an OP-ED by Senator Olympia Snowe, April 28, 2009, New York TImes
So, other than the fact that the two senators from Maine have one less person to hang with at GOP bacchanalias, does this really mean anything else for what's left of the Grand Old Party? Well, yes it does, according to Olympia Snowe (Nice Lady-ME). In an April 28th editorial in the New York Times, titled "We Didn't Have to Lose Arlen Specter," Senator Snowe offers up the Kathryn Hepburn-style Yankee equivalent of "CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?" Now, if I were a Republican (and a nice person from Maine), I would be making much the same arguments that Senator Snowe does. She begins by pointing out that "back in the day"--1988, to be exact--the Republicans had a 55 to 45 majority over the Democrats, and there was no reason to think in 2000 that the GOP would not snag another five seats, giving THEM the 60 seat majority. The 2000 elections came--and the GOP succeeded in doing what no one dreamed they could do: lose five seats, giving the Senate a 50-50 tie. Then with the cry reminiscent of John Paul Jones ("We have not yet begun to lose!"), the 2006 and 2008 elections resulted in net losses of 51 Republicans in the House and 13 in the Senate. What is wrong with this picture?
Senator Snowe’s solution is to quote from the book of Saint Reagan: “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” His Eminence Ronald the Good continues: “As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”
Well…..if you ask me (and no one ever does)--No. All of those points are losers in the GOP playbook. Every one of them. But I would argue even BEFORE the GOP can consider the Reagan/Snowe Plan, there are three larger millstones around the GOP’s collective neck. Those are the Party line on evolution, gay marriage, and personal attacks on Republican critics for “bias.”
"The Jury Is Still Out on Evolution"
But why am I getting bees in my bonnet over evolution, as opposed to abortion and abortion related issues, like stem cells, “morning after” pills, and STD immunizations? Just my personal opinion, I think the social conservative line on abortion is also foolish and immoral, but it is not as politically disastrous as the “evolution” line.
Here’s the problem. It's not enough for George W. Bush’s Republican party that THEY are all ignorant unspecified Protestants who are eccentric, they insist that EVERYONE ELSE should embrace their brand of idiocy as well. And that’s bad.
When was the last time that during an important GOP debate, some idiot DIDN'T wave a Bible, saying that if the King James version of same was good enough for the Apostle Paul, why shouldn't it be good enough for everyone? Conversely, when was the last time a GOP leader said anything about religion being a private matter between a person and their god, and not a supernatural concept to confuse children in the name of "intelligent design"?
That, pals and gals, is where the GOP rubber fails to hit the intellectual road. Despite the best efforts of people like Senator Snowe and gods like Jehovah, the closer the GOP is tied to what is known as the "fundamentalist" religious tendency, insisting everyone should embrace a cosmology that would embarrass your average Taliban cadre for its religious simplemindedness, the faster the Party will collapse.
"God Hates Gay People."
Now, I am the last person to claim to speak for any god, but I'd have to say there is more than ample evidence that if god does exist, that god hates opportunists more than god hates...oh, let’s say…FAGS. In fact, it seems to me that whatever god exists, that Spirit genuinely likes and respects gay people, because the gays are beating the hell (no pun intended) out of gods’ (supposedly) own people.
One of the hallmarks of the 2004 elections were the plethora of states who enacted "one man-one woman" definitions of "marriage," to preserve "marriage," and to "protect the children" by making sure that only one man and one woman could get married. It worked great: Republican voters poured out to the polls to ban gay marriage--and incidentally re-elect George W. Bush. All well and good for the GOP (gods’ own people).
But not really. There are good, practical reasons why two people in a committed relationship need the various legal and political protections recognized in the traditional marriage contract. So, legislatures have responded by creating "civil unions," a wholly secular institution separate but equal (cough cough) to the "religious" institution of marriage. And if you are a GOP social conservative, that's bad.
First, if the state recognizes same sex civil unions, isn’t that just "gay marriage" by another name? Of course it is. And that's bad. Why? Because God hates FAGS, that's why! Pay attention! Of course, this is the same god who also REALLY hates weaving two different kinds of thread into one cloth and moving around on the "Sabbath," but has no problem with genocide and slavery. Go figure. Again, the real problem is not that the GOP social conservative loves the god who hates fags. I mean, lots of people who aren’t god hate lots of things, and we do (relatively) okay. No, the real problem is that the GOP insists that EVERYBODY should love the god that hates fags. Oh yeah--and hate fags too. Therefore, far from creating civil unions, same sex cohabitation should be dealt with, just like we did back in the good ‘ol days: with DEATH! Now THERE'S a crowd pleaser among independents, young voters, and people with at least an upper two digit IQ.
Nevertheless, the biggest danger to fag hating social conservatives is not the unbridled vengeance of an angry fag hating god--it's the carefully thought out opinions of state court judges. Here's the rub: as I said earlier, for everyone who does not hate fags, there are good reasons why gay people should have the secular protections that come from being "married"--despite the fact we all run the risk that allowing civil unions will make more people "decide" to be gay, just to take advantage of the law. Uh huh. Sure.
But no sweat: the state creates a separate but equal secular institution called "civil union," that gives anyone (not just the same sex marriage people) all of the protections and guarantees of marriage, only we don't call it “marriage.” Problem solved, right? Not exactly--blame it on the Blacks.
So what happens when in, let's just say……IOWA, some fancy pants lawyer (not necessarily gay--all lawyers wear fancy pants) asks Assistant Attorney General Adam Hick of Pumpkin Creek what is the compelling state interest in refusing to allow same sex people to marry? Especially given that all secular benefits of “marriage” are allowed through “civil unions.” Just what exactly is the state interest in preserving a wholly religious institution, without running afoul of the establishment clause of the first amendment and the due process rights under the fourteenth amendment? Is Mr. Hick going to open his King James Bible to Leviticus, and say "See? Right here: God hates fags." Not so much.
“We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective,” is how the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court phrased it.
I mean, what are you going to say to that? “This was about the opinion of those seven justices and does not at all reflect some sea change"? Well, that's what a Mr. Bryan English of the Iowa Family Policy Center said. How's that working out for you, Brian?
But just like Mr. Bogart and Ms. Bergman will always have Paris, bigots will always have Leviticus.
“We Hate Smart People.”
This is the one that really gets to me, even more than the five thousand year old talking snake, and the idea of god qua playa hater.
Back in the day, one of the big slogans of environmentalists, while transitioning from Rachel Carson Cult to Mass Movement, was “Question Authority.” Why question authority? Because at the time, Kerr-McGee, General Electric, and the fine people at Babcock & Wilcox had lots of people with “authority” insisting the nuclear power was completely safe. End of story. “Nobody has ever died ever from a nuclear reactor accident, ever,” the flacks, hacks, and usual gang of idiots with advanced engineering degrees all bragged. On the other side were all those folks with long hair, raggy clothes and sandals. They said, quoting the monster in bad Frankenstein movies: “Nuclear power…BAD!” Which sounds sort of stupid—but how many nuclear engineers did the environmentalists have? None (and they counted them twice). So “QUESTION AUTHORITY” was born, largely because it sounded better than “Nuh Uh!” or “’Fraid Not!” Not much better, granted, but still better. That still didn’t keep me from cringing every time anyone said—okay, yelled “Question Authority!”
Similarly, we have the Grand Old Party that cut its academic teeth by opposing FDR’s New Deal (with the intellectual equivalent of wearing “Question Authority” buttons), President Ike railing at “intellectuals” (sometimes with good reason), Spiro Agnew reading aloud from Pat Buchannan about “effete intellectual snobs” and their “nattering nabobs of negativism,” followed by the convoluted defenses of Reagan’s “misstatements” every time he jumped the rails, to the George W. Bush hacks denouncing anyone not named Fox News as “biased.”
Now—I know I’m a little weak on the whole “good-bad” thing, but isn’t bias “bad”? Don’t know, don’t care—because what the GOP calls “bias” is synonymous with four year olds yelling “nuh uh, you dumb guy!”
Well….okay. I mean, the New York Times did endorse Senator Obama over Senator McCain, but was that because the NYT was in the proverbial tank for Obama? Or maybe the endorsement had something to do with Governor Palin’s complete inability to articulate anything about Russia—and yet insisted she knew all about the Russian Federation, because it was GEOGRAPHICALLY close to Alaska. Plus, when “President” (sic) Putin flew to the US, he had to fly OVER Alaska. Considering that most of us learn the difference between physical proximity and intellectual awareness when we’re about…I don’t know…FIVE YEARS OLD—you’d think someone wanting to be vice president would also grasp the concept. At least, the NY Times thought so (for and record and in the interest of full disclosure: I thought so too. But unlike the NY Times, my thoughts featured abundant sprinklings of the “F word”).
Now, if you don’t think the fact a sitting Governor planning on being Vice President can’t even blurt out a lie like “Oh, I read Newsweek/Time/US News & World Report/National Review/Anchorage Daily News/Lake Wobegone Herald Star/Highlights Magazine for Children every chance I get!” raises a red flag—then according to the GOP, you must be in somebody’s tank. That’s why the GOP spinners make like whirling dervishes, denouncing Katie Couric and CBS News for “gotcha” journalism.
One of my favorites: About ten days after the GOP convention, and after the Katie Couric debacle, a GOP flack is on the Fox News morning show, hosted by Joe Scarborough. Mr. Scarborough is there with four or five other “journalists,” all representing the various views of the radical right. But the Scarborough people ARE television folks after all, and they want to know from the GOP flack why Governor Palin is being shielded from interviews—because that’s how TV people make their eating money. The GOP flack whips out the “bias” card, and starts complaining about the “sexism” of the “media,” making stuff up about how Governor Palin won’t be interviewed, when if you look at the time period after Joe Biden was named Obama’s VP, Biden hardly gave any interviews at all.
But the “we don’t have to respond, because you are biased” card became truly heinous in the run up to the Iraq War, and the immediate aftermath following the shocked SHOCKED discovery that Iraq had no WMDs, no nuclear program, and no ties with terrorist organizations period—let alone al Qaida and the 9/11 attacks.
My point is, though, the GOP will continue to shrink as long as its spokespeople say something stupid, followed by a refusal to justify the stupidity, because anyone with the bad manners to point out the stupidity is “biased.”
So no, Senator Snowe (Senator Voted Most Like Tracy Lords Character, ”The Philadelphia Story”--Me.), the Republicans returning to those kindler, gentler days of paying lip service to restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty ain’t gonna cut the muster—at least not until your Party stops embracing a theory of evolutionary biology featuring a talking snake, insists on following a god who is a true playa hater when it comes to the gay and lesbian community, and is content to dismiss any criticism of mistakes and incompetence as the product of “liberal bias.”
Until they clean up those three things, the Republicans are going to be having much bigger fish to fry, than worry over losing a vacuous sleazeball like Arlen Specter.