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Pendulum swings to the left, thanks to the GOP

October 19, 2008 12:16 am

NOTHING warms my heart on a crisp autumn day like yet another veteran Republican explaining all that is wrong with the GOP. The list of issues is long.

The criticism, coming from moderate Republicans such as former State Sen. John Chichester and outgoing U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, suggests that the party has done itself no favors by harping on taxes and divisive social issues to the exclusion of so much else.

The good advice is coming a bit too late, though, and will probably bounce off most GOP hardheads anyway. Del. Jeffrey Frederick, R-Prince William, the Virginia GOP chairman, continues to spew such nonsense about Sen. Barack Obama's "friends" and ideas that his own party has told him to shut up. Speaking of unsavory relationships, he probably pals around in Prince William with the anachronistic Del. Bob Marshall.

In 16 days, voters will have the opportunity to repudiate these many years of Republican rule, and help put the nation back on track.

Troubles with each of the country's Big Five issues--the economy, the wars, health care, education, and the environment--can be traced to the GOP's control of the White House for 20 of the past 28 years. Why anyone would want to extend that I don't know.

The current economic crisis and the presidential election should close out an era that began with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981.

GOP CHANGE

We were relieved when the Cold War began to come to an end under President Reagan. But he also brought us tax-cut mania, trickle-down Reaganomics, deregulation, and record budget deficits.

When Reagan took office, his plan and cowboy demeanor were considered salve for a nation in turmoil. But the GOP refuses to understand that economic policies must change with the times.

The only respite we've had from tax cuts and federal deficits was during the Clinton administration. There was healthy economic growth along with a budget surplus. But Americans, apparently looking for utopia only two years into President Clinton's first term, were suckered by Newt Gingrich and his delusional Contract with America. Republicans took over Congress for the ensuing 14 years, regained the White House, and have brought America to its knees.

George W. Bush's tax breaks to rich corporations and individuals are cheating the middle class and poor out of a brighter future. Attempting to make those cuts permanent is insane. Basing an economy on them spells economic disaster. The proof is all around us.

I have long subscribed to the concept of the political pendulum, which prevents the nation from leaning too far to the right or left. Americans are finally realizing that they've let it swing to the right too far and for too long.

I don't wish humiliation on anyone, but the current administration has brought it upon itself. With the McCain-Palin ticket now grasping at straws, the party is acknowledging the need to overcome Bush's many "blunders." They will burden America for years to come.

He mishandled Katrina, underfunded his own education plan, and ignored the science of climate change.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

And then there is Iraq.

Like a used-car salesman with a leftover lemon--his father's unfinished business trip to Baghdad--President Bush sold a vengeful nation and its leaders on the need to go to war 5 years ago. How could he have been so wrong about something so important? Did he knowingly deceive himself, or just us? We now know that aside from its oil reserves, Iraq was merely one of the world's many oppressive dictatorships.

In the meantime, under the guise of homeland security, Bush 43 turned constitutionally guaranteed liberties into his personal list of rejected recommendations.

Bush has somehow escaped impeachment, but on Nov. 4 Americans can punish his party. Virginians can do that by voting Democratic for president for the first time since 1964. They can also choose, for the first time since 1973, to make Virginia's Senate delegation Republican-free.

To be sure, this political sea change in no way diminishes the long and distinguished career of fellow Washington and Lee graduate Sen. John Warner, whose voice of reason the GOP and the Senate will dearly miss. No one has earned the "maverick" label like the retiring senator from Virginia.

Without John Warner calling the issues as he sees them, however, the partisan head count in the Senate becomes more important. In the race between former governors, Democrat Mark Warner is leaving Republican Jim Gilmore in the dust.

THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

As Election Day nears, the polls show more Americans favoring Sen. Barack Obama. But not only is his message of change resonating with the voters, Americans are seeing just how ugly some elements of the Republican Party faithful can be. Only on Election Day will we know that Americans are really supporting a black candidate as they say they are.

Perhaps we would be better off now if Sen. John McCain had been president rather than Bush. But today, his military valor notwithstanding, McCain is an unappealing candidate who has run an uninspired campaign. Failing to distance himself from the Bush administration's toxic legacy tops the list. With nothing fresh to contribute, McCain has been dismissive of Obama's candidacy while distorting the Democrat's platform.

McCain may have sealed his defeat before the convention by making Gov. Sarah Palin his running mate. She may be perfect for Alaska, but as a national candidate she has proved herself incompetent. Even some Republicans admit Palin is lost in her world of rhetorical gobbledygook.

READER BONUS

Believe it or not, the term "gobbledygook" was coined in the late 1930s by none other than the late U.S. Rep. Fontaine Maury Maverick, a Texas Democrat and relative of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the brilliant oceanographer and Fredericksburg-area native. I kid you not.

Richard Amrhine is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.





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