Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Political befuddlement

Politics seldom fails to befuddle me. For instance, I was one of those people who in 2004 was convinced that George W. Bush would be unseated. Even after the Democratic nominee showed up in uniform with a snappy salute, I shook it off. Of course Bush would lose. How could he not?

Okaaay ...

But this week, reading so much about the passage of health care reform - Obamacare in GOP speak - my befuddlement knows no bounds.

WHAT has happened to the Republican Party?

As a little boy - kids are great fans of a sitting president, no matter who they are - I LIKED Ike. And as I grew older, I respected the serious Republicans who may have had conservative values, but who also were deeply committed to responsible government. Then along came Barry Goldwater's extremism, quickly followed by the GOP's "southern strategy" to wrest the South from historically shameful Democratic control via equally shameful sops to the radical religious right, a few nudge-nudges to racists, and scorn of Eastern "elites." (So much worse, say, than Enron "elites," or those latter-day "elites" that brought us the recent economic unpleasantness.)

But, sadly fallen as the GOP may be, I could never have imagined their foot-shooting attack on health-care reform. Even now, Republicans are predicting great strides in coming elections based upon a "repeal health care" campaign. Wha?

I fear that the GOP - the second party so necessary to American politics - has dumbed itself down into a scary and bad-for-the-country rejection of reality. I'm not just talking about "birthers," or the senders of racist emails, or the "tea party" goofuses angry about what? - tax cuts? - but the whole, unanimous Republican establishment that thinks attacking health reform is some kind of winning strategy. Their fiscal arguments, coming after so many years of outrageous Republican presidential and congressional spending, are palpably hypocritical.

It's as though planet Goldwater, circled by moon Reagan, was destroyed by comet Bush, and all the people said: "Yes! Now we're getting there!"

I've been wrong before. (A whole bunch of times!) But I can't help but think that when voters go the polls in November, a great many will think: "Republicans - oh yes, they're the people who don't want me to have health care."

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