Imagine the setting. Feel the history in the pomp and circumstance of a presidential entrance into the chambers of the House of Representatives. Consider the deep respect commanded by the office of the presidency. Tradition runs deep and all in attendance rise to their feet as our leader makes his way to the podium.
President George W. Bush stands before his audience and a nation reeling from economic collapse and declares that our banking system is sound. Max Baucus stands up and yells, “You lie!”
Now consider the Republican response to such an outrage. Our imagination need not wander far. The cable news outlets would be flooded with conservatives choking with rage. Pompous talking heads would express indignant fury. Accusations of treason would fly like sparks at a July 4 party. Democrats would be called un-American, unpatriotic, Communists. Right wing radio would be saturated with angry callers, fueled by the demagoguery of talking heads fanning the flames of hate. Pious calls for apology would ring out. The incident would dominate all news coverage, serving as the perfect excuse for misdirection and misinformation. All discussion of the issues of the day would cease in the onslaught of righteous indignation that anybody would dare dishonor the presidency with such a disgusting display of disrespect.
Let nobody have any doubt that an outburst against Bush in a speech before a joint session of the Congress would lead to this inevitable Republican response. Visualize the flapping jowls of Rush Limbaugh, the bloated face of Glenn Beck and the heavy smirk of Sean Hannity as they bleat on about the real America, and how Republicans would never soil sacred tradition like those radical Democrats.
Let us then listen carefully to the reaction to the outburst by South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson as President Obama spoke to the nation. Wait… Yes, that is indeed a deafening silence I hear in the distance. Instead of a fire hose of protests, we heard some muted grumbling from John McCain and Rep. Jerry Lewis that Wilson was disrespectful. Some moderate Republicans have suggested the behavior warrants further scrutiny to determine if any sanctions are warranted. But where is the outrage on the airways, on cable news and in the blogosphere? Where is the red-faced fury? Where are the calls for immediate apologies?
The double standard held by Republicans has gone too far.
This hyper-partisanship is destroying our ability to solve our most pressing problems. Republicans have become delusional in thinking that anything done by the GOP is righteous and all actions on the left are threats to our life and liberty. Reason has been thrown out the door, replaced with a blinded, single-minded and hateful view of the world. They openly wish for Obama to fail, which if in reverse they would decry as anti-American. They actively seek to derail health care reform of any kind, no matter the cost of inaction to the nation’s long-term prosperity. They have redefined hypocrisy by ignoring failures on the right and blatantly lying about the left, often accusing Democrats of the very abuses perpetrated by Republicans. Think of the response to Joe Wilson’s ridiculous behavior. Think of family values, Mark Sanford and John Ensign. Speaking of which, why hasn’t Joe Wilson cried out “You lie!” when Mark Sanford speaks? Fox News routinely called Bush protesters unpatriotic, but applauded the tea party protests against Obama. We must no longer abide this repulsive blind bias and hypocritical intolerance.
President Obama said the time for action is now. He is right, and so too is it time to abandon any pretense of bipartisanship. We need to push the Republicans aside so that we may govern responsibly. Obama tried mightily to engage the other side, and in return he is denigrated as a Communist. A dialogue requires at least two parties; otherwise one is talking to oneself. That is now the case.
Republicans no longer represent a viable partner in governing. After eight years of Bush the GOP’s commitment to small government, lower taxes and a balanced budget is comical. Those ideals remain desirable, but only the Democrats can ultimately deliver in the context of responsible leadership. Immediately following Obama’s address, the Republican response shamelessly continued to talk about government “rationing” when nothing of the kind is being remotely considered in any of the health care proposals. The Party of family values is gagging on a never-ending series of extra-marital affairs both gay and straight. The conservative Supreme Court is indifferent to innocents being executed even when DNA evidence clearly exonerates the accused. Cheney is on the stump justifying torture, even that done outside the grotesque guidelines he approved. The GOP has become a parody if itself, a Saturday Night Live skit.
The GOP is now the Party of lies, misinformation, misdirection, torture, infidelity, illegal wars, bloated government, higher taxes, broken health care, and murder of the innocent. What a platform.
President Obama needs to move on. His attempt to engage the Republicans was worthy, and could have been successful if the other side was open to reasonable compromise. Instead the GOP is committed to destructive opposition. We need to move beyond the false story of the right and leave the GOP behind to wallow in its hateful brew of disinformation and hypocrisy while responsible Democrats take the country into the future.
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