Over the Edge (3/26/10)

Here is where I shall vent my spleen on whatever political topic might cross my mind on a given day. Comments or responses may be posted to whatever forum might be appropriate to that particular topic.

Over the Edge (3/26/10)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:03 pm

I'm just full of Monty Python references lately (despite having not watched one of their Flying Circus episodes or movies for an unusually long time now, an oversight I intend to correct shortly). Today I am reminded of a sketch they did early in the run of their television show about an election for the British House of Commons, where the various seats were contested between candidates of the "Sensible Party" and the "Silly Party," complete with breathlessly excited television commentators more interested in the "process" and in keeping score than with the actual fitness for office of the various candidates.

One cannot help but recall this sketch when considering the events that have occurred in the wake of the passage of the very moderate, mild, and almost excessively centrist (if not slightly rightward-leaning) piece of health insurance "reform" that we signed into law this pass week. The only problem with the metaphor is that the "Sensible vs. Silly" dichotomy was relatively benign, but there is something particularly malignant and frighteningly vicious and violent about the Republican reaction to passage of this badly needed law. This is not Sensible vs. Silly. This is Sane vs. Insane.

I am not certain that we've seen anything quite like this recently, although reaction to the passage of civil rights legislation in the '60s was certainly more excessive, and of course the events leading to the end of slavery caused even greater consternation. But those were truly major and significant societal reforms that had a deep and abiding effect on our culture and our economy. This, on the other hand, is really nothing more than a minor tweaking of health insurance regulation, albeit overblown in its scope by the rhetoric of both sides in the debate.

Yesterday the Republicans hit a new low in not just insanity but in their efforts to spread the infection of insanity and violence more widely. The House Republican Whip, Eric Cantor (who makes me embarrassed to be a Virginian), made a little speech yesterday that gives a whole new meaning to the notion of "chutzpah." In a truly "Through the Looking Glass" moment, he actually had the nerve to try to blame the DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP for "fanning the flames of violence" by, in his words, "taking political advantage" of the violent attacks on Democratic offices nationwide in the aftermath of the passage of health insurance reform. He also made the wholly unsupported claim that his own office was attacked, with gunfire taking out one of his windows. (Please note that I give this report precisely zero credence -- it just plain didn't happen. Cantor is, in a word, lying. The WINNERS never engage such temperamental act.)

Of course, what Cantor is trying to do is to "get ahead" of the political damage that the Republicans so richly deserve for whipping up the TEA Party loonies. He is trying to tar with the epithet "political exploitation" any criticism by Democrats of the Republicans for having created this violent and racist movement. He's trying to prevent us from campaigning against it, or even criticizing it.

But what could possibly be a more appropriate political movement, and more appropriate brownshirt tactics, to criticize and to campaign against than what we've been seeing over the past week or so. Calling John Lewis a "N....r;" Calling Barney Frank a "F....t;" Spitting in the face of Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver; throwing a brick through the window of the Chair of the House Rules Committee, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter; death threats against various Democratic congressmen including Anthony Wiener; cutting a gas line to the propane grill of Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello; threats of lynching against South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, etc., etc., etc, ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

And Eric Cantor blames US for fanning these flames? Was it Democrats out on the Capitol balcony egging on the TEA Party protesters? Was it Democrats who described this bill as (alternatively) Naziism or Communism? Was it a Democrat who raised the specter of Armageddon during a speech on the House floor?

No, these were not Democrats. These were not even the slavering, rabid-dog TEA Partiers. In fact, these were not even rank-and-file Republicans. Indeed, they weren't even Republican back-benchers. These were members of the House and Senate Republican leadership, the highest ranking Republican officials in the land, John Boehner, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, etc., etc., etc. It would be difficult to conceive of a way they could more clearly demonstrate how unfit they are for the offices they presently hold, or any other office of public trust they might seek.

If we do not take FULL political advantage of the damage to the body politic that the Republicans have wrought over this issue then we are doing the people of the United States a grave disservice, and we risk finding ourselves in a position where we can no longer limit that damage. Eric Cantor is like a very clever, smart-alecky, scheming little fourteen year old. Unfortunately, the people to whom he is trying to appeal have about the same reasoning power and emotional stability as five-to-fourteen year-olds, and they constitute a fairly large percentage of the American electorate.

We have got to watch out for Eric Cantor. He has the looks of a Kennedy and the cleverness of the mean, vicious and sneaky little weasel he is. He also has a good feel how to "validate" the twisted thoughts of the ignorant and violent supporters that the Republican Party has attracted in recent years, and he has an ability to effectively inflame their passions while maintaining a false facade of reason and calm while doing it. This guy is a danger. We ought to throw every thing we have against him in November and try to get him out of Congress now before he does more damage.

The district he represents is a lovely area between Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville where the people are fairly well off and well educated. It is largely pastoral, consisting of farmland and wineries dotted by beautiful and historic old towns like Culpeper. These people are stable, peace-loving, and many of them are probably offended and embarrassed by the antics of this overly ambitious and publicity-craving guy who they mistakenly elected to represent them. If we strongly target Eric Cantor we might be able to beat him in November, and I urge with all my might that we do so. He's a potential problem down the road, and he could seriously contend for the Republican nomination in 2012 if his success is allowed to continue unabated.
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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Ferguson Foont
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