First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Who's Brave and Who's a Hypocrite?
Item from the Washington Post on 8 November: "Democrats made clear today they will relentlessly compare the president's willingness to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defense and war, while he rejects much smaller increases for domestic spending." (From Washington Post.com article "Congress Hands Bush First Veto Override" by Jonathan Weisman.)
Let's ignore the fact that this is not actually a sentence -- I've committed errors like that myself. By the time you get to the end of a complex sentence, you forget how you began it. (Fortunately, our fearless editor at the Rhino usually catches my mistakes.)
What matters is what it says about the Democratic policy in this instance. Bush is ripped up one side and down the other by Democrats for his record deficits. But what they're declaring, according to this story, is that they believe he should spend more.
So ... in the middle of a war, these Congresspeople, who insist that they "support our troops," now characterize funding a Congressionally-approved war, which we are winning, as a personal whim of the President, while their pork-filled or ideologically-driven domestic spending is too important not to overfund it.
But they will still blame President Bush for the deficit -- even though they did not have to override his veto. Their free-spending choices are essential, while his support for our victorious military, in a war provoked by and relentlessly pursued by Islamic extremists, is not (in their view) a necessity.
The Democrats in Congress today are the most relentlessly partisan group I've ever seen or read about in American history (and it's not for lack of competition). They seem perfectly willing to tear down anything, as long as they think it can be blamed on Bush and thus might get them some votes. I have seen no instance of Democrats in Congress forgoing any partisan opportunity, no matter what it costs the public.
Weisman's article triumphantly points out that there have only been 107 veto overrides in history, giving the impression that Congress has done something unusual and perhaps brave, or that Bush has been handed an unusual "failure."
But think for a moment. Bush is only 14 months from the end of his second term, and this is his first veto override.
Furthermore, Weisman uses phrases like "well over the two-thirds majorities needed to defy Bush." It could just as easily have been stated: "well over the two-thirds majorities needed to add $23 billion to the federal deficit, despite Bush's attempt to defy Congress's overspending during a time of war."
Both phrases are opinions pretending to be news.
But my version is closer to the truth. It was Bush defying them by vetoing their little bill in the first place, even though he knew they could and probably would override the veto. Who's the brave one here? Not Congress.
That's just sad, Weisman choosing to slant the article to make Congress look brave for slapping down a low-polling President in the middle of a war.
I guess they're nostalgic for those eight years in the 1990s when Clinton gutted our nation's military capacity, refusing to fund our national Defense at levels that allowed military personnel to be paid enough to live on -- while maintaining such low stocks of weapons, ammunition, and other necessities that their ability to defend our nation was shockingly compromised.
They used to praise Clinton's brilliant economic performance, even though it was a Republican Congress that balanced the budget. Now, after six years of war, we are enjoying incredibly low interest rates and incredibly low unemployment ... and the Democrats still call Bush's presidency a "disaster" and keep talking about how much people are "suffering" in our economy, because their jobs aren't good enough!
After a while, you can't help but wonder whether there is any Democratic officeholder who still has any sense of rational shame -- i.e., one who would be too embarrassed to have such an obviously hypocritical double standard.
But don't give Republicans any credit for not having double standards. If Republicans are inconsistent to the tiniest degree, the national media is all over them, ripping them up one side and down the other. They'd probably be just as partisan, just as inconsistent, just as hypocritical, just as smugly dishonest -- if they could get away with it.
Democrats, however, can be as hypocritical and inconsistent as they like, and the press joins right in with them. I guess the mainstream media figure, "They may be irrational dolts, but they're our irrational dolts."
Thus the Democrats in Congress proceed with confidence, knowing they have Jonathan Weisman in the Washington Post to crow about their "triumph" without holding their feet to the fire in any way.
Way to go, Weisman. That's why the national media have credibility almost as low as Congress's. Or ... is it lower yet?
Meanwhile, those of us Democrats who actually aren't hypocrites and believe our officeholders should behave honestly and honorably ... well, aren't we just silly?
Don't we understand that, to the Leftaliban that now controls the public actions of the Democratic Party in Congress, "honor" and "honesty" are culturally relative terms that have no meaning in a post-decent society?
Of course, I'm holding their feet to the fire. But let's face it: My fire is so tiny it's not even a candle. More like a little LED flashlight.
But it's something. I do what I can do.
Who knows? Maybe someday the Democratic Party will recover its honor and be fit to govern America again.
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