Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tears, Fears and Smears; The GOP Story

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalised and cruelly mocked, but it cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
Morton Kondrake

I have never been a big soap opera fan but it’s hard not to get drawn into the almost daily drama unfolding in the ranks of the highest profile members of the Grand Old Party. They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I would argue that this already transpired during the Bush era. The price they paid was losing Congress, the Senate, the majority of Governorships and the Presidency. So having paid a heavy price for their wanderings in the Bush years, one would think the Republicans would be regrouping, and coalescing far away from the public eye trying to formulate a new strategy for 2012 – so what is going on with the endless trials and tribulations of their leading cast members?

Let’s start by taking a look at their brightest star from 2008, Sarah Palin. In the last few months, Ms. Palin has most definitely been in the forefront of the news. She has been firing missives back at her critics with alarming regularity but sadly none have anything remotely to do with the challenges facing the nation or with matters concerning public policy. And they have not been debated in the pages of The New York Times or The National Review but played out in People Magazine and the National Enquirer. The Palin and Levi family feud started with the very public breakup of her 17 year old daughter and Johnston Levi, the father of her child. Then, instead of learning her lesson Ms. Palin continued on to another public spat with David Letterman, a late night comedy show host. Granted Mr. Letterman’s comments were in poor taste but, even after he apologized the Governor of Alaska continued to drag herself into the mud and humor him. Not funny. As for becoming Queen of the White House in 2012, I am not so sure she has won any confidence from her few supporters leave alone her many detractors, but 2009 Queen of the Tabloids – Ms. Palin wins hands down.

Then there’s the crying Governor from South Carolina, another promising GOP Presidential candidate for 2012. Mark Sanford says he is an honest, God-fearing, bottom-line kind of guy. He also happens to be the guy who has been cheating on his wife for the past year and lied to his aides and staff, almost creating a crisis of leadership in his state with his five day disappearance. He actually said, “What I did was wrong, period. I spent the last five days crying in Argentina.” Perhaps it would have been more fitting if, instead of shedding tears while coming clean, he had sung a farewell tribute to all of his constituents:
“Don’t cry for me South Carolina. The truth is I never left you,
All through my wild hikes, and my mad disappearance;
I kept my promise, but had to keep my distance…”

I really hope for his sake that the road to the White House is paved with good intentions. But then again this is America and maybe all he needed to say was: “I did have sexual relations with that woman.”

Up next, the great brown hope of the GOP, Piyush Jindal or Bobby as we now know him. The man Rush Limbaugh has touted as ‘the next Ronald Reagan’. The Republican Party proudly advertises him as the first Indian-American Governor and hopes he will begin to attract a less white crowd to its base, even as he publicly decries his brown roots. Identity crisis aside, I must admit that I liked what I heard from him last year before he came out, in a manner of speaking, as a Republican up-and-comer. He sounded like a balanced and pragmatic man, even if he is socially conservative. However, in his first real test of leadership in the national eye, as the opposition’s rebuttal to Obama’s first address to Congress, his performance left a lot to be desired. It was not just awkward, but made Sarah Palin’s performance with Katie Couric look masterful in comparison. However, the bigger issue I had was with what he said. He had lost all the things that I liked about his perspective and viewpoint and sounded like a tired, superficial, contrived and insincere old Republican lapdog.

Finally, let’s talk about Eric Cantor, the Minority Whip, who is being touted as one of their next generation of leaders. Forget that this man was front and center supporting Cheney’s claims on Sunday news shows in the lead up to the Iraq invasion. He said of Iraq and Al Qaeda that, “really they're one and the same.” The issue I have with this man dates back to September, 2008 when the Bush-Paulson $700billion financial bailout package failed in the House because the majority of Republicans voted against it. Instead of simply accepting responsibility for the failure to garner the required votes within his party, as the Minority Whip, he blamed Nancy Pelosi and the speech she made a few minutes before the votes were cast. He said: "There is a reason that this vote failed - and that is Speaker Pelosi's speech.” Suggesting that he had the votes needed, but a dozen grown men from his party all changed their minds after hearing pathetic Pelosi's words. Leaders are made of sterner stuff in my book, and real men accept responsibility and move forward. Erik Cantor is clearly neither; and if he is the GOP’s idea of a new leadership, then God help them.

The sad truth is that the only loud voices you really hear from within the Republican Party today are from their players from yester-year, the ones like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney who just refuse to go away and continue their reckless fear mongering. They have nothing worthwhile to say and no new perspective to add to the national debate, other than offering the same old tired rhetoric of Obama’s drive toward Socialism. Frankly, the only breath of fresh air is the man who had to publicly apologise to Rush Limbaugh; the Chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele. While by no means an intellectual heavy-weight, he has at least been trying to inject some flavor and freshness to the party’s tired old white image, and has succeeded only in becoming a laughing stock within his own party’s base faster than Karl Rove can creep out Meghan McCain on Twitter. Sadly, I have no clue what the Republican Party stands for today. They are allowing themselves to be defined by the Democrats, who clearly have a spring in their step and bounce in their stride, thanks to Mr. Obama. Meanwhile, the Republicans seem only to have a tremble in their voice and a limp in their walk, thanks to Mr. Bush.

At this rate, a Limbaugh/Cheney ticket might turn out to be their only in option 2012, or then again maybe the Republicans have it right after all - to just sit back and continue doing what they are not doing and wait for the Democrats to screw it all up and hand it back on a platter; just like the Republicans did before them…

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