Monday, April 28, 2003

That Was Then, This Is Now--Five Weeks Later

Here's this week's Tribune column. I wanted to compare the reaction to Newt Gingrich's speech after the war with Tom Daschle's unscripted remarks before the war. Notice the difference in the vehemence of the reaction, which essentially boiled down to that Newt may be egotistical but Daschle is a coward and a traitor. (And tell me again which one of them is the Vietnam veteran?) And for all of the GOP assertion that Newt has been banished to the wilderness, he still has the AEI post, the Fox News gig, and the seat on the Defense Policy Board, just like Richard Perle. Sheesh.

Those of you not in Arizona may not know about the multi-million dollar verdict against Corporation Commissioner Jim Irvin for attempting to use his office to steer a multi-state merger to a firm affiliated with his former chief of staff. But you probably don't want to know.

The Two-Faced GOP

East Valley Tribune, Apr. 27, 2003

Impeachment, diplomacy, whatever: Watch the GOP double standard at work again.

Last month, it was treason -- treason! -- to disparage the Bush administration’s diplomacy. Now it’s conservative holy writ.

Try this test developed by Wyeth Ruthven. See any substantive difference in these two statements?

“I’m saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn’t create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.”

“The last seven months have involved six months of diplomatic failure and one month of military success. The first days after military victory indicate the pattern of diplomatic failure is beginning once again and threatens to undo the effects of military victory.”

The first speaker was Sen. Tom Daschle on March 18, the second was former Speaker Newt Gingrich on April 22. The differences? Five weeks and party registration.

In March, calling Bush administration diplomacy a failure was unpatriotic, treasonous, even French. Now conservatives are fighting other battles, so calling Bush administration diplomacy a failure is a heroic duty. Watch George Will’s columns for the exact parameters of this new “reality.”

Of course, whenever a Republican criticizes the administration, it’s the fault of some disembodied department or anonymous bureaucrat, not the White House. It’s not Bush administration diplomacy, it’s the State Department’s fault. The sign on President Bush’s desk apparently says “The buck stops over there.”

That certainly fits with GOP spin about George W. Bush, that he sets grand, strategic visions and doesn’t bother with details, leaving those to subordinates. Then they pretend that whenever anything good happens, it’s a grand, strategic thing, and whenever anything bad happens, it’s a detail -- far beneath (or beyond) the President’s brain.

No Republican ever let Bill Clinton dodge personal responsibility for anything that went wrong anywhere in the federal government, no matter how obscure. But then, Clinton is smart, so people assumed he knew what was going on. That’s a burden Bush need not bear.

And speaking of Clinton, notice how the rules for impeachment have changed, now that it’s a Republican in trouble? In 1998, when Clinton’s behavior in a civil lawsuit was at issue, the GOP swore its duty to uphold the law without exception or delay. In 2003, when Corporation Commissioner Jim Irvin’s behavior in a civil lawsuit is at issue, the GOP doesn’t want to rush things.

The perjury charges against Clinton came from a prosecutor -- Kenneth Starr -- and never went to court. The extortion and abuse of office charges against Jim Irvin are a jury verdict after a full trial. But it was vital to have Clinton’s impeachment and trial immediately, but with Irvin, legislators will wait until he exhausts his appeals.

In 1998, J. D. Hayworth flouted the usual per-sentence limit on clich├ęs explaining why we had to impeach Clinton immediately: “[F]or those who want to carve out an exception to the rule of law, it is as if we take the scales of justice from the hands of Lady Justice, and take off her blindfold and ask her to put an eye on the opinion polls and a moistened finger in the wind.”

This past week, Speaker Jake Flake said the House wouldn’t worry about impeaching Irvin because, well, they’re really busy with the budget, and the legal process is still ongoing, and the voters had reelected him. Apparently, Lady Justice may take off that blindfold -- for a Republican.

Lots of times in politics you risk being called a hypocrite. But do Republicans really want to waste one of them on Jim Irvin?

No comments: