Several months ago Ted Rall wrote Why We Hate Bush”, citing the stolen election of 2000 as the main reason for the Democrats’ visceral loathing of George W. Bush. Rall and the pundits are right: we are angry and we vehemently detest Bush. In fact, we despise not only him but also the vast legions of right-wing Republicans, and it is not just about the stolen election. If there is one thing more repellent than their electioneering chicanery, it is their rank hypocrisy.
For starters, take their claim to “small government” and “fiscal responsibility”. For years, we endured the right wing’s attacks on “big government” and their pillorying of the Democratic Party as the “tax and spend” party. But since 1980 the presidents who have enlarged government the most have in fact been Ronald Reagan and Dubya, both amassing record deficits and piling up the national debt. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have almost single-handedly turned Bill Clinton’s $260 billion surplus into a $500 billion deficit — and yet they have the nerve to vilify liberals for “spending”. Look who is spending now, and shamelessly so. Obviously these self-serving spendthrifts, too, love “big government” but just prefer to support their habit through debt rather than taxation. We are sick of seeing Republicans pour scorn on “tax and spend” while they smugly “borrow and spend”. Likewise, we are tired of the gripes from Republican seniors who assail “big government” on one hand but insist on the other that they are “entitled” to Medicare and Social Security.
Speaking of entitlements, we are outraged that the right-wing Republicans would dress themselves in the robes of “compassionate conservatism” and preach the gospel of “personal responsibility” in denouncing welfare programs, but shamelessly dole out handouts to giant corporations. Case in point: the $15 billion bailout for airlines. This Republican-backed aid package helped under-performing executives keep their jobs and six-figure salaries while allowing more than 100,000 rank-and-file employees to be sacked. Bush campaigned for office promising prosperity with purpose. What noble purpose, indeed, and what enviable prosperity — for those at the top. Apparently, millionaire executives who make bad decisions are “compassionately” exempt from “personal responsibility” and qualify instead for government assistance. Is this reflection of “compassion” found in any Bible save that belonging to Bush, the born-again Christian?
Other examples: the sweet war-profiteering deals doled out to Halliburton in Iraq, and the recent Medicare “reform” bill’s bountiful freebies for pharmaceutical companies. This is “corporate welfare”, stupid — a perverted right-wing ethic of lending a helping hand not to the poor but to the favoured rich, and an illustration of their twisted notions of Christian “values” and “compassion”. It is also a grotesque disingenuousness on the part of Republican ideologues who claim to champion “free market enterprise” and make it their life’s work to denigrate government-handholding as about the worst evil since the Plague and FDR. Meanwhile, while Bush and his cronies sanctimoniously lecture the world about the benefits of “free trade”, they thought fit to slap unjustifiable tariffs on imported steel.
Next, take the right-wing Republican pretense at moral rectitude. Remember Monicagate and the relentless sermons condemning adultery and lying? At least Clinton’s philandering with Lewinsky was consensual; most of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gropes were not. Strom Thurmond fathered a child with a servant who was barely of consenting age (she was 16), and for over 70 years lied about the affair. Yet hardly a whisper of moral condemnation has come from the devout “family values” disciples that sought to crucify Clinton just five years ago. So much for right-wing “integrity”.
Speaking of integrity, let us not forget Iraq. For all their posturing against Clintonesque lies, Bush and his officials have nonetheless wilfully and repeatedly lied about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs — and even dished up loads of BS to try to link Hussein with 9/11. The last we checked, lying does not concern only sex and Paula Jones-type lawsuits. Making false claims in public — before the UN no less — to cook up rationalisations to invade a country constitutes deceit all the same. Call us partisan, but spouting falsehoods is especially nauseating when done by self-righteous born-agains.
What better exemplars of hypocrisy are there than those who lock people up without trial, and yet claim to be the protector of American values; those who treat Ken Lay with benevolence and ignore the moral blight that the Enron debacle symbolises, yet establish daily prayers at the Justice Department in the name of Christian virtue? Call us naive, but it must be Lay’s country-club, energy-industry, and friend-of-Cheney credentials that account for Bush & Co’s striking lack of moral indignation. One might be led to think that wanton greed and thievery were now cherished right-wing “values”. It is called fraud, stupid — and Jerry Falwell, Jesse Helms, and Orrin Hatch could at least feign outrage at it. We consider it abhorrent that in the eyes of the Republican right wing, it is less repugnant for the avaricious (and church-going) rich to lie to and rob millions from innocent people, than it is for a Democratic president to lie about a sexual affair. We are aghast that those who tote the Bible and hold up the example of Jesus banishing the moneychangers would shamelessly coddle big business, and promote the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the meek and needy. And their hypocrisy goes beyond economics: We find it hard to respect pro-life hardliners, who defend the “sanctity of human life” and make an ostentatious fuss about protecting unborn embryos but do not come to the aid of full-fledged humans who are wrongly convicted and executed every year.
As though this state of Denmark were not rotten enough, Dick Cheney and his arch-conservative buddy, Justice Antonin Scalia, recently deemed it wholly proper to go vacationing together. Only trouble is the Supreme Court is due to hear the “energy task force” case — yes, the one that features Cheney as a litigant. This is called a conflict of interest, stupid, and it reeks to high heaven. One would expect Scalia, who comes across as a pious Catholic and staunch defender of conservative “values”, and Cheney, who pledged to bring “honour” to the White House, to know a thing or two about ethics. No surprise here that Scalia was one of the five conservative henchmen on the Court who handed victory to Boss Bush in 2000 — which brings us back to the fact that we are utterly disgusted that Bush and his Bible-toting cronies stole that election, and could in good conscience claim to be morally upright.
So, do the pundits now understand why we are so furious?