Tax cuts. Republicans. What's the problem? Oh...my bad. Republicans aren't interested in putting America first. Its all about towing the party line to make Obama's presidency a failure, like their beloved King George W. And this from a party that loves to accuse liberals of being "unpatriotic" for not supporting their disasterous war policies.

Because of Senator Scott Brown's decision (he does, after all, represent the voters of Massachusetts and faces reelection in 2012, which is necessary for him to win if he has any hopes of becoming president in 2016), teabaggers are already in an uproar and have swamped his Facebook wall with cries of treason and betrayal, egged on by Glenn Beck, who gloated on his show "I told you so!" Beck never trusted Brown, especially after the election night victory when an excited and unguarded Brown proudly announced that his daughters were "available!" A lot of people freaked out about that comment, but I thought it was just something Brown blurted out without thinking, caught off guard by the euphoria of his unexpected win. To me, it showed a guy who is clearly proud of his daughters and that he's not a scripted politician. From stories I've read, his daughters seem to think of him as a cool dad (with some dorky moments). Parents often embarrass their children. Its a natural fact of life. At least Scott Brown has a sense of humour about it.

Beck said a few weeks ago that he thinks Brown is the type who will end up with a dead intern on his hands. A comment like that is stupid and reckless. Its an obvious reference to Democratic Congressman Gary Condit, whose career ended because of outrage over the missing intern Chandra Levy in 2001-2002. Later news reports indicated that Levy was a victim of a random killer who targeted women in the D.C. area. Condit was only guilty of having a sexual affair with her while she was alive and he was married. But Beck in his batshit crazy teabaggery is going to smear a freshman Senator who might be the best chance the Republicans have for winning the White House in 2016? I think its the jealousy talking. Beck wishes that he had Brown's qualities.

What's more interesting about this story is how quickly the teabaggers have become disappointed with a Senator they helped elect. This is more evidence that the teabaggers have the intellectual capacity of a child. Its always "all or nothing!" No compromises, ever! Despite the teabaggers being in the minority (most Americans want affordable health care, are able to live in a multicultural country, and realize that Bush was a complete disaster for our country in every way imaginable), they want to impose their warped value system on the rest of us. I know that some Beck and Palin fans on Facebook love to claim that this movement existed during the Bush years, but that is a LIE. During the Bush years, these teabaggers were loyal sheep who accused anyone who protested against Bush as being treasonous communists and terrorists. The teabag movement officially began last year around Tax Day (the Ides of April) and were made up of the same group of people who swarmed to Sarah Palin rallies during the Fall 2008 campaign. They didn't give a shit about the deficit when their beloved Bush passed through two tax cuts (in 2001 and 2003) and launched two expensive wars on borrowed money. The only people who protested then were progressives, who were accused of being unpatriotic. I know, because I was one of those who protested in marches.

The inability of teabaggers to be honest about their motives and prior history (blind to Bush's disasterous economic policies, but hyper-critical of Obama's economic stimulus plan) makes it difficult to take them seriously. They lack credibility. If they want credibility, there is something that they can do. My suggestion would be for the teabaggers to organize a citizen's arrest of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and deliver them to the Hague to face a War Crimes Tribunal. By showing that they hold the actual people responsible for the state of our economy would go a long way in supporting their movement against the corporate bailouts. Until they do something to show that they aren't loyal Bush sheeple, they have no grounds of credibility to stand on. To me, teabaggers are nothing more than bitter white folks who feel left behind in a multicultural country that has a black president.

Senator Scott Brown's decision to support the Jobs Bill is the first bold move I have been interested to see if he had the courage to make. On Tuesday night, I had read an interesting article on Brown from The New York Times. It confirmed my initial impression of him...he's a very likable and charismatic guy. Most importantly, he's not an ideologue. The Republicans I got along best in the Navy, in college, and on my internship program were all Republicans who were pragmatic and not ideologues. I guess that's because I'm a pragmatic person, myself. I don't believe in "all or nothing" standards of purity that both the extremists on the right and left demand of their politicians. In fact, I've fought against firebrand liberals like Congresswoman Cynthic McKinney and Dennis Kucinich (and their blind supporters) because I detected a phony devotion to a cause, with an insistence on no compromises.

Politicians aren't priests. In a nation of 300 million citizens, its ludicrous to think that a tiny minority on either side can impose their will on the moderate majority. Yes, I am a Democrat and a pretty loyal one at that. However, had I lived in Massachusetts, I probably would have voted for Scott Brown in January's special election. It would have been a vote for his future in a party that desperately needs a moderate, charismatic, experienced, and likable leader. I don't know why the teabagger faction is so insistent about wanting the most unappealing candidates to run their party (Palin, Beck, and Rush?).

