Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Criticism for Republicans

It has been said that I should criticize Republicans too, just to be balanced. While I don’t believe that to be true, I am going to do so because these Republicans really deserve to be chastised.

I don’t know if Pat Robertson is a Republican. I assume he is, but I don’t know the man, I don’t follow him, and I don’t subscribe to his belief-set. However, for the sake of argument, I’ll go out on a limb and just say he is a Republican. On Monday, August 22, 2005 Pat Robertson said of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela: “If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it...It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war...We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability...We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with." Robertson’s remarks ignited a firestorm of indignation from Venezuela, a media colonoscopy, and embarrassment for the citizens of the US. Within two days, Robertson was backtracking and ‘spinning’ to tilt. Clarifying without apologizing, the preacher said: “I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnaping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.”

Well, you’d have to be truly stupid to believe Robertson’s pathetic ‘clarification’ and Robertson should own his comments. His backtracking is worse than his original moronic statement. Chavez is a communist and he does require consideration, but he certainly does not rise to the level of assassination. He could seriously damage our economy by withholding oil shipments. Apparently, many refineries are geared for Venezuelan oil and would require retooling at great expense to process crude from another region, not to mention the ‘downtime’ for refitting and finding a new supplier. However, such a move would destabilize the Venezuelan economy to a degree as well, though not so badly, as China would be more than willing to buy oil originally earmarked for the US. Still, the threat from Chavez is worth consideration but not extreme prejudice.

Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is a Republican. He is also a Viet Nam War veteran who earned two Purple Hearts. Sen. Hagel is quickly becoming a celebrity. AP reporter Douglass K. Daniel described Hagel as “a leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate” in a report about his appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week’ show on Sunday, August 21, 2005. What focused attention on Sen. Hagel were comments like these: “[We are] locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam...We should start figuring out how we get out of there, but with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur...’stay the course’ is not a policy...By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning.”

The media have been waiting desperately for a leading Republican to make statements such as these. There are two problems here: (one) Hagel is not a “leading Republican” and; (two) Hagel is wrong. Hagel is only a second-termer who has written no legislation of note. He does not chair any Senate committee, hold any position in the Senate leadership, and has no official responsibilities. Hagel is what mainstream Republicans call a RINO (as in Republican In Name Only) who more-often-than-not sides with his Democratic colleagues like Joe Biden. When Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (SC) proposed a new draft, Hagel joined them. Hardly a “leading Republican,” but the media needed him to be one in order to give him gravitas.

Hagel is right when he says “our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East” and most Republicans agree with that statement. All the Middle East dictators are quaking in their boots: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are flooding Iraq with mercenary-terrorists in an effort to defeat the burgeoning democracy, while the visible success there promotes dissident opposition for them at home. However, as a Viet Nam Vet, Hagel’s experience should show him the clear and striking differences between that war and the fighting in Iraq. We are not “bogged-down” and we are most certainly winning. “When you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq” you see a dictatorial regime replaced by a fledgling democracy, free and fair elections, and a draft Constitution - how could that possibly be defined as “not winning?” Most damning for Hagel is that he IS a United States Senator and has the power to write, directly lobby others in Congress, and vote on legislation. If he truly felt that more funds, more armor, more weapons, or more troops were necessary in Iraq he “holds the purse-strings,” he could make that happen - but he hasn’t. Of course, Hagel is a “prospective presidential candidate” and his opinions and statements are colored and clouded by his aspirations, not by any concern for our troops or by any sense of honesty.

Another Republican deserving a stinging slap is John McCain. Senator McCain recently returned from a trip to Alaska where he witnessed snow melting in the summertime. That sight so shook him that he immediately jumped on the ‘global warming band-wagon.’ McCain told reporters: “We are convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicated that climate change is taking place and human activities play a very large role.” McCain told AP reporter Dan Joling that “Americans will demand laws to decrease emissions, just as they demanded campaign financing reform.” Americans did not demand campaign finance reform, McCain created that issue as a horse he hoped to ride into the White House, but the absolute travesty of CFR was a lame horse that kept McCain out of the running. Similarly, most Americans are not demanding emissions controls. Sen. McCain may be “convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicate” human-caused climate change, but most scientists are not. Make no mistake, the Climate Stewardship & Innovation Act, to be sponsored by McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), which will cap US emissions at 2000 levels, will require emissions reductions of at least 50%, as well as a similar reduction in energy use. The societal and economic costs of this will be disastrous and that’s just in the US; there will be ‘spill-over’ repercussions felt around the world. The worst part is that there is no guarantee that cutting emissions will help. Of course, McCain is also a “prospective presidential candidate” and his opinions and statements are colored and clouded by his aspirations, not by any concern for our environment or by any sense of honesty.

Both Hagel and McCain are political operatives pandering to an electoral segment, attempting to curry favor and garner votes. I could lump Senator Jon Voinovich in with them for his embarrassing blubbering about John Bolton on the Senate floor, on international TV, but that doesn’t rise to the level of scorn. I could take aim at Tom DeLay, but he hasn’t been indicted, much less convicted of anything. Congressman Cunningham has acted unethically, perhaps even criminally, he should be run out of town on a rail and probably will be shortly. Karl Rove would seem a likely target, except he hasn’t done anything wrong, despite all the hubbub. George W. Bush should have a tougher, more thorough, leadership position on illegal immigration and border security, but it is unfair to lay all the blame on him. Republicans are people too, flawed, and far from perfect; but when was the last time you read a scathing review and rebuke of Democrats written by a Democrat? The bottom-line issue is that it was the Democratic party which coined the phrase “character doesn’t matter” and they keep proving that they believe it.


At 1:35 PM, Blogger LTC Murphy said...

Great analysis!

And, you're right, I don't often see democratic criticism of democrats so its refreshing to read a well thought out synopsis of our more liberal Republicans by another Republican. Nice job!


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