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By David Podvin
All human beings experience bursts of activity and lull periods, and so it is true of evil people. This year has been a particularly fertile time of achievement for American conservatives, who in ways both great and small have repeatedly demonstrated that being malicious is what they do better than anyone else.
Right-wing Senator Zell Miller delivered a malevolent tirade at the Republican Convention that was more instructive in the response it received than in the message it delivered. Miller’s diatribe basically divided Americans into conservatives and traitors; the seething Confederate rant must have had Bull Connor turning cartwheels in hell. It certainly created ecstasy among modern day fascists because, as Charles Krauthammer observed, “Miller expressed the deeply held belief shared by all us conservatives,” that belief being that liberals are seditious scum.
Contending that progressives are a menace is not an intrinsically counterfeit argument if it can be supported by facts, but Miller was so bereft of factual support for his premise that in order to make the case he resorted to using innuendo and distortion and sophistry and lies. Those who assert that conservatives are rotten face a far more daunting challenge - editing a plethora of factually supported material into a presentation of reasonable length.
The Republican Congress has been especially rank this year, lavishing ever-more goodies on the rich while finding increasingly devious ways to screw the non-rich. There have been additional “growth oriented” tax cuts for corporations accompanied by “fiscally responsible” reductions in essential services to the middle class, the poor, the sick, and the elderly. The GOP punished terrorists by further confiscating the rights of law-abiding citizens, socked it to violent criminals by reducing funding for law enforcement, and put industrial polluters on notice by making it harder for the federal government to prosecute them. Conservatives diverted their attention from defiling America just long enough to protect the nation’s virtue by waging an all-out assault on Janet Jackson’s right teat.
When GOP Imperial Wizard Tom DeLay was caught repeatedly violating House rules, Republicans preserved his power by threatening to destroy their own Ethics committee chairman, Joel Hefley (R-CO). As they had during the stolen 2000 presidential election, conservatives nationwide watched the deliberate subversion of democracy with nary an objection.
A most revealing example of right wing moral squalor was the successful Senate Republican effort to shelve a resolution honoring the late Christopher Reeve. The motivation for this act of superhuman gracelessness was a feeling among conservatives that Reeve had been just a little too vocal in advocating that embryonic stem cell research should be accelerated to aid people suffering from dread afflictions. Wheelchair boy had rolled out of line, so vigilant right-wingers slapped him down, albeit posthumously and anonymously. There may have been a more gratuitously spiteful action in recent American history, but this one captures the very essence of the GOP.
So does the systematic torture sanctioned by the Bush administration in Iraqi prisons, on Guantanamo, and at undisclosed locations around the world. This is true conservatism unmasked: do something depraved, lie about it, and then do it again. All one needs to know about the scandal that shamed the United States in the eyes of everyone except American conservatives is that Brigadier General Ricardo S. Sanchez, who was in command of the torture chambers at the Al Ghraib prison, is about to be promoted as reward for a job well done.
Political campaigns always accentuate the profound family values that conservatives hold so dear. When it became apparent that John Kerry would be the Democratic presidential nominee, the Bush campaign immediately deployed surrogates to allege that the senator was cheating on his wife. This story was parroted by the right wing slime machine long after the alleged mistress categorically denied any sexual involvement with Kerry.
No one embraces patriotism and the military quite like Republicans, which has led them to accuse a three-time Purple Heart winner of lying about his war record. Conservatives have made their allegations without any substantiation and in direct contradiction of official Pentagon records. They also distributed a doctored photograph of Kerry shamelessly cavorting with Jane Fonda, the implication being that the senator conspires with subversives in his sick quest to destroy our nation. The Republican message is unmistakable: even a much-decorated Democratic war hero is inherently far too un-American to ever be allowed in the White House.
Kerry countered the GOP assault by instructing his staff not to criticize Bush for going AWOL during the Vietnam War. This pathetic sequence represents the disordered conservative/liberal relationship in a nutshell: conservatives treat liberals as though they are urinals, and liberals respond by coddling their tormentors.
Such license inevitably leads to things like nationally coordinated conservative efforts to prevent African Americans from casting ballots. Across the land of the free, Republicans are again shredding voter registration cards that come from the wrongly colored sections of town. The consequences of getting caught while debasing the electoral system appear to be nil, which is rarely an effective deterrent.
In a democracy, this kind of blatant corruption would never be tolerated. In a two party system, it just would not be allowed to occur. It is therefore reassuring to know that when America ultimately gains democracy and institutes a two party system, election fraud will quickly become a thing of the past.
And when democracy does belatedly arrive, perhaps the leader of the land will select judges who are not racists. Bush appointee Charles Pickering has received the enthusiastic backing of conservatives, although Republicans prefer to remain inscrutable about whether they back Pickering in spite of his decades-long campaign to persecute minorities or because of it. However, Antonin Scalia has said that he believes the 1964 Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional, and conservatives exalt him as a judicial paradigm, so their motives in supporting Pickering are crystal clear.
The Mary Cheney imbroglio is another of those petty incidents that demonstrates just how loathsome conservatives are. During the third presidential debate, Kerry made the mistake of identifying the openly gay daughter of Dick Cheney and his wife Lucretia Borgia as “one of God’s children”. Mrs. Cheney, who is on record as insisting that there was never mass murder of Native Americans or illegal internment of Asians, repudiated reality yet again and accused Kerry of being a “bad man” because he advocated equal rights for her daughter.
This was the cue that the corporate media had been patiently waiting to receive, that Al Gore moment when the Democratic nominee gets endlessly trashed for doing absolutely nothing wrong. On the airwaves and in print, Kerry was vilified as a Machiavellian sadist whose tormenting of poor little Mary disqualified him from living amongst civilized humans, much less fouling the Oval Office where a swell guy like George W. Bush should be. It was the Wellstone Memorial all over again as Republican puppeteers cynically manipulated their base of paranoid supporters into a pre-election frenzy.
Contrived right wing outrage has been accompanied by sincere right wing outrage: implacable conservative hatred of anyone who dissents from the party line. Whether it is Susan Sarandon or Michael Moore or the Dixie Chicks or Teresa Heinz Kerry, those Americans who speak out against the evil that is being perpetrated by right-wingers find themselves tarred as enemies of the state. In the aftermath of 9/11, perceptive citizens have noticed that Republicans are far more determined to stifle domestic dissent than to retaliate against Al-Qaida.
Joseph McCarthy was not an aberration – he faithfully represented the ideals of conservatives. They loved him then, and their ideological progeny love him still. Dissidents represent a threat to the country Republicans so cherish, which is not the United States of America, but a fantasyland in which the liberal peril has been forever vanquished.
Read the conservative Internet. Listen to right wing talk radio. There you will learn that America would be a truly glorious place if only the rich were not persecuted by the poor and men were not oppressed by women and blacks would stop subjugating whites and homosexuals would finally tolerate heterosexuals.
There is no law against being demented, but there should be a law against passively allowing those who are demented to run your country. Conservatives are vile people who win elections whenever their opponents are too cowardly to identify them as being vile. This regrettable scenario happens frequently. It may be happening right now, which is a shame because four years of George W. Bush is more than any sentient being should be forced to endure.
John Kerry has two weeks left to stop being likeable and start being effective. He must refuse to be put on the defensive by people who have no moral standing to judge him or anyone else. He must unapologetically identify conservatives as the reprobates they are. It is an approach that the corporate journalistic establishment truly hates, and that swing voters claim to hate, and that worked like a charm for FDR and Truman and Kennedy and Johnson and Clinton.
It is an approach that will work again, because when spoken with sufficient passion, even the truth can garner a majority.
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