Monday, October 16, 2006

a quick word on words

I keep hearing that this election season will be a bad one for Republicans, and that bad things keep happening to Republicans that prevent them from getting their message out. This seems a little backwards to me. Bad things aren’t happening to Republicans—they are happening because of Republicans. The political climate is isn’t bad for Republicans; it is bad because of what they have done.

Reading the predicted realignment—the political “Tsunami” (as many are calling it, though I really thought we weren’t going to use that word anymore)—is not like plate tectonics or meteorology. Events are not part and parcel of some inexorable force or cosmic pattern given to analysis citing chaos theory and the phases of the moon. If voters choose Democrats over Republicans this November (and I would still counsel lowered expectations), it will be because of issues and events that have shaped voters’ opinions. The fiasco in Iraq, the Medicare drug debacle, and the Abramoff and Foley-Hastert scandals aren’t accidents of history, they are disasters of choice.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Iraq didn’t happen to Republicans, it happened because of Republicans.
  • Medicare part D didn’t happen to Republicans, it happened because of Republicans.
  • Jack Abramoff didn’t happen to Republicans, Jack Abramoff is a Republican, and his Republican friends traded political favors for cash and gifts.
  • Mark Foley didn’t happen to Republicans, Mark Foley is a Republican, and Dennis Hastert, Tom Reynolds, John Boehner, John Shimkus, Jim Kolbe, Rodney Alexander, and Karl Rove—all men who knew about Representative Foley’s actions months or years ago—are all Republicans, too (in fact, they actively conspired to hide Foley’s problems from Democrats and the general public).
  • Torture at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo Bay, and at secret prisons around the world didn’t happen to Republicans, it was approved and orchestrated by Republicans.
  • The failure to respond quickly and appropriately to Hurricane Katrina, and the failure since to rebuild New Orleans and care for the displaced didn’t happen to Republicans, it happened because Republicans were and are in charge.
  • Parts of Afghanistan are slipping back into Taliban hands because Republicans were hot to leave that battle unfinished in order to invade Iraq.
  • The deficit is growing because of Republicans, so is the gap between rich and poor.

And that’s just top of mind. . . .

I fully expect that analysis will continue to exist in the abstract, as will post-mortems after November 7—it would be good to remind the analysts that the Republicans, and those that have to live with what Republicans have done, live very much in the concrete.


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