First, create a diversion, then do nothing
This editorial is not about Janet Jackson or her ‘wardrobe malfunction.’ It’s about another form of aberrant behavior. It’s about Republicans unable to deal with reality.
Let’s start with the president. George W. Bush is taking after his father. When the elder Bush was president, he ignored the middle and lower classes and all their problems. He didn’t finish his war in Iraq and, in an effort to avoid further carnage to innocent people, he let Saddam Hussein off the hook, free to continue his savagery. The elder Bush, a good man but a privileged Brahmin, never grasped that everyone was worried about a stalemated economy. Bill Clinton understood that, hammered the point home in the presidential campaign of 1992, and was elected president. Never mind that he, too, blew it later in an act of staggering stupidity.
Now we have another stagnant economy. There is no vision in the second Bush Administration, no job creation, no economic stimulus, except tax cuts for the wealthy and more contracts for big GOP-friendly companies Halliburton. This has led so far to an unprecedented, incomprehensible national debt. (Apparently, W has never had to balance a checkbook.) Jobs are going overseas in breathtaking fashion. American goods are being undersold, even at America’s store, Wal-Mart! China is becoming an economic superpower, with our eager help. Elderly people wonder how they can pay for the high cost of prescription drugs. Our war with Iraq drags on. American soldiers are being killed faster in Iraq (remember, the war is over!) than Israelis and Palestinians can kill each other in Israel and the West Bank. (Another triumph of American diplomacy.)
So what does our president propose to do all about this? Send a man to Mars! And he also worries about professional athletes using steroids.
The Bush Administration has come up with another diversion. Let’s look for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan! Maybe call in the B-52s for another mountain bombing campaign. It makes for great television. Almost as good as the nightly, prime-time bombing of Baghdad. Remember?
It’s an old Republican strategy: When things get really difficult for the masses, create a distraction, a diversion, concentrate on something really stupid that will get people upset. Let’s look for ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ And let’s spend $1.5 billion to promote marriage! And don’t forget homeland security.
It used to be that Republicans called someone a communist (remember Richard Nixon), or wrapped themselves in the American Flag (Ronald Reagan), or questioned the opposition’s patriotism, or talked about family values (Dan Quayle), or made abortion the No. 1 issue, or went after that most vulnerable of targets: homosexuals.
You can see the same strategy, the same pattern, at the state level. When Democrats try to come up with ways to balance the budget or get full-day kindergarten started, things that are really important for the future of our state, the Republicans say, yes, they’re all for it, but they (in contrast to Congress) won’t spend any money. They say the Democrats’ plans are faulty, but they never offer a plan of their own. Their mantra is always, ‘Yes, but,’ or simply, ‘No.’
Instead, Republicans eagerly rally around things like adopting a constitutional amendment endorsing marriage between a man and a woman. What a brilliant idea. Why didn’t we think of that before? Now there is a serious problem that requires the full attention of all members of the Indiana General Assembly. Thank goodness the legislators are taking their precious time and spending our hard-earned tax money on such an important issue. Next year, I hope they will look at the need for another constitutional amendment on another crucial issue: Say, loving your mother. Or maybe a constitutional amendment requiring everyone to observe Thanksgiving.
Locally, you see the same strategy. Everyone in Harrison County knows we need to do something about animal control, but the Republican-dominated county council just doesn’t think we can spend $400,000 for a good facility that will last for years. No, no, it has to be $300,000, and not a penny more. Otherwise we can’t have animal control. People who have unwanted animals dumped on their farms and residences have reached the screaming point, but the council just can’t act on this issue. The answer is no. No, no, no. We hear it all the time.
The council cannot understand that the Harrison County Hospital has also reached a critical point, where plans must be made for a new facility. No, the council says, plans are not good enough, or they ‘don’t have enough information.’ No, assurances of future funding must be guaranteed first. No, a study group must be formed. No, consultants must be called in.
No, the people who know the most about the subject can’t possibly know what they need. No, maybe two task forces would be good. No, this all takes time.
In other words, the best plan is no plan. Do nothing.
No, Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney, the wizards behind the GOP screen, could not come up with a better strategy.