Tuesday, March 8, 2011

G.O.P. is the party of G.O.D. Be Afraid

    Republican Congressman Peter King is getting a lot of flack for his plan to lead a congressional investigation into the “radicalization of Islam in the United States.” He might get less static if he thought about investigating the radicalization of the Republican Party. Their fundamentalist supporters are forcing them so far to the right that they’re starting to go medieval on us. Call it the New Feudalism. It’s a bigger threat than Sharia law because Republican religious extremism actually has a shot at becoming law.

    At a conservative confab in Iowa this week, five GOP presidential hopefuls fell over each other trying to violate Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution, which says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the United States.” Their speeches glutted with evangelical dog whistles about abortion funding and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Republican candidates (Gingrich, Pawlenty, Santorum, Roemer, Cain) are all determined to out-Christian each other.

    Their logic is that morality should guide our values, and morality naturally comes from the Bible and nowhere else. The message is clear: It’s not about what they want or what the government wants. It’s about what God wants. Oh…and here’s what God wants. You see, they all know where God stands on the issues—including issues you wouldn’t think are in God’s job description. The national debt is a moral issue. So is union-busting. So is corporate deregulation, which is what they mean when they use the word “freedom,” which they use a lot. (And here you thought freedom was about personal stuff like women controlling their bodies or gay people choosing a spouse without Congress weighing in.)  

    Last fall, the Republicans were willing to derail every issue before the country—even a nuclear arms treaty with Russia—until they extended tax cuts for millionaires. Then they started to talk about “sharing the pain” of budget cuts. In Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Washington, a budget crisis that demands sacrifices from poor mothers and working people always seems to come after a corporate tax cut. That’s morality for you. “Render unto the Koch Brothers that which is the Koch Brothers’.”

    Then there are the glowingly moral attitudes of the Tea Party: Obama is a Muslim (polls say half the GOP believes this). Mike Huckabee repeated the lie that Obama grew up in Kenya, and noted that the president wasn’t raised joining the Boy Scouts or playing baseball. (Of course, all that means is that he didn’t grow up white. You ever see him on a basketball court?) Michelle Bachmann calls his administration “gangsters” but doesn’t specify what laws they’re breaking. And Sarah Palin recently claimed…oh, who cares? Irrelevant is not just a big, gray animal anymore.

    The fact that today’s national Republicans make Ronald Reagan look like a liberal, Nixon a radical, and Eisenhower a communist, says something about the party’s moral center these days. They want to be the party of God; the party of moral values. Yet when Democrats get caught with their wicks in the honey, they lose their jobs. (Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson come to mind.) But when John Ensign screwed a staffer, David Vitter patronized a D.C. madam, Larry Craig treated an airport bathroom like a singles bar, and Mark Sanford had a fling in Argentina, they all kept their jobs. John Edwards is in the wilderness of political slime bags for cheating on his wife while she had cancer. Yet Newt Gingrich cheated on his first wife while she had cancer, and cheated on his second wife while impeaching Bill Clinton over Monika Lewinsky, and he’s now running for president on a family values platform! Congress needs to investigate all this.

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