Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My two cents

Yesterday on Talk of Nation, Neal Conan asked, "Where does the Republican party go from here?" The guests were Michael Gerson, ex-Bush speechwriter and current op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, Rick Santorum, who so famously had some human excretion named after him by gonzo sex-advice columnist Dan Savage (Santorum, the "frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex") and Tom Davis, whom I don't know a thing about except that according to what I read on Wikipedia he was probably considered the moderate of this panel.

They were going on and on about getting back to "conservative values" and puttin forth policies to match instead of fighting the culture wars with issues like abortion, and blaming Bush for being so unpopular that they were bound to be caught up in his sinking, stinking dragnet, blah, blah, blah.

I missed the first 10 or 15 mintues, but during the rest of the show NOBODY mentioned their complete abandonment of the concept of the "fair fight;" their Malcolm X-style politics of winning by any means necessary, using fear and smear tactics, voter disenfranchisement and purging voters from the rolls; their myopic loyalty to the party above all else, shredding many constitutional protections and the thorough politicization of the justice department being the most blatant examples.

I dialed and redialed and redialed only to receive multiple busy signals until the producer finally answered and said in rapidfire, "I'msorrywe'verunoutoftimethankyouforcalling, -- click."

Listening to John McCain's concession speech last week, I perceived a glimmer of the man who earned the nickname "Maverick," a man who, at times, has joined with Democrats to pass laws that were for the good of many instead of the few:

"My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.
A little while ago, I had the honour of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving . . .
I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that."
McCain's words that night reflect a sentiment I stupidly believed would convert all cynics, myself included. I said to my husband, "Maybe now the devil will give him back his soul."

Then last night I watched "Boogey Man: The Lee Atwater Story." Man, was that a powerful Frontline episode! Now I see where Rove got his dastardliness. Apparently he is a forefather of smear and fear politics and a mentor to Turd Blossom. I was too young or not paying attention to know about Atwater, but I do remember the Dukakis character assassination, the Willie Horton ad and the revolving door ad. He had the gall to not only deny manipulating white folks' fears of scarey black guys but also denied being behind the ads at all. Except that one of his friends and allies told Frontline that Atwater himself showed him an advance of the tape.

There is some question as to whether Atwater was sincere when he repented
at the end of his life those mean-spirited and divisive acts when he developed a brain tumor that would eventually kill him. One guy said he began reading the Bible, and that one passage particularly haunted him suggested that the attainment of power through less than scupulous means was an empty achievement and comes at a high cost. Atwater wrote that, in the end, relationships, not power, are what's important. Apparently he sent letters of apology to anyone whom he thought he'd hurt, even Willie Horton. But another guy, in helping to clean out his stuff after his death, found Atwater's Bible still wrapped in the plastic it came in. He accused Atwater of spinning to the end.

Now that we can see light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel, assessing the legacy of such scorched earth tactics is important for Republicans if they are to move forward in the spirit of cooperation, reparation and renewal of our planet, our politics and our policies. With a few exceptions (Retired OK Congressman Mickey Edwards, who wrote in the Huffington Post earlier this year, "
Republicans in the House and Senate (have) repeatedly humiliated themselves in their willingness to toss aside the most important elements of American constitutional government"), I don't hear many of them doing that. It doesn't seem like they have learned a thing.

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