I have to admit, I've really respected the Republicans in Congress for standing steadfast by their pledge to Grover Norquist not to ever vote to raise taxes.
Truly. It's admirable when someone makes a pledge and sticks by their word of honor to keep it. It shows character. Virtue. So, when every Republican stands tall to the pledge they made to Grover Norquist, it speaks loudly as a great lesson. When you give your word, you stick to it.
I only wish all those high-principled Republicans felt as honor-bound about the other pledge they made.
You know -- the one they swore to God about how they "will bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution of the United States and will "faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."
Me, I think swearing an oath to God that you will help protect your country and serve the best interests of all your constituents tops a pledge to Grover Norquist, but... hey, that's just me. Your mileage may differ.
After all, Grover Norquist did say, "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
The Constitution just starts, "We the People of the United States."
Okay, that's not fair.
Grover Norquist has also described the kind of government he has seen and does like. "You're looking at the history of the country for the first 120 years, up until Teddy Roosevelt..." For those of you without a flow-chart handy, that last good government he admires was 112 years ago. Before the iPod. Before television existed. Before the Model T automobile was invented. It was before even the first airplane flight. Before women-folk got the vote.
And in fairness, that opening of the U.S. Constitution does yammer on, "...in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare ..." well, you know. Blah, blah, blah.
So, that's the Grover Norquist who the entire Republican Party in Congress choose to support their pledge to, over that pesky oath to God Almighty they swore in the U.S. Constitution.
It's very basic. Keeping your pledge ensures you won't have a primary election challenge.
Hey, it's all a matter priorities. They told you theirs. And to be very clear, it's not you. And it's not the U.S. Constitution. Nor is it God. It's Grover Norquist. Who I guess is sort of the Republican equivalent of God.
Hey, honestly, Grover Norquist deserves his pledges. Just like any frat house or sorority.
Oh, sure, some will painfully try to suggest that Republicans in Congress are actually keeping their Constitutional oath they swore to God. They aren't, and a long laundry list explains why not, but let's make this simple -- for the sake of argument, let's say that they are keeping their oath to God, the Constitution and their duties.
The problem is that it's still taking second place to their pledge to Grover Norquist.
There's no way around that. With the massive budget deficit, and the vast majority of Americans saying they support raising taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans -- Republicans pushed the nation against financial crisis by insisting they Would Not Support raising those taxes. Would Not Raises taxes on the upper 2 percent, while holding the other 98 percent of Americans hostage. Would not. And the reason they've given is... they signed a pledge to Grover Norquist. And they would not break their Pledge.
Forget doing what's best for the country. Forget doing what will benefit 98 percent of Americans. Forget "promoting the general Welfare." No, that's pushed aside. First -- FIRST -- is that they made a pledge to Grover Norquist. To keep their jobs.
As Teddy Roosevelt often said, "Bully."
(And no, their reason is not because raising taxes will "jeopardize" the economy. It won't, and even the most conservative economists acknowledge that not raising taxes and hitting the Fiscal Cliff risks crushing the economy far more.)
And just to remind you, all that -- for the sake of argument -- is giving Republicans in Congress the benefit of the doubt. And looking at them in the best light.
By the way, it gets worse. Before every day that Congress is in session, those same Republicans make yet another pledge. Every single day.
Y'know, it's the one that starts, "I pledge allegiance to the flag." And ends, "...with liberty and justice for all."
Note: "For all" is hereby defined for Republicans as Grover Norquist.
That pledge, the one they make to Grover Norquist? That comes first. God and country? And you? Take a number.
The line forms at the rear.
And while you're waiting, just remember that in the end, after pushing the nation over the Fiscal Cliff towards economic disaster, enough Republicans did break their sacred "pledge" and voted to raise taxes. Because they knew they'd have to. Like they always knew they would.
Oh, well. So, much for respecting Republicans in Congress. It's a new year. A guy can hope...
Robert J. Elisberg's new novel, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge, is available in paperback and ebook edition.