By Ed Gross
Although you might not guess it if you’ve read other columns of mine, I like nothing better than to make people laugh. I love humor of all kinds. I enjoy Andy Borowitz’s fake news columns and I’m an avid reader of Tom Toles’ political cartoons in the Washing ton Post. So I certainly have a taste for political humor. That’s why I think it’s so important to go on record as saying that I have a three-word reaction to the Republican candidates for president: this isn’t funny! Ridiculous, in many ways, but definitely not funny. Who can listen to Herman Cain or Michelle Bachmann for more than a minute or two without seeing the absurdity? But one of the Bozos* currently running will be the Republicans’ nominee and, as much as it pains me to contemplate it, that person might win.
I thought Nixon was contemptible and Reagan was a much worse president. It seemed we had set the bar for being president as low as it would go in order to accommodate George W. – and I don’t mean Washington. But it looks as though Republican primary voters will happily dig a hole if that’s what it takes to drop that bar lower. How did we get to the point where one of our two major political parties is on the brink of total irresponsibility? A harsh assessment, you say. Easily justified, I reply.
Let’s start with the willingness of Republican presidential contenders (the overlooked Huntsman excepted) to ignore science and roll the dice with the future of the planet by claiming not to believe in climate change. We could end there, too, and in more ways than one. Even if someone told you that there was only a 5% chance that going green was necessary to save the planet, wouldn’t you do it? What possible excuse could you come up with for risking everything? And being in the pocket of big oil for your personal financial gain doesn’t count. If you can’t think of any other possible excuse, that makes two of us.
Of course, as with Bush, we’re dealing with faith-based rather than reality-based candidates. Their desire to appeal to the fundamentalist wing of their party has convinced them to throw science out the window and under the bus. Let’s teach intelligent design because the religious right is uncomfortable with evolution. Let’s throw history out, too, for that matter, if you think FDR accomplished great things or worry that Reagan started us on the path to third-world-type income inequality.
In view of the economic collapse and near depression at the end of the Bush administration, what could be more irresponsible than an unwavering insistence that what this country needs is more tax cuts for the wealthy and less regulation for business? I refuse to believe that Republican presidential candidates can’t see that they’re demanding more of exactly what caused our miserable economic situation in the first place. That leads me inescapably to the conclusion that they just don’t care what’s best for the country. And that’s almost as hard to believe.
I better stop writing in this vein before we all need anti-depressants to get out of bed in the morning. Let me end, instead, with a glimmer of hope. While I have many reservations about Obama, he’s obviously so much more interested in solving our country’s problems than Mitt and the Republican clowns that I have to believe Americans will wake up in time to re-elect him. What’s more, I honestly believe the Occupy movement is raising the volume of that wake-up call. Their ability to focus attention on the country’s inexcusable economic inequality is the best reason I’ve found to be hopeful politically since Congress forced Nixon to resign. That’s a very long time ago although you could argue that it represents another low bar.
*I’ll exempt Mitt Romney, because he looks and sounds like a serious politician, who has a history of reasonable policies although they do stand in contrast to many he’s espousing currently.