How will the Republicans govern if they win back legislative majorities in the U.S. House and Senate this coming November?
Look no further than Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele’s disingenuous comment about U.S. military action in Afghanistan as a “war of Obama’s choosing” and U.S. Rep. Joe Barton’s sycophant-like apology to BP because the White House simply held the oil company accountable for its Gulf oil leak.
Obviously, both comments drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, but don’t get fooled by GOP posturing and calculation. In general, the GOP will continue to rely on distortions, if not outright lies, to make their case to voters, and they will also grovel at the feet of corporations in order to fund campaigns of deceit. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allows corporations to spend as much as they want in federal campaigns.
This should be nothing new to Americans, who under the gruesome Bush years were faced with lies, distortions and propaganda from leading political figures. It’s the reason the Republicans were voted out of office two years ago, and it should be the reason they should be denied legislative majorities this year as well. But will memory be enough as unemployment remains high, the economy remains dismal and corporations take over the political process?
Steele’s comments were simply incorrigible or show a basic lack of knowledge. Speaking at a fundraiser, Steele said, “This was a war of Obama’s choosing. This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” For the record, and it seems absurd to even have to state this, it was President George Bush who started military actions in Afghanistan some nine long years ago. Does Steele not remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001? The events of that day are what prompted Bush to begin military action in Afghanistan. Obama didn’t “choose” the occupation. He inherited it. What’s next? Is Steele going to blame Obama for invading Iraq? No doubt.
Supposedly, many prominent Republicans are against imposing any White House deadline for the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, but here’s the leader of the RNC lying about the occupation’s origin and calling the military action unwinnable. Is Steele that off message from Republicans leaders or is it calculation?
Polls show declining support for military action in Iraq and Afghanistan so Steele, who is not running for office, can appease the libertarian wing (U.S. Rep. Ron Paul praised Steele for his remarks) of the party with this outrageous distortion and outright rejection of military action in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two Republican war hawks, can criticize the remarks-which they did-and appease GOP war supporters. In other words, it could well be a political ploy, which mocks historical reality even at it gives cover to the nation’s most staunch warmongers.
Even if Steele “resigns” for his latest gaffe, his distortion will have served its political purpose.
Barton’s apology to BP is another case in which ultra-conservatives can feel appeased because someone is calling out Obama for a supposed anti-corporate/big-government bias as other “rational” Republicans criticize the remarks. Here’s Barton’s apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward after the company agreed to set aside at least $20 billion for the damages caused by its deep-sea Gulf oil leak:
I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion shakedown.
Remember, again, that corporations have no limit on campaign funding. Barton’s apology is simply stating a basic code: Corporations, give GOP candidates money because they will do you bidding and even apologize when you cause immense damage to people’s lives and the environment. Again, viewed as a political strategy, the remarks can be construed as having a clear fundraising purpose.
If Republicans come charging back in November, they will bring with them the same lying and disingenuous political arguments of the dark Bush years, and they will continue, along with conservative Democrats, to allow corporations to dictate public policy. This isn’t freedom, a word so many Republicans throw around so flippantly. This is a dead ideology that a majority of Americans were able to see through once and can easily see through again.