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Today’s Republicans Are So Not

by Mark Drolette Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004 at 10:04 AM

You can call them right, you can call them wrong, you can even call them Ray; just don’t call them Republicans. The behind-the-scenes folks leading the GOP these days are running an (extremely) awful show unlike any previously presented by a major American political party, no matter what title is on the marquee. For more details, read on.

I guess I’d be pretty happy if I were a real Republican right now (of course, this would involve receiving copious infusions of mind-altering chemicals, a phase of my life I’ve long since completed). Both congressional houses are controlled by the GOP with little chance of that changing on November 2, and also on that day, Republicans have an opportunity to vote for the presidential candidate who best exemplifies their party’s traditional values: John Forbes Kerry.

‘Cause it sure as hell ain’t George W. Bush, who’s as much a Republican as Senator Zell Miller (D/R-Ga.) doesn’t have an anger issue or two (thousand).

It’s bad enough America’s two-party system hasn’t truly represented citizen’s interests since around the last time a fully intact woolly mammoth was found--alive. Even if they weren’t sincere, at least Dems and Republicans used to act respectable once in a while by occasionally passing legislation that actually benefited people, while also addressing traditional party concerns (as well as those, via riders buried deep within such bills, of big-time corporate donors, which some may suggest are the parties’ traditional concerns).

Those times now seem positively quaint (sort of like certain Geneva Conventions provisions, as White House Chief Counsel Alberto Gonzales opined in a January 2002 memo to Bush regarding the “new paradigm” of the “war against terrorism”). The folks in charge of the current GOP have said to hell with appearances, even though they haven’t, but they really have. (No, that is not a line lifted from a Bush speech; for one thing, it is still far too coherent.)

What I mean is this: Practically everything they do is blatantly extreme and done to retain and consolidate power at any cost, and if any of their choices end up somehow appearing Republican-like, it’s purely by accident. If asked, however, the Karl Rove-tutored Bushies will instinctively dart their eyes, swear they do indeed adhere to conservative values (or just swear, period, if it’s Dick Cheney), and then shoot you. (I made that last part up, but should this administration remain in power, it could be painfully prophetic.)

But in the end (which is where we all feel it--and how), no amount of spin can hide the fact that, undoubtedly, they’re unlike any political creatures ever in charge of this country, and always put politics before policy. As long as the GOP’s (extremely) base nematodal neocons and scary scorn-again (and again and again and…) Christians are regularly fed their rotten, red meat, the Rove Raiders bloody well don’t care what their actions look like, what anyone thinks, or worse, how often Bush heinously assaults proper grammar.

These definitely are not your daddy’s Republicans, unless, of course, your daddy was Benito Mussolini.

The GOP is, however, the one-time party of Teddy Roosevelt, who famously said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Were Roosevelt alive today to see the botched extreme makeover of his former political home, he’d probably be exceedingly decrepit-looking, because, for one thing, he’d be an amazing 145 years old! For another (if, of course, he could still even talk and also had enough mental acuity to make bad political puns), he might just mumble: “Sneak Zoloft and be wary of big Dick.”

Then again, he might not.

OK, regarding traditional Republican tenets: What’s happened to the GOP’s old mantra of financial conservatism? It has often been noted Bush spends money like a drunken sailor, but the comparison ends there, since Bush no longer drinks and our analogous seaman, though well-oiled, is nonetheless intent on fulfilling his military obligation to the United States.

What’s the deficit at now, anyway: a mazillion, bagillion dollars? I’m not sure it really matters much, though, considering the GOP continues issuing tax cuts with money that doesn’t even exist. Compared to today’s “tax-cut-and-spend-anyway-they’re-coming-to-take-me-away-ha-ha” Republicans, the alleged high-rollin’ Democrats of yore now appear downright thrifty, and it’s enough to make one yearn for those bygone days of plain, old-fashioned fiscal profligacy.

With a president who claims God speaks to him (if true, Bush must not pay very close attention), it may do well to recall here Republicans actually did respect the First Amendment once. In a 1992 Time magazine essay, Barbara Ehrenreich writes that no less a light among Republicans than “Abe Lincoln, the patriarch of their party, did not, according to his law partner of 22 years, believe in a personal God, and refused to join a church, stating ‘When you show me a church based on the Golden Rule as its only creed, then I will unite with it.’” She also reports that a slightly lesser GOP luminary, a Generally half-lit Ulysses S. Grant, “exhorted his countrymen to ‘Keep the church and state forever separate…’”

But today, with Bush’s Constitution-crunching “Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives” in ten different U.S. agencies and reportedly heading to a planet or two (now we know what that weird “we’re going to Mars” stuff was all about), it wouldn’t surprise me if he had the Oval Office reconfigured into the shape of a cross and rechristened “JC HQ.”

