BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Barack Obama was swept into the presidency on the audacious platform of change, including change from the old partisanship of Washington and the gridlock in Congress in particular. Strangely enough, in this same election the Republican candidate was nominated under a party banner which read “Country First,” interpreted to mean country over political party.
As much as we love his audacity and his optimism, most of us could have told Obama that his notion of bi-partisanship for the good of the country was idealistic and impractical. No matter how the Republican banner read, we knew to expect partisanship from them down to the bitter end.
Anything else would have indeed been surprising.
Most of us know that Republicans put party over everything. Of course, they think Republican, God, and country are all one triumvirate, something like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, Republicans do not recognize that there is any difference in the best interests of their party and the country – or God.
Nobody could fault Obama for not trying hard to involve Republicans in early talks on the stimulus package to address an inherited, deepening crisis, giving them opportunity for input behind the scenes and making concessions to their views.
Yet Republicans twice voted unanimously against the package in the House, and only three brave members of their party crossed the line in the Senate.
The Republican Party practices fear and intimidation with their party members. They maintain a fearsome discipline of threats against any who would stray.
Witness their threats against an old party stalwart, Sen. Arlen Specter, and the moderate women senators from Maine. Rush Limbaugh has been spewing venom against party heretics, and is joined by Fox News and Murdock’s Wall Street rag as public enforcers of party discipline.
It did not take the party long to pull New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg back into line. It was terribly presumptive of him to think he could depart from the party line and support Obama administration’s agenda as a loyal cabinet member should expect to do.
It was overly optimistic of Obama to think that a Republican like Gregg could change his stripes so readily, or that his party would permit it.
The viciousness of the Republican attacks on Obama and his initiatives to save the economy is startling to many observers and repugnant to most.
Economics Nobel laureate Paul Krugman writes:
“And the rhetorical response of conservatives to the stimulus plan – which will, it is worth bearing in mind, cost substantially less than either the Bush Administration’s $2 trillion in tax cuts or the $1 trillion and counting being spent in Iraq – has bordered on the deranged.”
Krugman says that the Republican Party’s “commitment to deep voodoo,” enforced by threats against heretics, is as strong as ever. He wonders why Republicans rally behind tax cuts as a remedy in view of the “abject failure of the Bush tax cuts.”
Krugman pronounces the stimulus plan as “helpful but inadequate,” thinking more spending and fewer tax cuts would be better. Most economists agree.
Oklahoma’s Republican delegation fought tooth and toenail against the middle/lower class tax cut and spending bill that emerged. Now it appears that Oklahoma will receive $2.6 billion in stimulus funds. Let us now watch the Republicans in the Legislature go all out to try and seize control of those monies from our Democratic governor.
Oklahoma is in a terrible fiscal mess due to Republican tax cuts of recent years, with little cause attributable to national economic problems. But our Republican Legislature will gleefully seize upon any opportunity to spend the federal money, viciously opposed by their party’s representatives, for favored projects that the state cannot otherwise afford because of their own tax cutting.
There is something about this kind of politics that smells.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer