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In search of ... an honest republican.

8/5/04: I'm deep in the bowels of Safeco which U.S. Representative George Nethercutt (R-WA) has rented out to remind his fellow Washingtonians that he wants to be our next senator ...

Nethercutt is best known for reneging on his original campaign pledge to step down after three terms. He's now in his SIXTH term, thus inspiring the creation of a new verb: nethercutting ...

He's making his case for the Senate mainly by painting the incumbent, the quintessential "soccer mom" Patty Murray, as a borderline TRAITOR, while simultaneously grafting If onto The Troops ...

... SENATOR MURRAY HAS SHOWN TIME AND AGAIN THAT SHE HAS LITTLE REGARD FOR WASHINGTON STATE--OR FOR FAMILIES, OR FOR OUR YOUNG HEROES FIGHTING OVERSEAS ...

ZZZZZ ...

WHILE I CARE DEEPLY FOR OUR BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM, AS WELL AS FOR THE POOR PEOPLE OF WAR-TORN IRAQ ...

BUT, MR. CONGRESSMAN ...

... YOU STILL HAVEN'T TOLD US WHY YOU WON'T DEBATE YOUR REPUBLICAN OPPONENTS ... *

Aww! He cares about both the bombers AND the bombees! How nice of him to help bring them all together!

* It's because he doesn't have to, ya dummy!

Nethercutt's dark horse status meant a small media presence, which also meant that I got to spend a whopping two minutes talking to him one on one --though it fell more like I was being talked at ...

I'VE SEEN NO EVIDENCE THAT THE PATRIOT ACT HAS BEEN MISUSED ...

AND OF COURSE I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT THE DEFICIT, WHICH IS WHY I ROUTINELY VOTE FOR A BALANCED BUDGET ...

BUT AT TIMES OF WAR OTHER CONCERNS MUST TAKE PRECEDENCE ...

YES BUT, I ... UH ... ER ... OKAY.

Interviewing a seasoned politician is like being run over by a steamroller!

At that, the congressman gave me the requisite hearty handshake and trademark Republican polite-yet-condescending smile before rushing back to D.C. to vote yet again in favor of a "balanced budget" ...

WHAT A CREEP!

I felt like I had dropped the ball by not calling him on the BS he hurled at me, but I couldn't bring myself to get all up in his face about it, figuring I'd just make fun of him in this comic strip instead. Just call me a gonzo pussy!

My dad was a Republican. He was all about low taxes and smaller government, thongh he was what would later be called a "moderate" or "Northeast establishment" Republican--a group that became somewhat marginalized as the religious right first joined and then began to dominate the G.O.P...

... WE MUST RESIST THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO BAN GOD FROM OUR SCHOOLS ...

?

WHAT CAVE DID THIS HILLBILLY CRAWL OUT OF?

From that point on be held his nose and voted for the "lesser of two evils"--something he never felt he was doing when pulling the lever for the likes of Eisenhower and Goldwater.

These days, the only person who even pretends to believe that the GOP stands for a fiscally restrathed, "hands off" government is George Nethercutt's speechwriter. The question is, does anyone care? Do any Republicans care? Out of curiosity, I decided to ask a few of them myself ...

PLEASE, HAVE ALL THE CHEESCAKE YOU WANT, MR. BAGGE

DON'T BE SHY!

THANKSH! GOBBLE GOBBLE ...

I FEEL LIKE I'M IN "THE STEPFORD WIVES"! I LOVE IT!

THE CHAIRMAN WILL SEE YOU NOW, MR. BAGGE ...

... which is thr fiom a grim assignment, since right-wing gatherings tend to be far more pleasant and organized affairs than their perpetually frazzled left-wing counterparts. Plus they know that the best way to a journalist's brain is through his stomach!

Republicans also love to wallow in all sorts of AMERICANA, which can be quite charming, if not downright hilarious at times. It seems to be a pnint of pride that they outdo the Dems in the sheer number of Uncle-Sams-on-Stilts or pets dressed as patriots at all of their rallies ...

My all-time favorites were these two little kids dressed in animal costumes. The elephant reference was obvious, but who wss the kid in the FROG COSTUME supposed to represent? FRANCE, perhaps? I kept waiting for the elephant kid to beat up the frog kid as part of some political passion play, but no such luck.

