Sunday, April 16, 2006

My Life As a Republican, Week 4: Vertigo

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Well, it’s my fourth week as a Republican, and I’ve got to say, it’s been harder than it looked at first.

Oh, I’m still down with the whole IOKIYAR (It’s Okay If You’re A Republican) thing, the principle which says you can do pretty much anything and your fellow Republicans will excuse it. But when it comes to matters of public policy, that doctrine is putting my mind through some pretty severe loop-the-loops.

For instance, just a few months ago, Democratic Congressman John Murtha suggested a pullback of combat troops from Iraq, leaving a “rapid reaction” force and an “over the horizon” detachment of Marines to deal with crises. In other words, Murtha, a former Marine himself, had gone soft. He wanted to “cut and run,” like some French pansy.

One of the party’s rising stars, Jean Schmidt, got up on the House floor and said she’d just talked with a Marine who wanted her to deliver a message to Murtha: “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” Of course, the whole “message” turned out to be totally fabricated; the Marine whom Schmidt quoted later said he’d never said any such thing. But why let truth get in the way of a good quote on the House floor?

But now, I open the paper, and lo and behold, one of our party’s leaders, the awesome former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is saying we should withdraw most of our forces from Iraq, leaving only a “small force behind similar to the postwar forces in Korea and Germany,” according to the Associated Press.

“It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003,” Gingrich recently said in a speech at the University of South Dakota. “We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it.”

So what’s a newly indoctrinated Republican to do? I mean, do I need to start slamming Newt as a coward and sneering that maybe he’d like to see Saddam back in power? Do I need to just pretend that the whole Murtha thing never existed?

Then my head got yanked around again by recent revelations in the ongoing investigation of who leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press. It seems that Lewis “Scooter” Libby testified that he got authorization to leak certain classified information about pre-Iraq-war intelligence, and that he’d got it from no less than the president and the vice president their own selves.

Libby didn’t say he got the green light specifically to expose a CIA agent, but the president and VP did want information leaked to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson regarding pre-war intelligence about WMDs.

This was confusing to me because of this quote from our president soon after the investigation began: “This is a town where a lot of people leak. And I’ve constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information.” And this: “I mean, when the classified information first seeped into the public, I called [congressional leaders] on the phone and said, ‘This can’t stand. We can’t have leaks of classified information. It’s not in our nation’s interest.’”

Now the president apparently says that, oh, it’s OK, because he’d “declassified” the information in order to leak it, which he, as president, can do for reasons of national security. “I wanted people to see the truth and thought it made sense for people to see the truth,” Bush said during a recent appearance.

Fair enough. As a Republican, it’s important for me to believe that the president has unlimited power, at least so long as the president is a member of the Party. But knowing that the president has that power only deepens my confusion, because, if he’d “declassified” it so people could “see the truth,” then why leak it, especially when you’ve said publicly you don’t like leaks?

Why not just call a press conference, or have Scotty McLellan read it out from the podium during the press briefing? Why this back-channel stuff to The New York Times? I mean, I’m experiencing some serious mental vertigo here.

So let me ask the more experienced members of the party: Is this level of confusion and disorientation normal? Is there, maybe, some sort of newsletter or memo that I’m not getting that tells us how to deal with stuff like this? Is there some technique you guys use to blot out all memory of statements previously made in the strongest possible terms by members of the party, statements that now apparently mean nothing?

Is it like a Zen thing, where we learn through meditation and mental discipline to just live in an eternal Now? Or is there some operation we can have to remove our long-term memory entirely?

Somebody let me know, because I’m not sure how much longer I can keep on like this.


Anonymous said...

This is as good as anything that I have read in a blog in quite some time.

So good in fact that I have added your blog to our list of quality blogs

You keep writing My Life as a Republican and I'll keep reading.


Anonymous said...

It's amazing no one told you Republicans no longer exist. Clinton had them all destroyed. Neocon is their new name. Its alot like the movie 'Matrix.' Neo, 'the one.' It is a bad joke because they really don't exist.

Sandra Ruttan said...

JD, sadly, I think this is normal of politics party to party, country to country.

People say whatever suits them at the time. Popular opinion shifts and whoosh, so does policy.

I'm not sure if it would be fair to say that the only absolute in politics is that your opposition is always wrong, but that seems to be the philosophy.

I don't know enough about American party policies to offer more than my opinion on that, but I do find we get the same flip-flops here. For example, a lot of people hate the premier of my province (Ralph Klein) but I respect the man. He isn't perfect, he's done some rotten things. But everything he said he'd do when he first got elected, he's done.

Shocking, but true. A politician who shot off his mouth routinely and still essentially kept his word.

And that seems to be a pretty rare thing to see, which is why I haven't joined a party.

James Lincoln Warren said...

What a wimp you are. You whinge about holding mutually exclusive ideas as if it's a bad thing.

The principle of Doublethink is fundamental to our freedom, you cretin. You should know that by now. Otherwise, the terrorists win.

I mean, why else would a party dedicated to the absolute power of a single man call itself "Republican"?

Get over it, Dusty, before I have to come over there and kick your ass in name of peace.

Your buddy,

JD Rhoades said...

James: In this process of my initiation into the difficult mental disciplines of the Right, will you be my spiritual adviser, my guru, as it were?

James Lincoln Warren said...

Very flattering, but I can't possibly be your guru. That would require thinking about things, and that's sheer anathema to correct political philosophy.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I wasn't trying to drink something while reading this...would have ruined the computer. Great piece!!!

Anonymous said...

Just like Nancy Reagan said "Just say no (to being a Republican...)"
Time to give it up!
You tried.