Plenty of Americans who really should know better bizarrely excuse this type of faux-religious assault on our democracy by proclaiming: “Well, after all, America is a Christian nation.” Really? The first person who can show me where the Constitution actually states this gets an interview with Dan Rather; after all, he and CBS have indicated an interest lately in forged documents.

Hey, at least the GOP still believes in states’ rights--right? Well, certainly! Except when it doesn’t. Like if you’re gay and want to get married, or if you’re dying and want some pain relief in your last days by toking on some state-legalized medical marijuana. Apparently, to a modern-day Republican, the most dire threat to America is a queer guy/gal with pancreatic cancer holding a joint in one hand and a marriage license in the other. Thank goodness no homosexual GOP member (yes, Virginia and other states, gay Republicans do exist) will ever contract Lou Gehrig’s disease or wish to wed one day, because then the discussion might turn uncomfortably from all that latent compassion Republicans insist they have to all the overt hypocrisy this type of belief system requires.

How about Republicans’ long-standing maxim of limited government? Uh, sorry; not in Bushland. Washington Post writer James P. Pinkerton reports in February 2004: “The Cato Institute calculates that Bush has presided over the largest increases in discretionary spending since President Lyndon B. Johnson's budgets of the late '60s.” Well, at least it’s not like he threw away more dough than some spendthrift Democratic president, huh?

And so it goes.

All right, I’ve a slight confession to make: John Kerry is not the most GOP-like Democrat in existence. That (temporary) distinction goes to Miller, whom we’ve traded to the Republicans for a politician to be defamed later. (Still, we are grateful, and a thank-you fruit basket, overly ripe with symbolism, is on its way to the other side.)

What are Kerry’s GOP traits, then? Fiscal responsibility, for one thing. That’s right, and, ironically, I’d like to use as an example something Miller hissy-fitted about at the Republican National Crucifixion. Our friend “Lie Like Hell” Zell got his details mixed up a bit, though, so let’s take a look at the facts. (I usually lose a lot of conservative readers right there.)

An obviously rabid Old Zeller foamingly barked out a laundry list of weapons systems that Kerry, as senator, had supposedly voted against time and again. The truth, as reported by Washington Post writers Glenn Kessler and Dan Morgan, is that during President George H. W. Bush’s tenure, Kerry cast a single vote “against an omnibus defense spending bill that would have funded all of these programs [that Miller named]…” Zell in his zeal neglected to mention that Bush I himself had promised during the bill’s debate “to cut defense spending by 30 percent in eight years.” So, in reality, like an olden Republican, Kerry was voting for fiscal restraint, a “nay” for which he is now falsely maligned by the charlatans in control of the very same party whose then-chief executive was calling for such reserve.

Here’s another buzz-phrase today’s GOP likes to trot out as a standard standard of conservatives, and thus, Republicans: personal responsibility. Myself, I’ve always considered this one just flat-out silly, as it implies that all who are not Republicans automatically disdain even minimal behaviors expected of those in current semi-polite American society, like taking baths, engaging in personal hygiene, and faithfully watching Survivor. Still, its falseness notwithstanding, the GOP has claimed it as one of its own for years, so I say, hey, you fake it, you own it.

Let’s see, then: Kerry volunteers for the Vietnam War, is wounded three times, saves a guy’s life under fire, comes back, doggedly works to stop the war and help improve his fellow veterans’ lives, and enters public service where he’s conscientiously and intelligently served America for decades. That seems, oh, I don’t know, at least kinda responsible, I suppose.

Then there’s Bush, who, along with his entire blockheaded administration, has consistently demonstrated a steadfast belief that being responsible never means having to say you’re sorry. (He’s “decisive” and “steadfast,” some say; well, so have been the 1200-plus suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge.)

Even after a few examples, it’s clear: Kerry, while certainly no raving Republican (insert own Zell Miller joke here), undoubtedly embodies more traits typically associated with the GOP (correctly or not) than does Dubya. All it really takes is one, though, ‘cause the complete catalog of concerns of the current craven crew controlling the country clearly clashes with causes commonly considered conservative.

While so many of us are working to wrest our country back from the Bushies, isn’t it also time real Republicans get busy and reclaim their party from the unscrupulous usurpers running it now?

True GOPers: Election Day is your chance to take that crucial first step. Come, join us. After all, you could do far worse than vote for a guy, Kerry, who is leagues more Republican-like than Dubya has ever thought of being; that is, if he and his gang have ever considered it at all.

* I speaketh not of real Christians, for whom I have the utmost respect, as I also do for people of all religions who practice their faiths sincerely and peacefully. No, I refer to the phony, self-righteous, God-told-me-to-kill-a-bunch-of-people-in-His-name ones, and you know who I’m talkin’ about.

Copyright © 2004 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.

(Thanks to for access to some source material.)

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