In The New York Times article, one star-struck lady was quoted as saying that she wanted a President Mitt Romney and Vice President Scott Brown with the condition that they select Sarah Palin as Secretary of State. Oh my God, what a ditz! Seriously! And her reasoning was that those three would be so good looking that no one else could touch them! Oh, yeah...that's the ticket. A shallow vote because you like looking at them, never mind that it doesn't make logical sense. In fact, this lady's comment only revealled how ignorant she was. Its forbidden by the U.S. Constitution to have a President and Vice President from the same state, so a Romney-Brown ticket would be out (unless Romney decided to move to Michigan and make that his new residence). And Sarah Palin as Secretary of State?!? Is she fucking serious? We would be the laughing stock of the entire world. Foreign leaders would likely play pranks on her because she's so ignorant about the world. There is no way she would pass a Senate hearing, anyway, to be approved for such a lofty position. That's the mindset of a teabagger for you. Dumb as a rock.

In another article I read, George Lakoff explained why Democrats lose at the messaging game in public sphere. Republicans are masterful at propaganda because they know how to appeal to a person's "lizard brain" (the part of the brain that responds to emotions like fear). The Democrats argue from a point of logic and facts, ignoring the role emotions play in why a person behaves a certain way or supports a certain policy, even if such policy is actually harmful to the person. Its a losing battle. We've see this entirely too much during the Bush era, when war against Iraq was pushed without the kind of debate that Clinton's war in Kosovo received in public. Bush and his administration officials pounded home the same message: "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud!" America had to ACT NOW!!!, like those late-night ads on TV for shitty products. Scaring the American public with the spectre of nuclear war worked during the Cold War era, and it worked again in the Bush years. No amount of logical arguments and facts could sway a fearful populace.

The real meat of the article, though, is that Lakoff claims what I have suspected since the Clinton years. Republicans and conservatives care more about the conservative agenda than they do about America. That's the reason why they are obstructing President Obama's agenda, even when Obama is using ideas proposed by Republican politicians (tax cuts! tort reform! more money to troops!). The Republicans cannot afford to see a successful Obama presidency, especially in light of the disaster that was Bush. For President Bush to be book-ended by two successful Democratic presidencies might be the end of their party's electoral success. So, they will do anything in their power to bring down the Democratic president. Clinton's sex problem only helped their cause, but so far, Obama doesn't seem to have any Achilles heel for them to exploit (thus their ongoing obsession with the phony Kenyan birth certificate). Had John Edwards become our president, his sex scandal would have killed his administration at the start, as Republicans and the media would have no qualms repeating their moral outrage of 1998. Because of the higher standard Democrats are held to on moral grounds, I am one Democrat who believes that any Democratic politician who wants to be president better behave, because that's one ammunition they don't need to give to the party of hypocrites.

Honestly, I wish the cultural wars would end. I'm tired of hearing the phony moral outrage by hypocrites who look the other way when members of their party indulges in some bad behaviour. People are supposed to keep their own party members in line. Democrats tend to be better at that than Republicans. John Edwards has zero chance of getting elected to any future office (thought he might have a better chance if he runs as a Republican since they love their adulterous politicians!). Will John Ensign of Nevada ever be elected out of office for wrecking the marriage of his political aide?

I'm surprised that the honeymoon is now over between the teabaggers and Senator Scott Brown. Don't they realize that he represents the citizens of Massachusetts, first and foremost? Teabaggers are mostly conservative Red-staters from the South and Midwest, so what right do they have to impose their views and will on the enlightened people of Massachusetts? When I visited Massachusetts in 2002, the liberalism was obvious in the people I talked to and in the prevalence of Unitarian-Universalist churches everywhere you looked. Senator Brown is no dummy. If he wants to be the next president of the United States, he has to win reelection in liberal Massachusetts in 2012.

More important than that, though...isn't it high time that the Republican party nominate a moderate politician who has broad appeal to the majority of the country? As a political enthusiast with liberal Democratic views, I admit that Senator Scott Brown has the right mix of qualities to be an inspiring, effective, and respectable president someday. I hope he plays his cards right and continues to vote on principle, rather than party. As yesterday's post predicts, in 2016, we have the potential to have a Titanic election between two telegenic men with interesting biographies and leadership experience. Wouldn't it be nice, for once, for people to say they are having trouble deciding on voting for the greater of two goods (rather than the lesser of two evils)? With Scott Brown's vote for the Jobs Bill, he officially becomes my favourite Republican politician, replacing Senator John McCain, who held that distinction since 1996. It is my hope that Brown will continue to show his true leadership ability by supporting initiatives that improve America (rather than the fortunes of his party). I probably won't agree on every issue, but that's the thing with likable people with a moral core. You don't have to always agree to get along or support someone. Just be reasonable, rational, and ignore the ideology of the extremists. The Republican Party has a choice...support Brown if you hope to win the White House again, or support someone like Palin, who will lead the party to further ruin. The choice is yours: rationality or insanity. You can't have both.

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