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18 Questions *From* Congressional Republicans

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The Republican Party, as every schoolchild knows, has by now degenerated from a quasi-aristocratic affinity group of Rotarian strivers and upper-crust coupon-clippers, into a wild-eyed cult, fully marinating in denial and mendacity, in which the very rich exploit the very credulous for the purposes of promoting corporate dominance in the service of the re-distribution of wealth upward via the manipulation of "values."

Yeah, I know. Duh. Yawn. Check, please.

Still: How do they do it? How do they talk to themselves--which is to say, how do they butter up the indignant "patriots" and self-righteous "warriors for Christ" on whom they want to put the touch for some election-year dough? (Butter up, touch, dough: as always, it all comes down to bread.)

For some reason I happen to be on the mailing list of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Here, then, duly annotated, are the 18 (a sacred Hebrew number standing for LIFE!) questions they just sent me. In fact, so wide-ranging and important are these questions, I may have to address them in a two-part post. Because summarizing and condensing won't do them justice. I'm talking about an NRCC Every-Member Canvas "prepared for the exclusive use of Mr. Ellis Weiner." Eat your hearts out, those of you who aren't me.

It goes without saying that filling in the questionnaire involves three steps: 1) Answer the questions; 2) Sign the form; 3) Return it with "the largest contribution you can make at this time." Can do. Behold:

1. Do I believe that "our nation's" official "position" on marriage should be that it is the legal union of a man and a woman, and not of two people of the same sex?

I wasn't aware that nations had positions. I thought they had laws. For this reason I answered "Not sure."

2. Following the "victory" of Congress and the president passing a law banning "partial-birth abortions," do I think "we" should increase "our" efforts to "revisit" Roe-v-Wade, which "has made it easier to kill unborn babies for over 30 years in our country"?

I thought this question missed the point, which is that it should be easier to kill already-born babies, a list of whose names I am willing to provide. Interestingly, all of them are Republicans! I answered "Not sure."

3. Do I want "us" to "concentrate even more on moral, family, and values issues during this session of Congress than we did on the previous one?"

Normally, yes (and I appreciate the bonus zeal in that use of "even more"). I want us to promote my morals, my family, and my values. But then I realized that I couldn't really name any actual Republican achievement concerning "values" in the previous session. The partial-birth abortion ban doesn't promote a value, it promotes a piece of dogma. (The purported "value" it supposedly sustains, that "life is sacred," is so often honored in the breach by this administration it hardly bears mentioning. If there's one thing that isn't sacred to Republicans, it's "life."). So I decided this was a trick question, and bailed out by answering "Not sure."

4. "Liberal Democrats," Mr. Ellis Weiner's canvas declares, "persist in attacking our Government's steps and strategies in fighting the War on Terror." Do I approve of "our" policies for seeking out and destroying terrorists and their organizations?

I cannot take any question seriously in which a Republican capitalizes "government." Republicans hate government. They brag about it. George W. Bush has made it his life's mission--which he has accomplished, thank you--to prove that government destroys, ruins, corrupts, or botches literally everything it attempts. Another trick question. Another "Not sure."

5. Do I feel that any inconvenience that may be caused by security measures at airports, train stations, and public buildings "is worth the hassle"?

Oh please. I wasn't born yesterday. I know, even if the intern who wrote this questionnaire doesn't, that "hassle" is a 1960's hippie word. I will not so easily be tricked into revealing that I was once a 1960's hippie. "Unsure of how I feel about this," is my answer, and you can quote me.

6. Do I support President Bush's "pro-growth approach" to solving our economic problems "by creating more jobs and creating a more receptive climate for risk-takers who start new businesses"?

Not any more. This "pro-growth approach" has led to what everybody including two of our three dogs is calling a recession. (The third, Chester, our foster Ridgeback, is still holding to his "wait-and-see" position.) I'd like the president to use what remains of his time in office to advance an anti-growth approach, to sort of use reverse psychology to maybe try and fool the economy. "Not really" was a tempting box to check, but in the end, because I'm not an economist, I answered "Not sure."

7. Do I support "our Republican insistence" that making the Bush tax cuts "PERMANENT" (all caps in the original) is the best way "to ensure that America's families, seniors, hard working job holders and small business owners can keep more of their hard-earned dollars?"

Could anything be more manipulative? This entire list of so-called beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts is a tissue of lies, provided you pronounce tissue as "tiss-you," in the fancy Brit manner. First, families don't earn dollars, hard-ly or otherwise. Dad earns dollars; Mom gets "house money" and kids get allowances, just as Adam and Eve and their kids (Cain and Abel) did in the Bible. Second, seniors, fine--but what about juniors, sophomores, and freshmen? I resent the classist bias. Third, the fate of small business owners is touching, and so forth, but what about our large business owners? What about our multi-national corporations? I feel strongly that any tax policy that omits them cannot be supported. Then again, I'm not sure how our government can tax multi-national corporations, since they're...you know. Multi-national. So I answered "Not sure."

8. "Support appears to be growing in Washington for an overhaul of the way we pay federal taxes." How would I prefer to see our tax laws completely changed: A national flat tax? By "abolishing the IRS altogether and creating a national sales tax applied only to items that are actually purchased"? Or keep the tax system the same?

I was actually not crazy about any of these options. The flat tax and the national sales tax both seem, not only unfair, but deliberately designed to be unfair, because everyone has to pay the same $3.89 for a gallon of milk, if by "milk" I mean "gasoline." This is cruel, heartless, and socially retrograde--all of which are classic Republican values I can certainly support, normally, but which would in this case adversely affect what I laughingly call my "lifestyle." However, those were the only three answers available. Therefore I wrote in and checked, in my own hand-drawn box, "Not sure."

9. Because "huge challenges" will arrive as the Baby Boomers soon begin retiring, how do I feel about the proposal, advanced by "many Republicans," that today's "younger workers be given a chance to invest a portion of their income into personal retirement plans"?

I'll tell you how I feel. I feel a combination of disbelief (that anyone can afford to retire), resentment (that today's younger workers will be exempt from funding my Social Security), and gratitude (that many Republicans care enough about me to address this issue). Put them altogether, they spell "I'd need to know more about it before making a decision."

Exhausting? Somewhat. But enlightening, no? And those are just the front nine. Watch this space later in the week for my review of the final nine questions, and join me as I decide how much money to send the National Republican Congressional Committee, and my method of payment. Oh, and to find out whether or not the return envelope is postage-paid.

Cross-posted at What HE Said