Governing seemed so simple once Republicans had control of both the executive and legislative branches. What's the mystery?
First, reward those who got you there, beginning with the wealthy and their companies. Slash the share of their wealth they contribute to the upkeep of the nation that made them rich.
Next reduce government oversight and regulation of their industries. That reduces their costs of operation, boosting their bottom line. Now they can not only make more in profits, but thanks to tax cuts, keep more of that dough too. A two-fer! Cutting regulations is a breeze when you're in charge. (Albeit an increasingly gritty breeze. But dirtier air is a small price to pay. As they say, "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs."
Once Republicans had the fat and happy fatter and happier than ever, they threw a few fish to their Red-State sucker-base. These are the white middle- and lower-middle class voters who vote Republican largely because GOP candidates are, for the most part, white too.
GOP sucker-base voters worry a lot. They wake up each morning certain that lower class folk – particularly those of a dusky persuasion -- are scheming to take their stuff; their jobs, their cars, their neighborhoods, their daughters. Republicans can't do anything about those worries, particularly the lost jobs, so instead they tightened the lid on the federal cookie jar for the poor. And they assure their sucker-base that they'd work to extend the death penalty for all unruly behavior just short of jaywalking. The sucker-base loves it when Republicans talk tough like that.
Then it was time to reward America's Taliban -- fundamentalist Christian voters. That was really easy. No they don't get generous tax breaks, they get something more celestial. GOP lawmakers agreed to agree that it should be federal policy that Genesis and Darwin were factually co-equals. Adam and Eve lived side by side with Tyrannosaurus Rex. The earth is only 6000 years old. And carbon dating is highly suspect. No harm, no foul – so long as fancy and fact are given equal weight in science classes.
Governing, a real no-brainer.
That was so easy and made the Christian Taliban so happy, why stop there?
* You say you wanna put the Ten Commandments in public buildings? Sure! We don't follow most of them ourselves but we can pretend we do. (Hell, Rep. Duke Cunningham stole millions, lied and coveted up the butt. We're gonna miss that ol'boy.) But sure, put the damn things where ever you want.
* Want prayers in public schools? You betchya. America's kids are not learning anything in schools anyway. And now that we are teaching metaphysics as science, they might as well start talking to spirits too.
* Want to take away a woman's right to choose? Well of course! After all, isn't abortion's just murder disguised as a medical procedure? And no exceptions.. not even for rape or incest. Tough luck, right? (Anyway, just between us compassionate conservatives, they were asking for it. You know it and we know it and we want you to know we know it.)
* Want the death penalty imposed more often? Sure nuf. Besides, it's so much cleaner and safer these days with lethal medical injection. Heck, it's kind of a very late-term abortion. (Wait. We want to take that last line back.)
Governing - empowering and institutionalizing ignorance and superstition -- it's just that easy.
Finally that left only the GOP's Neocon wing to reward. And these guys were really hungry. They'd spent decades in the political wilderness howling at all things foreign. Now they demanded to be fed. And on 9/11 their dinner bell rang. Afghanistan -- umm, umm good. Tasty, but a mere appetizer. "Waiter! Where's our main course?" the Neocons demanded. And Iraq was delivered to their table on a sizzling platter.
Just that easy.
Ah, those were the days -- those first four years of GOP dominance -- when governing was a breeze. Just hand stuff out to friends; the money, the favors, the medals, the no-bid contracts, the empowerment of religious snake oil peddlers. And then shine everyone else on.
Governing was so easy.
Then the bills arrived, bills that can't be paid because the checking account is empty. So they borrowed -- and borrowed, and borrowed. Now there's some Chinese guy calling every night around dinner time demanding we pay more interest on our debt.
"Hey, what's this crap," Republicans grumbled at first. "We're the United States of America. No one pushes us around." To which the Chinese credit manager on the other end of the line snaps, "Ah, so sorry please. Do not mean to offend American friends. But pay up or we stop covering your deadbeat butts. Oh, and while were at it, one more thing. We don't want to hear anymore crap from you about Taiwan. Okay Joe?"
Damn. That's a buzz kill if ever there was one!
But that's not the only governing wrinkle plaguing Republicans. All kinds of chickens are coming home to roost - big chickens - ugly-ass, pit-chickens. Their happy daze buzz has been replaced by a rising groan of pain.
WASHINGTON -- After starting the year full of grand promise, the expanded Republican majority in Congress is stumbling to the finish, with party leaders facing unexpected difficulty this week winning support for a raft of unfinished priorities, and major bills involving taxes, health care, and the war on terrorism appearing likely to get bumped into 2006. (Full Story)
Yes, the GOP's governing party is over. Hang over has settled in. The need to really govern has arrived. And, to quote President Bush, real governing has turned out to be "haaarrrrd."
It's especially hard to run a nation when you've gutted the checking account and burned through all credit lines during the party days. When the GOP took over the nation they were handed $5.6 trillion in projected budget surpluses. Four and half years later we are $8 trillion in the hole.
What to do? What to do?
Well, they could raise taxes on the top 1% of US earners. But that would really piss them off. So instead the GOP decided to turn to children, the elderly and the working poor to see if they can squeeze savings out of them.
WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly passed a $602 billion bill to cut funds for health, education and labor programs ... it would cut $249 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $780 million from President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education program and would add no money to help low-income people pay winter heating bills despite skyrocketing fuel costs. (Full Story)
The only trouble with cutting social programs is it forces the GOP to de-cloak. Where'd those "compassionate" conservatives go? No place. They were never there to begin with. It was just a marketing gimmick used to mock and defeat genuinely compassionate liberals. But it was a gimmick that worked, so Republicans up for reelection next year are reluctant to have their names attached to budget cuts for the poor, yet unwilling to raise taxes on the rich.
Real governing is haaaarrrrd.
Then there's the Neocon's war in Iraq. Jesus, that thing sure got out of hand. That was supposed to be easy. Instead it got real haaaarrrd. It also got expensive as hell -- $6 billion a month expensive! Six billion bucks a month... that's $72 billion this year. The Pentagon wants $100 billion next year. That would be $66 billion more than the GOP cut yesterday from social programs for next year domestic budget.
But now that Republicans have the Iraq tiger by the tail they dare not let it go. The animal that was supposed to be a loving pet turned out a rabid beast. Neocons continue to promise it can be domesticated, even though it's already killed nearly 2200 trainers they sent there to house break the beast.
So the GOP can't cut money for that mission. Because that would be "letting the Iraqi people down."
That just leaves the GOP with just one choice – to let the American people down instead.
Damn! Real governing is real haaaarrrrd!