One event that was sure to have plenty of such all-American cheese (as well as chccsecake) was this RNC-sponsored talk by the author of a book about the Founding Fathers, held in some slick suburban hotel. Being a Founding Fathers fetishist myself. I was there with bells on!

DON'T YOU THINK THE WORD "STATIST" APPLIES TO BUSH AS WELL?

HEY, THERE'S A WAR ON! WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?

BUT KERRY'D BE MUCH WORSE. KERRY SCARES ME.

In the parldng lot I met a Libertarian-turned-Republican who justified his support for Bush by his fear of what an "unabashed statist" like Kerry would do to the economy. Like a true conservative, he'd rather settle for our current mess than experience a new mess!

Once inside, I listened to a woman who was running for a county judge position do some campaigning. Since the big news that week concerned a Seattle judge who had recently ruled in favor of gay marriage, everyone wanted to hear her take on such egregious judicial "activism" ...

WOULD YOU BE AN ACTIVIST OR A CONSTITUTIONALIST JUDGE?

?!? ALL JUDGES ARE "CONSTITUTIONALIST"!

ARE YOU A STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST, THEN?

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!

She seemed both annoyed and confused by all the right-wing radio talking points being thrown at her, and when I later learned that she's a NARAL-endorsed trial lawyer, I had to wonder why she was even there.

Before the lecture began, we were all asked to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Now this is one bit of Americana I could do without, since being obliged to recite the Pledge always adds a suffocating air of oppressiveness to any occasion. I hate it!

... ONE NATION, UNDER GOD ...

HMM ... I WAS GOING TO BLOW THIS PLACE UP, BUT THIS RECITATION OF THE PLEDGE HAS MADE ME RECONSIDER ...

Yet these folks LOVE to recite the Pledge of Allegience! It seems to give them some kind of security, as if it were a magic spell to ward off evil. It's weird!

I was curious as to how Steven W. Allen, author of Founding Fathers: Uncommon Heroes, could also be a supporter of the all too common George W. Bush. I simply couldn't imagine how he could address the enormous intellectual chasm between his book's subjects and our current president ...

CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHERE THE DECLARATION WAS SIGNED?

LIBERTY HALL, IN PHILADELPHIA ...

VERY GOOD! IT'S NICE TO SEE SOME OF US REMEMBER OUR HISTORY ...

?!? AM I BEING "PUNK'D"?

The inclusion of that much overused and abused word heroes should have been a tip-off, however, since Allen's take on the Founders was insufferably school-marmish and sentimental. It was all God and Country and Mom's Apple Pie. I felt like I was in the second grade again, praying for the bell to ring.

The author also went way out of his way to downplay any controversy regarding the Founders' alleged indiscretions, while also insisting that all of them were lifelong, unwavering CHRISTIANS ...

... THE ONLY "PROOF" THAT JEFFERSON EVER WAVERED IN HIS FAITH WAS A TORN COPY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT FOUND IN HIS HOME AFTER HIS DEATH, AND THAT WAS IT!

AND THERE'S NO SOLID EVIDENCE THAT BENJAMIN FRANKLIN EVER SIRED AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD! IT'S ALL SPECULATION!

"WHEW!" THAT'S A RELIEF!

Sounding like the lawyer that he is. Allen apparently has moved to exclude the Founders' own writings as evidence, to avnid self-incrimination. "My clients plead the Fifth, your Honor!

Allen closed his PowerPoint presentation with a photo of President Bush signing 2002's hilariously titled "'Corporate Responsibility Act" ...

... IT'S THE PRESIDENT'S GOD-FEARING NATURE THAT INSPIRES HIM TO INSURE THAT SUCH FIASCOS AS THE ENRON SCANDAL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN ...

Once again my jaw was hitting the floor, since not only does this latest regulatory placebo represent the type of economic naivete ("let's criminalize irresponsibility!") that the Democrats are supposed to be so guilty of, but the people who perpetrated the very scandal Bush cited are among his very best friends! Still, everyone in the room nodded in approval. God bless George W. Bush!

