Democratic Underground

Are the Republicans Mean Spirited?
by Bradford Shaw

In today's political atmosphere, it's kind of hard to figure out who the heroes and villains really are. It seems to most people that there is enough malice and venom in Washington to go around, and it's difficult to find a source of this hatred. Most people have a short memory where politics is concerned, primarily due, I think, to the cyclical disappointment process that we put ourselves through every four years.

Someone is always bound to be disappointed and frustrated with the outcome of the election of our governmental officials. Let's just go back in time a little to the last transition of power between the parties. As I remember it, the Democrats didn't waste any time gloating over their victory. Instead they elected to include republicans in the decision-making process, at least where the defense department was concerned.

On the other hand, George W, who lost the election by a half a million votes, ignored all of those people who chose the other side, and went with his own silly choices. Instead of uniting the country with several Democratic cabinet nominations, He decided to go GOP on all but one. He even pacified the far right with his pick of John Ashcroft. In fact the only group of people that he hasn't disenfranchised are the far right.

His cabinet may indeed seem diverse or at least look diverse, but all of the people picked so far would be perfectly happy with whatever Shrub tells them to think. Can you imagine anyone disagreeing with the newly ordained king? If so, well off with his (or her) head! Even the dubiously honorable Colin Powell would march against his own former troops, just like Macarthur if ordered to by the Republican-in-Chief.

All of this leads to a conclusion that not only are the Republicans mean spirited in their rhetoric, but mean spirited in their policy and execution. In the realm of the Senate and House, why would it be so destructive for both parties to engage in power sharing? Couldn't they figure out a way to share responsibility and credit?

Apparently Trent Lott doesn't think that he has to share diddlysquat with the opposing party. He is so full of partisan programming that he is unable to fairly lead the majority in the Senate. He is of course fulfilling his conceived role of leader of his party in that august body, but he is not representing the feelings and values of modern America. Moving to the house, Dennis Hastert seems more fair-minded, but is overshadowed by Tom DeLay. Does Tom DeLay represent the future of this country? I certainly hope not. He embodies the worst of the mean-spirited Republicans, with his rapid-fire response to anything he deems liberal or left leaning.

What can a reasonable person do to recognize mean-spiritedness? Well the best way is to see what the final goal is in most cases. When the Republicans exercise what most rational folks would call mean-spiritedness, it's usually to ruin someone's career or take back the White House, or dominate the Congress, or take over the Supreme Court. The Republicans exercise of mean-spiritedness is usually a personal attack on someone's credibility or morality or ability to even hold office.

The Democrats attempt at mean-spiritedness is pretty weak. They have a tendency to be tolerant of most people and lifestyles, and that usually leads to attacks on the opponents' policies and attitudes rather than their personal morality. That type of congressional attitude would logically lead to mutual cooperation, not an attempt to remove from office the most popular president in 20 years.

History Lesson For The Masses

The mean-spirited factor began in 1973, with the Watergate investigation. I think that the Republicans were overly sensitive to former president Nixon's plight, in that they thought him to be an underdog in the political arena. They considered him to be the original come back kid after his "You won't have Nixon to kick around" speech following an embarrassing defeat in California.

Most politicos counted Nixon out after that moment, considering it to be one of the most embarrassing political defeats and concession speeches in modern history. After his successful run for president in 1968, the Republican leadership looked to Nixon to build a power base and carry them into the future. Well, the Democrats nipped that in the bud with the Watergate investigation, and that, I believe was the beginning of the political atmosphere that we are saddled with today.

I can remember, back then, reading about the new think tanks in Washington dedicated to ruining Democratic hopefuls after the Nixon debacle. I thought that this was an incredible waste of money, but since it was privately funded, I didn't much care. Now, upon reflection, I wish that this type of project were illegal. It seems immoral to dedicate all of those resources to try to ruin a person's career.

On the flip side, the Republicans might be able to claim that the Democrats started this activity with Watergate, and continued it throughout the seventies and eighties, blocking the Bork nomination, and disrupting the Clarence Thomas confirmation process. Bork and Thomas were clearly right wing demagogues who most assuredly weren't the best people for the job, but were put up for those high positions because of their politics, but once again I digress.

The GOP, (Grumpy Old Prudes), are unquestionably the founding fathers of negative campaigning as history has taught us. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. The Republicans really put their money where their mouth was when it came to funding dirty tricks and smear campaigns throughout the seventies and eighties, as well as those fabulous think tanks aforementioned.

When the Democrats gained power in 1992, it was an incredible wake up call to the GOP. After the defeat of Bush the first, they found themselves shut out of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Presidency. Thank goodness for them that they still held the majority of the country's money. Through their funding they were able to bankroll several projects, which led to the Paula Jones fiasco, as well as the Lewinsky mess, not to mention the Contract on America that good old Newt brought to Congress. This combined with an ingenious long range Supreme Court placement project, led to the biggest waste of government money since the cold war build up (drum roll please): the failed impeachment process.

So are the Republicans mean spirited? Barring the use of expletives, HECK YES! They are the founding fathers of this type of politics, and should feel righteously ashamed of the atmosphere that this legacy has burdened upon us. The think tanks, the PACS, the talk radio hosts who talk down to, yet mollify their audiences with right wing diatribes, the endless investigations into meaningless scandals, the deep pockets of the corporations who are owned by the people who would benefit most from a Republican presence, all lead to our current problem.

Nobody with any sense of privacy would ever consider running for the Presidency these days, thanks to the GOP. The tragedy of this is that many talented, brilliant, and gifted individuals would never even give a moment's thought to exposing themselves to the media onslaught that has been generated by this attack-dog atmosphere.

I simply could not afford to pay off all the people involved in any possible minor deviance that I may have had from the mainstream, unlike GW. He came from a long line of rich rice pudding heads that were able to buy their way in to and out of any problematic situation which could arise.

Is that why nobody heard about George's DUI arrest until just before the election? No! It couldn't be! He said that he hid his DUI for the kids sake, not his. It had nothing to do with his or his father's future political careers.

And religions are "faith based charities."

And school vouchers are "hope scholarships."

And tax cuts for the rich are "economic incentives for the private sector."

Mean spirited and good with the spin.


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