Why can’t Washington follow the Golden Rule?

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‘Never look down on a man unless you’re picking him up’, is a phrase akin to the Golden Rule.

As the dark clouds loom over this cool Atlantic spring, I wonder if politicians in D.C and their adherents truly understand the meaning of the phrase?  In the meantime, so many of them are acting like a pack of wolves in the warming mist who smell the blood of an Obama presidency.  In this damp second season, the result will again be how little is done by a Congress who eats too well and sleeps too comfortably.

Has there been a president more attacked than Obama? Perhaps Lincoln.
Has there been a president more viciously attacked than Obama? Perhaps Lincoln.

Since this president’s inauguration in 2009, a specific pack of GOP wolves has been ever hunting.  Beyond political differences, the pack has done little more than attempt in all ways to force their equal prey to a grinding, blinding halt.  In the hope that their prey trips up, renders itself immobile and surrenders its life, the wolves have worked as if by instinct alone as their greatest strength.

To be sure, the Democrats have used the same tactics on Republican administrations in the past.  The confirmation hearing of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 comes to mind.  Still, the scale of absolute refusal to aid anything this president has proposed in four plus years has this author wondering whether the good of the nation is still in the hearts of the GOP?

This latest round on the continuum began with the deaths of four Americans on September 11, 2012, at the hands of Islamic militants in Benghazi, Libya.  Then came the scandal created by the GOP over the administrations’ talking points after the event had taken place.  It’s been all hands on deck, calling the White House handling of press releases ‘pure politics’ in advance of last November’s election.  Yet, as then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during one Congressional hearing about events after the four deaths in Benghazi, ‘what does it matter?’

Now, two other miscues at the hands of two federal agencies have given the GOP the fuel, or blood, they have been hunting for lo these many years.  And why?  President Obama is simply not their guy.

To be clear, while such incidents happened in varying form during the previous Bush administration, neither of the two recent agency miscues are good for Americans.

The Justice Department acted to cull phone records from reporters at the Associated Press as part of their program to eliminate leaks from government.  Justice did this without clear authorization from all parties involved and constitutes at minimum, a breach of the reporters civil rights.  Still, the actions by the Justice Department may not yet be illegal.

irsThe Internal Revenue Service, during the period between 2010 and 2012, chose to focus on certain conservative or ‘tea party’ citizen groups in their attempts to attain non profit status for their service organizations.  That the Cincinnati office of the IRS focused on ‘tea party’ organizations is again a breach of public trust to be impartial and to scrutinize at random.  In the case, it seems the focus of the IRS was hardly random.

While the GOP seems to be taking the latter situation of IRS scrutiny on ‘tea party’ groups more seriously, the greater danger to Americans is with the access breach from Justice.  We know the Bush administration used similar tactics to ferret out leaks concerning their path to war in Iraq.  We also know they, unlike the Obama administration, chose to prosecute journalists rather than focus on problems within the ranks of paid government employees.  Either way, the surveillance of private citizens through access to their private, web based correspondence and records place all Americans in an uncharted realm of protection under the law.

In 2004, the NAACP was informed by the IRS that one of Julian Bond’s speeches as head of the Association might threaten its status as a non profit service organization.  To no ones surprise, he claimed his organization was being threatened by an administration whose policies he disagreed with.  Despite the often myopic tendencies of the tea party movement and the obtuse logic of the Citizens United case in 2009, under current law there is no excuse for the behavior at the IRS.

OpenSecrets.org_Even if employees were simply using tea party groups as a sample of how to treat so many new groups sprouting up as ‘non political’ service organizations because of Citizens United, there is still no excuse to single out any particular viewpoint.  Period.

A question for Congress remains.  How much of America’s money is being spent on political contests and why, especially in an era when most Americans household net worth is diminishing?

Both political parties claim each side uses any misstep by the other for political gain.  Both are correct.  The difference is the extremes to which the Republicans will currently go to unseat their opponents.

Republicans have claimed that Democratic ire over the war in Iraq was also pure politics.  They now claim the IRS and Justice Departments miscues are on par with Watergate.  Someone needs to go to jail, they say.  Teapot Dome anyone?  How about the Profumo Affair?

The war in Iraq was approved and undertaken based on a lie foisted on the American people by the Bush administration.  Even Democrats believed the lie, trusting that a sitting administration in the present day could not be so cavalier as to fit the facts to suit a political want when it came to war.  We all forgot the lessons of LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin incident from 1964, the result of which advanced our involvement in Vietnam.  The result this time around has been hundreds of thousands dead, with almost 5,000 being American.

Abu Ghraib prison abuse. (Wikipedia Commons)
Abu Ghraib prison abuse. (Wikipedia Commons)

The torture of Iraqi prisoners in a Baghdad prison by serving U.S. military women and men contravened our very mission as a republic that refutes such cruelties in war.  Donald Rumsfeld, then head of the Defense Department, seemed not to understand why that was or that serving Americans might be held accountable under articles of war.

Lastly, the use of taxpayer money for outsourced defense work in Iraq.  Giving no bid contracts to companies who had friends in the White House left us having to defend employees who answered to a CEO, not the Congress or the American people.

Only one person in the Bush administration, Scooter Libby, has been made to answer for his role in the buildup to war.  After Libby was found guilty of perjury, he was all but immediately pardoned.  No one since has had to answer for the lies, deaths or the taxpayer money wasted.

Some Democrats believe the treatment of President Obama by Republicans in Congress since 2009 is simply a reaction to his color.  Would it were so simple.  Indeed, it is a bigotry more venal.   It is a bigotry based on a lust for power.  Ideals or color have little to do with this form of bigotry.

It wouldn’t matter if the president were Hillary Clinton or this blue eyed author.  Theirs is a bigotry that says nothing will hinder us in our quest for power.  If President Obama said the sky were blue, the Republicans would said say ‘no, it’s gray and you’re a lying Commie sympathizing, pro Islamist enemy of middle class, Christian America’.

‘Deficits don’t matter’ were the words of Vice President Dick Cheney in 2002.  Indeed, this was true for Republicans during the previous administration as we went from surplus to deficit in eight years.  Yet, since President Obama took office in 2009, those same representatives in Congress now claim deficits are a mortal sin not to be left on our children.  What contrived bull.

There is a difference between a posturing for the media and truly accomplishing nothing for the American people.  A Republican administration handed the present one a deficit and an economy spiralling downward.  Since 2009, Republicans in Congress have spent more time attempting to render the Obama administration useless than allowing his policies to succeed or fail.  Meanwhile, Americans are growing ever poorer by the day.

From refusing presidential appointments to invented debt ceiling debates and threats to filibuster any Senate vote they might lose, the present Republican Party in Congress has shown its contempt for this president, their own elected offices and the Republic in general.  We didn’t need the unearthing of a recent note from the Heritage Foundation to tell us this was the case.  By their behavior, we already knew.






One thought on “Why can’t Washington follow the Golden Rule?

  • May 21, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Another great article, Rob; you have a keen insight, a very enjoyable writing style, and you don’t run from the difficult, hard to answer, (hard to follow!) times we’re living in. I had thought you were so focused on the Baltimore region, and the tragedy of what has happened to that city, that you were putting to much energy into the extremely disturbing and horribly sad news stories being covered on the national scene. But I can tell, you’ve got your eyes and ears open in those spheres as well. When do you find the time to tune it all out??


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