Regressive Hypocrisy (Yawn…) Again

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CommonDreams.org

Regressive Hypocrisy (Yawn…) Again

Hey, what time is it? Does anybody know? Is it one o'clock? Two? Six? Ten?

It doesn't matter. Whatever time of day it is, there is always one thing you can be assured of. You'll never have a shortage of regressive hypocrisy on your hands. You'll never have to deal with painful withdrawal symptoms.

Nobody does hypocrisy like the right in America. Nobody does it more shamelessly, more wantonly, or more promiscuously.

Speaking of which, for example, you can pretty much bet that any right wing freak -- whether playing with himself under the clergy's robes or dressed up in the politician's suit -- any one of them who preaches the loudest about matters of sexual morality is guaranteed to be the most twisted case when the cameras are switched off. Can you say "Ted Haggard"? "Newt Gingrich"? "Larry Craig"? "Wide stance"?

Lately, though, the regressive right has been setting all kinds of personal best records for astonishing levels of hypocrisy, ranging from the merely laughably buffoonish all the way to the sickeningly pernicious.

One of my favorites in the former category is the Neanderthal obsession with Barack Obama's use of a Teleprompter. I don't really quite get this, although perhaps it somehow makes them feel slightly better about having supported a president for eight years for whom proper English was a foreign language. But, lordy lord, talk about the ridiculous hypocrisy of this critique, over and beyond its absurdity (what, are we supposed to believe that Obama is really a dummy because he uses a Teleprompter?).

What makes this whole affair astonishingly hypocritical is the fact that Ronald Reagan did the same thing, only worse, in a low-tech fashion. Reagan almost never said anything in public without his ubiquitous 3 x 5 cue cards. Guests at the White House would sometimes be astonished that Reagan would stand there and exchange one on one small talk banter with them, reading off of cue cards. One time he even mistakenly pulled out last week's set of cards from his suit coat pocket, and blithely went along reading the wrong introductory comments to the guests assembled for a meeting. Needless to say, however, Reagan has since been turned into a virtual deity of the right. So isn't it a little rich that the same people who worship at the Throne of The Ron have a problem with the current president reading his speeches off a Teleprompter?

Another one that I like a lot is this silly trope that Obama is seeking to take over the country, à la Stalin. (Of course, given the president's clear socialistic tendencies, this one has an extra ring of plausibility.) Why do they say this? Because he is actually beginning to demand that corporations receiving bailout money use it properly, and make (often highly novel) intelligent decisions in exchange for being rescued with taxpayer funds. Is that arrogant or what? Shouldn't he really do what Bush did, and just give the banks hundreds of billions of dollars without any requirements for what they do with the money?

Again, here's another case where, just in its own right, stupidity abounds. But regressives are only getting started. Idiocy is a mere hors d'oeuvre. The truly fun part is the hypocrisy of it all. Remember how they wailed when George Bush shredded the Geneva Conventions and the Bill of Rights at Guantánamo? Remember how loudly they objected as W used over 1200 signing statements to write Congress out of the legislative loop, thus destroying separation of powers, pretty much the most prominent single idea in the Constitution? Remember how angry they were recently when it was revealed that John Yoo and others had penned legal memos allowing the president to do absolutely anything, including shutting down the press, and arresting anyone, for any reason, any time, without any guarantees of any sort of due process? Remember how the right screamed and hollered and shouted at those massive assaults on American liberty by the former president?

You don't...? Neither do I. Maybe they just missed the whole thing. Maybe they're not really such massive hypocrites for going after Obama, after all, because Fox and the rest of the Crawl Under Media oddly somehow just forgot to carry those stories.

Another great one concerns the filibuster. Apart from when Anthony Kennedy sometimes loses his mind and casts his vote with the Supreme Court's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the filibuster is the only remaining shred of power the right wing holds in Washington today. Over the last two years they've used it more than any other time in American history, and they're holding on to it tenaciously, even as we speak. This has caused Democrats, who have been given about as fat a mandate to govern as one might expect during even somewhat normal times, to play around with the idea of using the budget reconciliation process to enact legislation by simple majority vote in the Senate, thus bypassing the opportunity for a small minority of one house of one branch of the United States government to hold the entire rest of the thing hostage.

This has Republicans all in a tizzy. Judd Gregg, who has been working overtime lately to embarrass himself and his party, lamented out loud that "it is not appropriate to use reconciliation, which cuts off the role of the Senate, on something as broad and expansive as rewriting the healthcare laws of this country". Just one small problem, though. Republicans did this all the time when they were in the majority. Indeed, when they were trying to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, Gregg himself objected strenuously to Democratic Party attempts to use the filibuster, and happily extolled the great virtues of using the reconciliation process. Back then he was quite clear on the matter, and quite emphatic: "We are using the rules of the Senate here. Is there something wrong with majority rule? I don't think so."

I don't either. And, therefore, you gotta hand it to these guys, don't you think? They have such high entertainment value that - if only they could be maintained permanently in the (super)minority - it would be worth it to keep them around just for shits and giggles.

Truly my favorite form of regressive hypocrisy on the current horizon, however, has to do with their shrill and vociferous shrieks about outrageous levels of government spending under the new Obama administration. They are really, really upset. Mind you, purely on behalf of the average American taxpayer, of course. They are outraged, and they don't mind saying so.

And who could blame them? This is, after all, the party and the ideology of fiscal discipline. We've been told this countless times, so surely it must be true. Unlike those drunken sailors in the Democratic Party, whose tax-and-spend policies bankrupt America at every turn, borrow-and-spend regressives run up fantastically larger deficits and pass them on to our kids. And what for? Only important stuff like funding giant tax breaks for the already outrageously wealthy and paying for wars based on lies.

So why wouldn't they be furious at those socialists (like Wall Street flacks such as Timothy Geithner or Larry Summers) who've taken over the Democratic Party? Those guys are actually using some of the money to build schools and improve healthcare, rather than building a bridge to nowhere or whacking yet another Middle Eastern country.

And how utterly embarrassing it is that the administration is throwing gobs of stimulus money around in an attempt to try to spend our way out of the worst recession America has experienced since that last great run of Republican rule came a cropper under Herbert Hoover?

Since every extra dollar of stimulus money is another mark of shame for the ruling party of the last decade, far better to take a little trip down Hypocrisy Lane instead, eh?

How else can you describe the GOP bitching about overspending to rescue an economy they created that's so bad it makes sewage processing plants smell like perfume in comparison?

How else can you explain them moaning like stuck pigs when Obama does precisely what Bush did in applying the paddles of stimulus and bailout to this near corpse, and yelling "Clear"?

How else would one account for a party that inherits the greatest surplus in American history, turns it into the greatest deficit ever, doubles the size of the national debt, drives the economy into the ditch, and then whines about spending too much, despite that that is the only possible remaining hope of reviving the casualty they made?

What else can you make of a party that is so committed to saying "No!" that it actually created an alternative budget without, um, er, any... uh, numbers?

What can you possibly say to this?

What I'd say is that these guys have raised hypocrisy to an art form.

And what I'd say is that they've done so because their only other alternative is to go sit in the corner, sniveling in shame for what they've wrought, and shutting the hell up.

I do wish they'd consider going with that latter choice, though.

Hey guys, if we cut taxes on millionaires even further, would you reconsider?

David Michael Green

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

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