I Should Never Have Turned On The TV

November 29, 2007

I should know better.  Really I should.  When have I ever found watching Republicans debate amongst themselves anything other than infuriating?  And yet there I was, turning on the tube to watch them go at it.  Maybe I hoped that people would listen to them.  I mean really listen, so that they might hear how unbelievably ridiculous these men sound.  

I know.  I should know better.

They all tick me off, whether it’s Rudy — America’s Mayor?  Puhlease! — lisping his way through another gratuitous attack on Hillary; or Mitt sounding like a snake oil salesman; or Fred “aw shucks”-ing his way through another bungled answer, trying desperately to sound like a Tennessee farmer instead of a millionaire Hollywood actor (we all know how much the GOP base LOVES millionaire Hollywood actors); or John McCain trying once more to justify his devotion to this tragic and obscene war.

But the thing that really ticked me off last night was Mike Huckabee’s big applause line about doing away with the IRS.  First off all, let me say that as a self-employed writer who has complicated tax returns every year, I’ve had a good deal of contact with the IRS through their help line.  Every person I’ve ever spoken with there has been friendly, helpful, professional, and knowledgeable.  These people haven’t hurt anyone.  They work thankless jobs in an agency that is universally reviled.  Second, what do you plan to do there, Mike?  If you’re going to eliminate the IRS does that mean that you’re going to do away with all domestic sources of government revenue?  No more taxes at all, is that what you’re proposing?  How are you going to pay for this war that you support?  How are you going to maintain the interstates that run through Arkansas?  Will you be in the towers at the nation’s airports keeping air traffic running smoothly and safely?   You planning to do away with Head Start?  Social Security?  Medicare and Medicaid?  Farm Subsidies?  (That’ll go over real well with the good people in your home state, not to mention all those caucus-goers in Iowa.)

Right.  I thought so.  So when you say that you’ll do away with the IRS, that’s just an applause line, isn’t it?  Because you know you can’t really do it, or, if you do, you’ll have to come up with a brand new agency, one with a more benign name, no doubt — how about  Internal Management Agency for Revenue and Taxation (IM*A*RAT)? — but one that does exactly the same thing that the IRS does now.  

Actually, the amazing thing isn’t that he said it — he might be a former preacher, but first and foremost, he’s a politician — but rather that people clapped.  Can they really be that naive?

Is this country a fiscal mess?  Of course it is.  But don’t blame the IRS, Mike.  Blame George Bush.  He’s the one who squandered the budget surpluses that he inherited from Bill Clinton.  Are well-paying jobs harder to find these days than at any time in the last twenty years?  Yes, they are.  But don’t blame illegal immigrants, Tom Tancredo.  Blame the multinationals that export those jobs as cost cutting measures and then pass along multi-million dollar bonuses to their CEOs.  And blame the allies of those corporations in Congress who built outsourcing incentives into our tax code.  Is government too intrusive?  Maybe.  But don’t blame “big government liberals,” Ron Paul, not unless you’re willing to admit that government has no business telling my wife or my sister or my daughters what they can and can’t do with their own bodies.

And one more thing.  Why is it that all these flag-waving GOP patriots, who love our country so much, are unwilling to bear any of the costs of the freedom they’re so eager to use as a bumper sticker slogan?  Do any of these men have children serving in Iraq?  With the notable exception of John McCain, did any of them serve in Vietnam or any other foreign conflict?  Does it ever occur to any of them that living in this country is a privilege, and that paying taxes to make certain that others can afford medical care and education and food and shelter and all the other things that they take for granted is a small price to pay for that privilege?  When they use patriotic rhetoric in their TV ads and pamphlets do they actually believe a word of it?

If you listen closely to what the Republicans had to say last night — or any other debate night for that matter — you hear the same thing again and again.  “If your life is not going the way you want it to, if you’ve lost your job or taken a pay cut or lost your health insurance or had a falling out with your teenager, here are the people you should blame.”  [Insert favorite scapegoat here:  Hillary?  IRS?  Illegal immigrant?  Other racial or cultural minority?  Homosexuals?]

I suppose that’s a great way to win an election, but it’s certainly no way to run a nation that is desperate for true leadership.

