Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Republican liars and hypocrites

William Saletan spots an empty flightsuit:

The ultimate testament to Bush's manhood, supposedly, is the two wars he launched. As McCain put it, "He ordered American forces to Afghanistan" and "made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq." But the salient word in each of those boasts is the verb. Bush gives orders and makes decisions. He doesn't take personal risks. He never has.

I don't mean to be unfair to Bush. Vietnam was a lousy war. He wanted a way out, and he found it. But isn't it odd to see Republicans belittle the physical risks Kerry took in battle while exalting Bush's armchair wars and post-9/11 photo ops? Isn't it embarrassing to see Bob Dole, the GOP's previous presidential nominee, praise Bush's heroism while suggesting that Kerry's three combat wounds weren't bad enough to justify sending him home from Vietnam?

Watching the attacks on Kerry and the glorification of Bush reminds me of something Dole said in his speech to the Republican convention eight years ago. It was "demeaning to the nation," Dole argued, to be governed by people "who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned."

You tell me which of this year's presidential candidates that statement best describes.

Saletan's right, of course -- but he's talking about people who lack any capacity for embarrassment. For today's GOP, the end justifies the means -- and the end is hanging onto power at all costs. If lies and hypocrisy are the means, so be it. Look how many of Clinton's persecutors in the House got caught with their pants down: Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston. There were the last people on earth who should have been raising hell about extramarital sex -- but did that stop them? Hell, no.

Now you've got Dick ("Five Deferments") Cheney and George ("I Defended Galveston When it was Convenient to Show Up") Bush claiming that a bona fide war hero won't defend the nation. (Kerry kicked their asses on that subject Thursday night, and he needs to keep doing it.)

Republican hypocrisy knows no limits. As far as the GOP is concerned, there's one set of rules for Republicans, and another for the rest of us. They start the wars; the rest of us do the actual fighting (and sustain the casualties). They get the tax cuts; the rest of us get a larger share of the tax burden.

First, they opposed the 9/11 commission, but then they gave in and permitted it; first, they wouldn't testify before the commission, but then they caved under pressure and did so; first, they went to war over WMD, but when that turned out to be a lie, they shifted the rationale to "liberation"; first, Dubya wanted bin Laden "dead or alive," but now Osama bin Forgotten. And they insist that John Kerry's a "flip-flopper."

They're lying hypocrites, and we should call attention to that fact at every opportunity.


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