Republican Whine Tasting

Hell hath no fury like a Republican morally undressed in public by the opposition. After Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation wrote the piece, “Republicans are Causing a Moral Crisis in America,” for the Washington Post, Republican operative and pundit Alex Castellanos objected that his party had been all but intellectually date-raped. He responded at Huffington by accusing vanden Heuvel of “bathing in moral superiority.” I would instruct Mr. Castellanos , once he has dispensed with his current party’s ideologically radical, economically feudalistic and morally fetid prescriptions for the country to come right in, the water is warm.

Castellanos indeed is an operative, and he was certainly operating on Huffington, doing the customary apparatchik infantry work of pushing along traditional Republican memes in the guise of an indignant defense against unscrupulous and unfair attack. He says, “Vanden Heuvel’s lack of respect for rival argument is one reason for the decline of critical debate in her magazine, The Nation. Her contempt for opposing views also explains why there is so little hope of bipartisan agreement in Washington.”  Stepping over the suspicion that accusing Obama of being a socialist and non-citizen may have had something to do with that, what causes one to laugh convulsively to the point of dialing 9-1-1 when reading this is the incidental fact that as a political gun-for-hire, Alex Castellanos is responsible for some of the most vicious politicking, and one of the most infamous and unashamedly racist political ads in the history of American politics.

The delicate Mr. Castellanos was behind the notorious “white hands” ad on behalf of Jesse Helms, always one to uplift critical debate at every opportunity, the ad showing a white man’s hands holding a job rejection letter as a seething, scornful voice says, “You needed that job. But they had to give it to a MINORITY,” then accusing Helms’ opponent, Harvey Gantt, who conveniently happened to be black of supporting “racial quotas” though he did no such thing.. The high-minded Mr.Castellanos also produced the RNC’s anti-Gore ad during the election of 2000 which fleetingly placed the word RATS beside a picture of Mr. Gore. Clever, huh? And certainly raising the quality of critical debate to heights yet undreamed.

Of course, Castellanos is far too jaded to actually be upset, squeezing out these crocodile tears part of his job description. The nice part about his offense as defense tack here though is the degree to which he unwittingly reiterates the reasons his party’s moral bearings are so suspect in the eyes of many Americans, and why the question of whether his party has any genuine concern for the economic well-being of the majority of America’s citizens, those not among the uppermost brackets to whom Republicans cater, cannot be put to rest.

Castellanos says, “Real love is not perpetuating another’s dependence. It is freeing them from it. Genuine moral compassion eventually risks detachment.” When you’ve finished laughing, it surely will be evident if you have even a modicum of familiarity with American history or modern politics that Republicans have spent over half a century criticizing the New Deal and Great Society safety net programs for their supposed flaws, and that the correct inference has been that half of America’s elderly living below the poverty line or unable to afford medical care wasn’t bothersome to Republicans since they never offered real proposals of their own, and simply carped at those enacted. One could say the same about Republicans’ indifference and inaction toward the health care miseries and costs troubling Americans and bedeviling the budget and the economy, having nothing positive to offer, only squalling out attacks when someone else finally tries to solve the problem, Democrats, as usual. I would suggest that if Americans really discerned the love and caring behind these positions Americans rightly would deem the Republican Party the party of true compassion and caring, something sure to happen around the time Kim Kardashian enters a monastery.

Castellanos also takes the opportunity to flash another macerated Republican chestnut, which is that contrary to actual budget numbers American budgetary munificence for the poor is bleeding the country into debt, neither he nor his party demonstrating any innovativeness in Republican scapegoating of America’s weakest over several decades now. He notes, “though vanden Heuvel has not spent herself into poverty for the benefit of those less fortunate, as has our federal government.” Of course, pretending the poor (and don’t forget minorities are a subtext here) are to blame for everything is inextricably twined with pretending Republicans actually care about the debt (insert guffaws), eliding the uncomfortable reality they’re the ones who jacked it up, not just this time, but over several decades, the last three Republican presidents doubling and tripling deficits, in one case even after a Democrat paid it down completely, and kindly provided his Republican successor a surplus. And of course none of this pretending is nearly as good unless followed by pretending that continually cutting taxes for the wealthiest and denying the nation necessary revenue isn’t the principal problem.

One of my favorite examples of equine fecal matter in his Castellonos Agonistes  is this: “When Republicans talk about the centrality of moral benchmarks in society, liberals often hear an expression of GOP self-righteousness. In the Grand Old Party, we see those standards as necessary but humbling measures of our imperfections, revealing how far and how often we fall short.” This is the scrubbed up way of saying “We’ll bray about moral values constantly for whatever political mileage we can manage out of it, but the last thing we would ever do is let such actual moral values interfere with successful politics or business ventures, where such high-mindedness has no place at all and is derided as being for suckers. And, it really doesn’t count as immoral anyhow: it’s compartmentalized, see? So if you notice we are fabulously lying without shame, or stigmatizing and demonizing or stereotyping segments of our fellow citizens or attempting to deny swaths of them their basic right to vote for instance, remember, it doesn’t really count: it’s politics.

The Huffington screed is a consultant’s workmanlike piece of misdirection and agitprop, though bittersweetly dipped as it is in the tragedy that Americans don’t understand how much Republicans really care, really, really care. I suppose it is Republicans’ indifference, cynicism, disingenuousness and actual policies that fooled them.

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