Finally, after four years, a Firesign Theatre reference!
This week's column was inspired by a letter to the editor that apparently just ran in the Scottsdale edition, not the full panoply of East Valley Tribunes. While normally I don't respond much to letters to the editor--I figure if I'm not riling them up, I'm just not doing my job--but this letter was so jaw-droppingly at odds with reality that I couldn't let it pass. If you want to read J.F.'s letter in full, it's here. Still, while you can get the flavor without clicking from the column anyway, it's still worth quoting J.F. in full:
Publication:East Valley Tribune; Date:Mar 25, 2006; Section:Scottsdale Opinion; Page Number:52
Dems helped facilitate profligacy
Sam Coppersmith almost got it right with his column in Sunday’s Tribune. His comments about the spending habits of the Republican Congress were not far off base, but he failed to point out that the basic cause of this spending spree was due to the action of the Democrats.
Some time ago, when the Democrats had control of the Congress, the Republicans, in an attempt to regain control, introduced the “Contract with America.” Promises were made to the American public outlining, among other things, fiscal responsibility of a Republican Congress.
The effort was successful in electing a Republican majority. As a result, a principal architect of the “Contract” became the target for removal by the Democrats. The conditions of the “Contract” without the principal architect, diminished and the “Contract with America” no longer had the intended impact.
While the Republican Congress has gone overboard in their spending spree, the Democrats must share their part of the blame by having removed the spending restraint offered by the now defunct “Contract with America.”
So much for what actually happened. Now read the column.
The print version of the colum is here. My proposed title was " 'The Responsibility Era' Means Republicans Aren't Responsible For Anything" but the editor's choice was close enough. And maybe the best analogy isn't the Confederate flag, but rather all of the solidarity-with-Israel events where we carry the Israeli flag. So that's OK because Israel is farther away than Mexico?
GOP WON'T TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING
East Valley Tribune, April 2, 2006
I got a semi-compliment from Scottsdale reader J.F., whose letter to the editor on March 25 called my comments about the fiscal imprudence of the GOP Congress “not far off base.” That’s high praise from a ‘winger. (J.F. is a ‘winger because a past letter to the editor, in the other daily newspaper, urged Congress not to adopt a ban on cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees. That’s how we recognize conservatives these days -- support for torture.)
But J.F. said that it really wasn’t the Republicans’ fault, because the “basic cause” of Republicans’ profligacy was something the Democrats did.
That assertion is quite perplexing to anybody residing in the reality-based universe, so please pay attention. J.F.’s theory begins with the Republicans adopting the “Contract with America,” which promised fiscal responsibility. The Contract succeeded in electing a GOP congressional majority, so “a principal architect” of the Contract became “a target for removal by the Democrats.” Once this guy was removed, the Contract “no longer had the intended impact” and it’s now “defunct” -- all because of the Democrats.
I recount J.F.’s argument in detail because it shows how far Republicans must stretch to avoid the unpleasant reality of their total control of all three branches of the federal government, with its absolutely terrible results. Let’s leave aside for the moment that the “Contract with America” wasn’t a plan but rather a collection of soundbites, which actually had very little to do with fiscal responsibility. J.F.’s attempt to blame it all on the Democrats ignores that the “Contract with America” wasn’t signed by just one guy, but by almost every Republican running that year, including Arizona’s J.D. Hayworth and John Shadegg. If the Contract is defunct, it’s the GOP incumbents who defaulted on it. The Contract didn’t expire when this unnamed “principal architect” did; it’s the Republican incumbents who decided it wasn’t a real contract, merely a campaign gimmick.
J.F. also managed to avoid naming this all-important “principal architect” whose removal supposedly excuses Republicans from keeping their promises. For those with short memories, it was Newt Gingrich. Democrats may have targeted Gingrich, but never could defeat him in his basically bulletproof GOP district. Instead, Gingrich resigned from Congress when several GOP backbenchers refused to support him for speaker after Republicans unexpectedly lost seats in the 1998 midterm elections, ostensibly because Newt wasn’t being conservative enough.
And who played a prominent role in ousting Gingrich? Why, none other than business lobbyist and state GOP chairman (sorry to be redundant) Matt Salmon. It wasn’t the Democrats that got rid of Newt, J.F.; it was the Republicans.
But give J.F. credit for being a “real” Republican, because he shares the GOP core belief that no Republican is ever responsible for anything. That’s how George W. Bush can talk with total bafflement that FEMA isn’t getting trailers to Katrina evacuees, as if he and his appointees somehow have nothing to do with running FEMA. That’s how GOP incumbent Jon Kyl, who’s been in Congress for nearly 20 years, is campaigning yet again against irresponsible incumbents who've been in Congress for nearly 20 years. And J.F. apparently really does believe that the current GOP Congress and the Bush administration can’t be blamed for anything because of a resignation that occurred almost eight years ago (and one that he, in his valiant attempt to make reality conform to his beliefs, blames on Democrats and not the Republicans like Salmon who actually knifed Newt).
There’s a simple cure for Contract default: Had enough? Stop electing Republicans.
Finally, I’ve been asked for my opinion by some folks outraged that those immigrant rights marchers carried Mexican flags. However, I view flying the Mexican flag as less disturbing and improper than displaying the Confederate flag. (Don’t get me started on why the State of Arizona would honor Jefferson Davis by naming a highway after him.) You’d think the flag of an insurrection against the U.S. would be more offensive than the flag of our southern neighbor. Unless there’s something else going on here. I wonder what that could be?