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Obama, Laura Ingraham, the Special Olympics, AIG, the Republicans and Jesus

04/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So now the Republicans decide the AIG bonuses are bad? So now FOX News' only takeaway from President Obama (on Leno) is an off the cuff remark about the Special Olympics? The no compassion, greed-is-good ethos that the Republicans labored so hard to nurture is forgotten when it suits them. Where was the Republican health care plan to actually help all those special Olympians? Where are the regulations of the financial industry that the Republicans trashed? Nowhere is the answer to both questions. That won't stop the grandstanding though.

The Republicans are using the AIG debacle (or any real or imagined "gaff" they can dig up) to try and smear President Obama with the excrement of the Republican's own failures. There would be fewer special Olympians if we had decent health care for all, because more children would be born healthy. We would have had no financial meltdown if Bush and the Republicans had been working for us, instead of for the wealthiest Americans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee's "logic" is that President Obama's stimulus bill is the "culprit" for the AIG bonuses! And FOX (yes, that is the we-never-met-a-poor-person-we-liked FOX News) finds the President "insensitive" to the hardships of the disabled!

As Jesus would say to the money-worshiping Republican leadership and the (now conveniently) sensitive leadership of FOX News; "Ye Hypocrites!"

Let me tell you a little story that illustrates where the Republicans are really coming from.

Laura Ingraham loved me... for a little while. She had me on her show 2 times... until she invited me on her show a third time and I told her that I thought we should re-institute the draft. What does that have to do with the AIG bonus issue and Republican hypocrisy? I'll explain.

Laura first invited me on her show to talk about my book (co-authored with my son John) Keeping Faith -- A Father-Son Story About Love and The United States Marine Corps. She liked that book since Laura assumed (wrongly) that because I am pro-military family I must also have also been pro-Bush, pro-Republican and pro-the Iraq war.

Then I wrote a book (co-authored with former Clinton appointee Kathy Roth Douquet): AWOL -- The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes From Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country. Senator McCain endorsed our book and General Tommy Franks wrote a glowing forward. Laura invited me back on her show. Explaining my argument (put forth in AWOL) I told Laura that it wasn't fair that our military concentrated on recruiting from the middle and lower middle classes while the wealthy were rarely, if ever, asked to serve. I expected her to agree. I thought she'd be all for drafting those "East Coast liberals from Harvard" etc., (as she would call them). Nothing doing!

Her on air answer?

"The wealthy do plenty for our country already. They pay very high taxes!"

She actually said that as if the wealthy paying taxes was a sacrifice with the same moral standing as our men and women volunteering to get shot at to protect her. Laura said that knowing (and apparently not caring) that she was sounding mighty like a certain queen who once said; "Let them eat cake!" when told the peasants had no bread. She said that knowing that another "queen" -- Leona Helmsley -- famously said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes ..."

Laura didn't care how she sounded because I'd smoked her out in an unguarded moment. Game over! Patriotism over! I'd just stormed the Republican's sacred temple! Get past the flag-wrapped exterior and inside there is nothing but the worship of money and the cult of greed.

I got several emails from Laura's (otherwise faithful Republican) listeners who were also military parents saying they were shocked by Laura's obsequious deference to the wealthy classes. These military mothers and fathers, like me, felt insulted. Our children were at war and Laura didn't seem to give a rat's ass about the fact that so few privileged young people were stepping up to help our kids. What she cared about was that the rich should not be asked to serve -- because they were already paying "so much" in taxes!

(There are plenty of good reasons to argue that a draft is a bad idea. Kathy, my co-author in AWOL took that point of view in our book, as do many military leaders. But my point here isn't the draft issue but Laura's "reason" for being against it.)

You see the Republican's much advertised "pro-military" stance is limited to supporting wars fought by other people's kids. Just like their sudden interest in the disabled is limited to faulting Obama for a remark. "Patriotism" for them is all about the neoconservative all-wars-are-good-wars agenda, but never with the Republican masters' fat cat's kids getting killed. Let the little people come home in flag-draped coffins. The wealthy need not fight. They do their "duty" by (sometimes) graciously paying taxes. As for the disabled, let them show up for the Special Olympics but not at a doctors office for care.

If you want to know why the Republicans hate President Obama (and are using the AIG bonus issue and/or any remark they can parse, to try to smear him) it is because they would rather see our country fail than have Obama succeed. It's for the same reason that Laura instantly cooled off to me after I started talking about re-instituting the draft to force wealthy Americans to behave like citizens of a democracy, rather than acting like Persian kings sending slave and/or mercenary armies of the "little people" to die for them.

The knee-jerk Republican response to any question -- from military service, to taxes, to bonuses -- is to protect the wealthy. Wealth is their only religion. The GOP love to talk about Christian religion to stroke their evangelical base but they actually hate anyone who follows the historic Jesus who said: "It is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God."

The hatred in the bosom of the GOP for President Obama and the refusal of the Republicans to work with our brilliant young president to save our country from ruin, is faith-based. I'm not talking about faith in God. No, this is faith in wealth as a good in itself, as the real and only Republican god. Obama is a heretic, as the GOP sees it. The Republicans will never forgive Obama for trying to follow the example of the actual historic Jesus who had compassion on the poor -- as opposed to the Republican entirely made up pro-wealth "Jesus" of gay bashing and hatred of the "other."

Make no mistake: the GOP leaders' grandstanding on the AIG bonus issue is an utter lie. They know that under any other circumstances they'd be all for the undeserving rich getting richer.

The GOP leadership welcomes populist distractions from AIG to remarks on Leno! They can use the anger of the public against the unfairness in this society -- that the Republicans themselves created -- to stall and undermine President Obama's real and substantial efforts to reform our country, save our economy and make America a fairer place where we all are asked to share the duties of citizenship, love of neighbor and become our brother's keeper.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. Now in paperback.