No music today.  Just outrage.


6 Responses to “I Should Never Have Turned On The TV”

  1. Brian said

    While trying to remain staunchly independent I find it amusing to read this continual rhetoric that is nothing more than Republican bashing and Bush hating!

    Why not offer something insightful to readers? The end of your rambling article seems to imply that Republicans are blaming Homosexuals and minorities for the nations ills. That is simply untrue and unfair to state!

    Were you conscious in the 90’s during the Clinton era? Are you not aware that the crashing market of early 2000 was a direct result of failed policies that his administration supported that allowed for the creation of corruption such as we experienced with Enron not to mention the entire dotcom hype and hysteria. It was a golden era built on a house of cards doomed to collapse and I think we can safely blame every politician on both sides and even moreso ourselves for not voting the idiots out of office altogether.

    Please submit thoughtful and intelligent postings in the future and not ridiculous rhetoric.

  2. davidbcoe said

    That was “staunchly independent”?

    Anyone who can listen to GOP rhetoric on illegal immigration and not come to the conclusion that Republican politicians are scapegoating undocumented aliens for the nation’s economic woes, simply isn’t listening, or is too partisan to recognize the truth. The rhetoric on illegal immigration the other night was vitriolic and was designed to further the right-wing frenzy over this issue already being fed by idiots like Lou Dobbs. The Republican’s think that this issue is the key to overcoming all the problems they face going into ’08, and they’re determined to fire up the base by demonizing undocumented workers.

    Furthermore (and I would recommend that you read Thomas Frank’s WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS) for years now the GOP has overcome the fact that their economic policies are decidely biased toward the wealthy few by appealing to middle class voters with wedge issues like abortion and an assault on the rights of gays and lesbians. They, in effect, convince voters to vote against their economic interests by bashing gays and, yes, blaming them for the “decline of morality” in this country. I shouldn’t even have to point out the irony of using such an immoral tactic to bolster “morality.”

    As for the Clinton years, I never said that they were perfect, and I agree that the building and bursting of the economic bubble of the ’90s was due in part to irresponsible politicians on both sides of the aisle turning a blind eye to reckless corporate behavior (Enron is the perfect example). But the behavior of the stock market is only tangentially related to economic reality, much less specific presidential policies. I don’t believe you can blame Bill Clinton for all that happened in the markets in 2000, any more than you can credit Bush for the fact that the markets are up this year despite the deficits, the collapse of the dollar, etc. Once upon a time, the performance of the Dow was a fairly accurate reflection of the state of the national economy. That hasn’t been the case for some time. The markets now are all about corporate culture and have little to do with what’s happening on main street.

    Finally, I want to say that I appreciate the comment and I was happy to approve it for viewing on my blog. I posted what I did hoping to spur discussion. I welcome more of your comments. But please don’t presume to tell me what I should and shouldn’t post on my own blog, and don’t dismiss my post as “ridiculous rhetoric.” You disagree with me? Fine. But let’s keep the discussion civil.

  3. Mark said

    Hey Mr. Coe,

    While I disagree with your assessment about Republicans (at least the majority of them), I will say that you have every right to publish whatever you want on your blog. This isn’t Communist China (yet?).

    Nashville, TN

  4. davidbcoe said

    Thanks, Mark. I don’t think Bryan was really trying to censure me, so much as say that he disapproved of my post. And that’s fine. As I say, I’m looking for a dialog. I think I should also say that I was angry when I posted, and that’s not always such a good idea. I didn’t mean to imply that all rank and file Republicans are prejudiced or are scapegoating. Not at all. But I do feel that the rhetoric coming from the current crop of GOP candidates is trending in a disturbing direction. Then again, the current crop of Democratic candidates isn’t exactly making me proud either….

    Again, thanks for the comment.

  5. Mark said

    Being a conservative (not nessecarily always Republican) I am not totally thrilled with the Republicans at this point either. The only ones I see worth voting for would be either Duncan Hunter or Fred Thompson.

    Inyour original rant, you did doubt as to whether anyone of them served in active military besides McCain. It’s my understnading that Duncacn Hunter served in Vietnam as well.

    Thanks again!

    Nashville, TN

  6. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for correcting me on that score, Mark.

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