By Mike Argento, first appearing in the York Daily Record:
For eight years, conservatives bent over backwards, sometimes to the point of violating the laws of physics, to defend the previous occupant of the White House.
They defended his decision to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11, an adventure that seems endless and has cost great amounts of treasure and American blood.
They defended his fiscal policies, granting massive tax cuts to the wealthiest taxpayers while wages for working Americans declined and their health care costs went through the roof.
They defended his moves to defang the nation’s watchdogs as Wall Street morphed into Vegas with fewer rules and hookers. They defended him as he converted the Justice Department into a political operation, appointing people who apparently received their law degrees from boxes of Cracker Jacks. They defended him as he sat idly by while a great American city drown.
Conservatives twisted facts and logic to defend each and every boneheaded move.
Which brings us to the Republican primary race in the 19th Congressional District.
In that race, Mike Smeltzer, the head of an organization that seems to believe its mission is creating $7-an-hour jobs for working people, is challenging Todd Platts, claiming that Platts simply isn’t conservative enough.
It’s a movement in the Republican Party. These forces drove U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter from the Republican Party and into what can only be described as a dysfunctional marriage to the Democrats.
Arlen did not pass the ideological purity test. And now, Smeltzer believes that Platts is not ideologically pure enough for the citizens of the 19th District.
Smeltzer is making the case that Platts is a puppet of the president.
Not the current president. You couldn’t make that case since Platts has voted against just about every one of President Obama’s initiatives, from the stimulus to health care reform.
No, Smeltzer is making the case that Platts was too supportive of President Dubya.
You know, during those eight disastrous years, a lot of us were saying that. A lot of us were kind of irritated with Platts and his lack of independence during those years, falling for every idiotic idea that emanated from the White House.
Now, Smeltzer has come around, in a manner of speaking.
In a recent campaign piece, he criticized Platts, saying “the sad truth is that Todd Platts was a willful and active participant during the Bush administration era, now considered ‘the least fiscally responsible in (American) history’!”
There is no citation on the “least fiscally responsible” quote. Maybe he’s quoting Paul Krugman, Nobel-prize-winning economist, New York Times columnist, whose politics are diametrically opposed to Smeltzer’s.
It’s hard to disagree with. But where were Smeltzer and the rest of the conservatives when Dubya was driving the country off the cliff?
They were manning the ramparts, defending Dubya.
Of course, now they say Dubya wasn’t really a conservative, or that it wasn’t his fault because Congress was off the rails during that time. Still, for six of the eight years Dubya ruled, Republicans — conservatives — controlled Congress.
And now they’re admitting that the crater we find ourselves in, the crater that Obama is trying to drag us out of, is Bush’s fault.
Well, it’s about time they realize that.
Now, maybe they’ll start to understand the struggle we face to repair the damage of eight years of neglect and abuse, that they are able to face the fact that conservative ideas of cutting taxes for the rich and allowing Wall Street to do whatever it wants do not work.
Or maybe not.
It’s kind of hard to figure what Smeltzer is saying. On the one hand, he blasts Platts for being part of the Washington cadre determined to destroy our way of life, and on the other, he criticizes Platts for driving home every night and not hanging around after hours when the real deal-making is done. You could say the congresscritters who are part of that clique are the problem. (Google John Ensign.)
And then, Smeltzer’s radio ads criticize Platts for supporting things Obama proposed.
Keeping with the conservative tendency to create facts to support your conclusion, he says Platts supported Obama’s stimulus spending, which he didn’t. In other forums, he criticized Platts for supporting Cash for Clunkers, which is kind of partly true.
The only stimulus spending that Platts supported was extending unemployment benefits for people who have been unable to find jobs. If Smeltzer wants to run for office opposing unemployment insurance, well, good luck with that.
And Platts’ Cash for Clunkers vote is another argument Smeltzer doesn’t really want to have. Platts voted against the program, but once it was passed and it turned out to be popular, resulting in a shortfall of funding, he voted to fund it, to keep the promise that the government made to people who bought cars and the dealers who sold them.
If Smeltzer wants to make the argument that government shouldn’t keep its promises, well, good luck with that too. The one argument he can make that will work?
As we consider the polarized nature of our politics, maybe this is our only common ground, that Dubya was a disaster.
And maybe we can look forward to the day that conservatives finally realize what put this nation on this path and which president sparked the series of events that resulted in our country’s bankruptcy.
One of these days they’ll get around to blaming Ronald Reagan.
Mike Argento’s column appears Mondays and Fridays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints. Reach him at email@example.com or 771-2046. Read more Argento columns at www.ydr.com/mike or visit his blog at www.mikeargento.com.
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