Finally, the real purpose of this meeting manifested itself, as an energetic, hard-sell, Young Republican got up and started urging everyone to get out the vote. He also spoke optimistically about how Washington should be considered a "swing state" ...

... KERRY AND BUSH ARE NECK AND NECK IN THE POLLS--OUTSIDE OF SEATTLE, THAT IS ...

LET'S BURN SEATTLE DOWN!

THEY'VE COMMITTED TOO MANY SINS TO FORGIVE!

HAW!

HEY! I LIVE THERE, PAL!

This particular talking point, i.e.: don't let those commie faggots in Seattle give our state to Kerry, was immediately embraced by this room full of phone-tree organizers--a little TOO enthusiastically, in one case!

The speaker continued with more tips on how to sway fence-sitters ...

... AVOID TALKING ABOUT ABORTION OR GUN RIGHTS. TALK ABOUT TAXES INSTEAD ...

AND I.D. EVERYONE YOU TALK TO AS EITHER A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN ...

DON'T ASK THEM IF THEY'RE AN INDEPENDENT DO NOT GIVE THEM THAT OPTION!

He was speaking purely in pragmatic terms, of course, but his words also spoke volumes about our inherently flawed electoral system.

Ruth Bennett is a Libertarian candidate for governor of Washington state. As is the case with every other third-party candidate, Ruth strongly supports State initiative 318, which would implement IRV, or "instant runoff voting" (see www.irvwa.org for an explanation of exactly how it would work) ...

I.R.V. VOTING WOULD DO AWAY WITH A THIRD PARTY'S "SPOILER" STATUS, EHICH MEANS NO MORE PRESSURING A RALPH NADER INTO NOT EXERCISING HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS ...

IT ALSO WOULD ELIMINATE THE NEED FOR PRIMARY ELECTIONS, WHICH ARE A HUGE WASTE OF TAXES ANYWAY ...

Under this system, voters could chose not just one candidate for each office, but a second, third, and fourth favorite as well. That way, no vote could be considered "wasted." as all the second-place votes (and third and fourth-place votes, if necessary) are counted until one candidate has accumulated a majority.

I have no idea if IRV would succeed as advertised, but I'm more than willing to give it a shot--especially after hearing every Bush supporter I spoke to suppress any misgivings they might have about their candidate, in order to present a united front ...

PRESIDENT BUSH CARES ABOUT FAMILIES ...

WHY, JUST CONSIDER THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT ...

"NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT"?

WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS HILLARY CLINTON?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I didn't run into anyone who was openly horrified by our current GOP-controlled government's spendaholic ways and enthusiastic "nation building," since they're more likely to be found sitting at home cursing the TV than attending some dumbass "rally."

Then there's the War on Terror, which trumps everything to some folks. To them, it's wrong to question war at all while said war is being conducted--which, when you consider that this "war on terror" could go on forever, is a very frightening attitude indeed!

VOTING FOR BUSH IS OUT OF THE QUESTION! HE'S ANTI-CHOICE!

AND THE DEMOCRATS ARE ANTI-LIFE!

Add to that such nonnegotiable issues as Abortion and Gun Rights (as well as that latest great divider, Gay Marriage), and you're always going to run into a lot of folks with blinders on in both camps.

This "choose sides!" political system of ours forces people to check their brains at the door once they join one party or another. This is evident in the way they routinely draw completely different conclusions from the same set of facts, while simultaneously insisting that everyone who comes to the "wrong" conclusion has been "brainwashed" by "corrupt" media ...

THE MEDIA HAS AND OBVIOUS LEFT-WING BIAS!

CORPORATE CONSOLIDATION HAS TURNED THE PRESS INTO A MOUTHPIECE FOR THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

YOU'RE BOTH RIGHT! AND THAT'S WHY I'LL BE SPENDING THIS ENTIRE ELECTION DAY WATCHING MIDGET PORN!

It's no wonder so many Americans are entirely turned off by what passes for political discourse in this country. To the Major Party Faithful, the nonaligned are all guilty of being "misinformed" or "apathetic," but I'd say that turning a deaf ear to both sides' rhetoric may be the most intelligent political "stance" of all!

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
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Title Annotation:Culture and Reviews Comic
Author:Bagge, Peter
Publication:Reason
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Words:2051
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