Monday, January 05, 2004

Insult Opponents in Front of Everybody, Apologize to Jews Only

It was time for some fun at Rep. John Shadegg's expense, based on a column he wrote (well, I suspect a staffer wrote for him) that appeared in the Greater Phoenix Jewish News, available here.

We've got to fight against this "Bush hatred" meme; it's a tactic to avoid answering legitimate criticisms of his policies, like yelling "class warfare." And Howard Dean had better watch all this shooting from the lip stuff; after all, the GOP nominee is so incredibly respected for his verbal precision.

Hypocrisy and Politics

East Valley Tribune, Jan. 4, 2004

People claim to dislike politicians who say one thing but do another. They should save their distaste for politicians who say one thing to mainstream media, but something different when speaking to specific audiences -- politicians like Rep. John Shadegg.

Rep. Shadegg styles himself a fiscal conservative to mainstream voters and a believer in foreign aid for Israel among Jewish voters. He faced a quandary because the $328 billion 2004 omnibus spending bill which passed the U.S. House last month contained both wasteful spending and Israel foreign aid. Rep. Shadegg voted no, but told mainstream media one thing while telling Jewish constituents another.

His general press release after the vote complained about the breakdown of the budget process, and the “unsustainable” increases in spending by the Republican-controlled government, making his “no” vote seem inevitable.

But in a post-vote column in the Greater Phoenix Jewish News, Shadegg sent Jewish voters a much different message: “My vote against this legislation was a protest against reckless spending and the corruption of the budget process. Before casting my vote, though, I made sure that the bill had the votes to pass.”

“Profiles in Courage,” this ain’t. Rep. Shadegg first made sure his vote wouldn’t matter, then took his “principled” stand only because it wouldn’t change the result. How brave. How convenient.

Shadegg admits he confirmed the bill had enough votes before indulging in his symbolic, meaningless gesture. He’s in debt to those who voted the other way, giving him the opportunity to denounce reckless spending to most voters, while giving the Jewish community the impression that if support for Israel had been in genuine peril, he would have voted “yes.”

Shadegg wants the general community to believe that he thinks nothing is more important than fiscal responsibility, but he wants the Jewish community to believe that U.S. aid for Israel is more important. By tailoring his message differently to different groups, he might have gotten away with it -- again.

Shadegg told the mainstream media one thing but made sure Jewish voters got a different message another time, too. In 2000, when President Clinton -- using long-standing presidential authority granted in the Antiquities Act, since specifically upheld by the courts -- created the Ironwood National Monument in Arizona, Shadegg compared that action to how Hitler “eroded the will of the German people to resist evil.” When called on that grotesque and false analogy, he apologized, but in a statement he sent just to the Jewish News.

See how hypocritical GOP spin about “Bush hatred” is? Today, Republicans find somebody on some website, no matter how weird or obscure, who calls Bush a Nazi, and all Democrats are to blame. But someone now a five-term GOP congressman plays the Hitler card, and it all goes away with an apology that only Jews will read. We Democrats have a long way to go before we catch up to the Republicans.

Note also that Shadegg’s complaints about the “corruption of the budget process” ring hollow, because the GOP House leadership, which Shadegg supports, is doing the corrupting. Republican earmarks, in both number and dollar volume, are now multiples of the worst excesses under Democratic control. Even Shadegg admits that “money which used to be allocated on merit is now spent on the basis of power and influence.” But he supports these same GOP leaders, who have made things so much worse.

Finally, the staffer who actually wrote Rep. Shadegg’s piece might want to do better fact-checking next time. H. Res. 409 condemns anti-Semitic remarks by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, not Indonesia.

But that’s no big deal. These House resolutions are essentially symbolic, meaningless gestures. Just like Rep. Shadegg’s vote on the spending bill.

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