Remember that classic scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” in the deli where Meg Ryan does her realistic simulation of having an orgasm? Then the waitress goes up to the next table and asks the woman what she would like. The customer, nodding to the Meg Ryan character, replies, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
That line, my friends, sums up the GOP to a tee. Not only did Barack Obama win the last presidential election, but he won it big. How did the Republicans interpret this landslide? Only in the most superficial way they could. They thought if an African-American can take the Presidency so decisively, perhaps they too ought to have a black face in the upper echelons of their party, as if Obama’s dark complexion was the real substance behind his success. Despite their open hostility towards Obama, they wanted what the Democrats had. Thus, they appointed Michael Steele as head of the RNC. With an empty platform and a loathing for developing a relevant agenda, the GOP went strictly for the cosmetic approach. In return, they got a chief whose head is as empty and corrupt as is their organization. Steele’s recurring gaffes were embarrassing, yet the GOP allowed him to keep his job. Stupidity, laziness or perhaps a desire, a day late and a dollar short, to emulate President Obama (in skin color only)? While an obvious racism drives the Republicans in their incessant, across-the-boards attack of our President (it is the only interpretation that explains their total obstructionism), they nonetheless want the same thing, even if it just translates into getting back the power of office. Go ahead: try to convince me that the GOP has aligned themselves with the Tea Party for any reason other than to hone in on their traction at the polls.
To date, the GOP still has not put forth any innovative answers to the challenges that our country faces. Cutting taxes and lowering spending just won’t fly anymore. Nor will their inability to reconcile the slicing of social programs while supposedly protecting social security and Medicare, because that premise is a lie. Those two sides of the formula are incompatible with each other, both philosophically and fiscally. The GOP has historically been loyal to the wealthy and apathetic to the rest of us. Thus, which side of the formula, the lowering of taxes/spending or implementing the necessary social, economic and environmental standards, do you think they will throw to the wayside?
There is an idea that I have discussed before which has to do with getting an opponent, a party, or even a nation, to do the honorable thing. Force is not the answer. What IS the answer is that those that take the right, just and compassionate action must make those activities attractive enough so that the other side wants what we have, a la Sally and Harry. It is a moral issue, but too often it is fueled by personal and national gain instead of concern for the greater good. We have to make honor respectable again. The act of doing a good deed, to me, loses a lot of its intent if it is done in REACTION to an event, rather than in ANTICIPATION of that event. A day late and a dollar short is the phoniest approach there is. Need I remind you of the weak response the Republican administration offered to the Katrina victims, or their sheer ignoring of global climate warnings, or their disgust with our immigrants who want deserved documentation for doing our dirty work or their condemnation and denial of equal rights for gay soldiers yet, at the same time, their acceptance of the sacrifice of their lives for this country?
Just like the best teachers are those that expect excellence, so too the best leaders are those that want the best possible outcome for their constituents, not for themselves. One other issue that gets my goat is the GOP’s attempts to undermine our new health care reform. The attorneys general in over twenty states have filed suit to repeal the new legislation that requires every single American to purchase medical insurance. If the Republicans think this new law is such an infringement on state’s rights (Have you ever seen state’s rights invoked for cases other than restricting individual constitutional rights?), I wonder what their opinion is on hospitals and physicians providing care, which is the humanitarian thing to do, without being reimbursed by the uninsured? With provider facilities shutting their doors all across this country due to an inability to meet their overhead, thanks to rising costs in the face of declining revenues, the GOP must realize that this is surely the way to a total government takeover of our health system, which I believe is one of their favorite anathemas. Perhaps their next step will be to disallow medical treatment for those with no insurance. It hasn’t been suggested yet, but what other alternative do the Republicans have if millions of people continue to be uninsured? Over and over again, a day late and a dollar short.
Another example of the GOP being shortsighted is their midterm campaign strategy. The are totally focused on the fear and anger of the American people, mostly caused by our high unemployment rate. Here is the real news: the fear of total economic collapse, of a busted housing market, of the lack of a social safety net and of the lop-sided distribution of wealth is old news. That fear took hold over two years ago, although the anger is currently being mined to the max by the GOP and Tea party. Now is the time for solutions, but the GOP is once again a day late and a dollar short by dwelling on the fear instead of the fix.
So my friends, if the Democrats should lose the House and even the Senate, life will still go on. As Rachel Maddow said, things just aren’t that different from the way they were two years ago to expect a total reversal of political fortunes. There undoubtedly will be some changes, but I, for one, believe those realignments might be beneficial. For example, at least if we lose one chamber, President Obama can justify putting on his nasty, partisan face, without trying to accomplish a bi-partisanship that has been totally rejected by the GOP. No more false pretenses. Peter Baker of the New York Times has summed up that scenario perfectly: “in losing the midterms, there may be winning”:
Yes, Nancy Pelosi may just lose her leadership role. She will land on her feet, not to worry. She has been the most competent and loyal legislator of the last two years. Thus, the right-wing hatred of her. For a party that is systemically a day late and a dollar short, Pelosi is the exact antithesis of that model. Yet, in true Republican fashion, they still want what we have. Unfortunately, John Boehner is NOT what we have. He is too busy working on his tan, showing again that he is just like his party, i.e. a day late and a dollar short. Hasn’t he heard about skin cancer?
To conclude, I would bet the House, both literally and figuratively, that there is a great deal more risk in governing than campaigning. However, the potential rewards are likewise greater. The GOP can no longer ignore that, on the honorable path to national and international peace, prosperity and progress, their reliance on their perennial principle of a day late and a dollar short is just another barrier, a facade, a ruse and a lie. No pain, no gain. No guts, no glory.
Tags: "When Harry Met Sally" deli scene, GOP envy of Obama, GOP's attempt to repeal health care reform, GOP's emphasis on fear rather than fixes, making honor respectable again in politics, Michael Steele's bumbling, Nancy Pelosi's competence and loyalty