Sunday, March 31, 2013

Making One Thing Very Clear

I ran across an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal last Thursday written by Liz Cheney, the former Vice President’s daughter. It is a sort of manifesto extolling the views of the right-wing of the Republican party, refuting the arguments of its more moderate members that the party’s extreme positions are what are keeping it from winning and that it needs to move to the center.

The thesis of her argument is that “(T)hose who counsel that the GOP should move left are wrongheaded or Democrats, or both," showing a fairly liberal open-mindedness to the possibility that someone who is not Democratic could be wrongheaded! She is responding in particular to those who might be suggesting that the cuts caused by the sequestering provisions are harmful, and that therefore Republicans should be more willing to negotiate with the President. 
If I were someone sympathetic to Republicans’ desire to regain the White House and assessing her editorial critically, I would say that her argument is based more on a claim that right-wing Republicans’ views are correct and their opponents are wrong, rather than the the possibility that her views will be endorsed by a majority of voters; however, it's really more about just attacking President Obama and declaring opposition to him in all things to be the test of one's patriotism.

She suggests that “the Obama White House and its allies are engaged in the kind of sky-is-falling melodrama normally reserved for the lives of teenage girls.” All right—like Ms. Cheney, I have a teenage girl, so I know what she is talking about, and I recognize exactly that pattern of argument in some of Cheney’s exaggerated claims about President Obama:  He is "the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office." She adds that "The president has so effectively diminished American strength abroad that there is no longer a question of whether this was his intent."  She states that we tell the North Koreans who threaten us, and the Islamist radicals in Benghazi, that "you can attack us with impunity."

She charges that we have allowed al-Qaeda to become resurgent, and that "If we don't defend our freedoms now against the onslaught of President Obama's policies, we won't have to wait until our sunset years for American freedom to be a distant memory."  In this last point, she refers to a quote from St. Ronald Reagan from 1961 (when he was still a Democrat!) that "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction..." and if we don't defend it and teach that "then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."

See what I mean about the sky falling? Of course, all those claims are wrong, starting with the “occupy” charge (probably made as an incitement to anger for the WSJ readers who were outraged and scared by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which Obama did not endorse nor condemn): I would say that the most radical “occupants” have all been radical conservatives, with the Administration headed by her father and the figurehead President George W. Bush the most radical in recent decades (Calvin Coolidge’s perhaps being the most radical all-time). The reference to “occupy the Oval Office”, with its suggestion of usurpation and improperly gaining the Presidency rather than “being elected and serving in” it seems particularly suited to the Bush-Cheney Administration. Beyond that, North Korea’s threats to the U.S. are pretty laughable (our threats against them much less so), and al-Qaeda has been pulverized; though a few grains remain, their ability to strike against the US and other developed countries has been seriously degraded.  As for Reagan's quote, I would say that the main thing that has changed since 1961 is that a lot more men--and women--are now experiencing what it is like to be free, and that--contrary to Cheney's suggestions--our freedoms are not now seriously endangered by such things as having either to purchase healthcare insurance or to pay a fine, or to submit to a screen to see if you are a lunatic or criminal before buying a gun, or if our national defense spending falls below that of all the rest of the countries of the world combined.

She claims that “you can be sure that President Obama would welcome an America in which the Republican Party is preoccupied with remaking itself into a watered-down version of the Democrats." Presumably, she is referring to a desire Obama might have that some of the Republicans be willing to negotiate legislation in the nation’s interest instead of blocking anything that might definitively avoid the slow-motion trainwreck still in progress. I’d guess that desire exists, though I have never heard Obama attempt to advise the Republican party how to conduct its internal affairs.

As for me, though, I wish Liz all the success possible in maintaining total control of the party for the extreme right-wing. The GOP is much more a threat when it has some claim to moderate voters than when it doesn’t (as is generally the case now), even if that appeal is illusory (with the right controlling policy positions but masking their intent somewhat to gull “low-information voters”).

Some would argue that the country is better off with two strong national parties; at this point in time, I would disagree. I’m hoping for the Republicans to solidify their base with the mid-thirty percent nationally that genuinely understand and agree with their positions, with the rest also understanding Republican positions but voting their interest with the Democrats as the only sane choice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.