The GOP needs more than cosmetic surgery. It’s either showing signs of great health or is in crisis, or perhaps a little of both. The party controls both houses of Congress and is hitting historic highs in governorships and state legislatures. An array of bright, young, plausible Republican Presidents campaigns for the Oval Office—a far cry from 2012, when former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won largely because he seemed to be the only person who was truly up to the job.
The Republican establishment, as it works with Democrats to overcome challenges from GOP and independent voters dissatisfied with the course of events in America, confirms that it is part of the ruling class responsible for those events, and that it intends to push America further along that course. By its campaign for Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi’s senatorial primary, the GOP establishment removed all doubt about this.
A reporter for The Nation magazine looking for a partisan “color” story cornered me at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, asking what I thought of Chris Christie. I took the chance to remind his magazine’s audience that both parties in American politics have been adopting similar habits of lawlessness, and that continuing to confirm those habits has dire consequences.
President Obama’s claim of executive omnipotence (“I can do whatever I want”) merely brought attention to the constitution under which we have been living: The chief, and those whom he appoints directly and indirectly, are not obliged to any law. Congressmen and senators too, free from votes for which they can be held responsible, can enjoy their rank among brokers of the profit and prestige, of the Trillions, which the modern administrative state dispenses. Obligations exist only among this vast public sector’s functionaries and beneficiaries — the ruling class.
A New Year’s wake-up call from the International Business Times: “In their annual End of Year poll, researchers for WIN and Gallup International surveyed more than 66,000 people across 65 nations and found that 24 percent of all respondents answered that the United States “is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” Pakistan and China fell significantly behind the United States on the poll, with 8 and 6 percent, respectively. Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and North Korea all tied for fourth place with 4 percent.”
This confirms what international travelers sense: whereas not so long ago foreigners saw Americans as the embodiment of peace and freedom, a plurality now see us as a source of trouble for themselves. For more people than not, being on America’s side now means being on the side of trouble. Why? And what is that to us?
Yet again, for the nth time, Republican Congressional leaders and their Democrat counterparts produced a Trillion dollar, multi-thousand-page spending bill that was voted immediately after being unveiled, without having been read. Republican 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan authored the latest edition along with Democratic Senator Patti Murray. Republican leader John Boehner preempted Democrats by preemptively accusing Republicans who opposed the bill of wanting to shut down the government. He topped off this feat of leadership by declaring political war on the conservatives who had given Republicans the majority that had made him Speaker of the House – a war that Republican leaders cannot sustain.
All Republicans say they oppose Obamacare and vie to call it bad names. But while some will not vote for any bill that appropriates money for it, the Republican Establishment’s leaders in Congress are poised to vote to save its funding. They call the Republicans committed to de-funding Obamacare worse names than they call Obamacare itself, as do The Wall Street Journal and Fox News.
If accounts of Barack Obama’s and John Boehner’s doings during the week of September 9 had appeared in the parody newspaper The Onion, they would have been occasion for laughter. But since the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House really did transact the nation’s business with laughably low levels of intelligence and integrity, the past week’s events sadly confirm the quality of elites that our ruling class’ Democratic and Republican wings promote and produce.
Editor’s note: This is the second post of a two part series on the NSA surveillance program.
By a bipartisan vote of 217 to 205 the House of Representatives refused to cut back on the government’s collection of electronic data on all Americans. The media’s spin, that both parties’ moderates had joined narrowly to defeat their own extremists, mistakes a remarkable reality. First, the people’s representatives voted against the majority of the American people’s sentiments – again. Second, they voted according to their connection with the ruling class rather than because of any extremism or moderation.
Russia offers asylum to Edward Snowden, who publicized the extent of the U.S. government’s domestic espionage, thereby presuming to teach America a lesson about civil liberties. Iran demands that the U.S. government secure justice for Trayvon Martin, (whose death a jury ruled to have resulted from self defense), thereby presuming to teach us about tolerance of minorities. The ludicrous character of these gratuitous demarches highlights the contempt for America from which they flow.
In international affairs, contempt is highly dangerous. The sense that a nation may be outraged without serious consequence has always been the sine qua non of war.