The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Friday, March 9, 2012

At Least Oppose the Things That the President Has Actually Done!

As I have noted before, I have grown to hate election years.  What I hate about them is the tendency for politicians and pundits of all political stripes and from all parts of the political spectrum to make false claims, promote nonsense, and generally mislead, lie to, and delude the public in the name of getting votes for "my side."  Worse, it's a showcase for the way in which the public - people who really are smart enough to see through the bullshit - readily buy into all of this rather than critically examine claims made by the politicians that they support.

I hate it.  It's like an on-going demonstration and microcosm of everything that is wrong with the nation.

This time around, the Democrats are in office, and so the Republicans are spending most of their time attacking the president - remember, in 2004 and 2008 it was the other way around.  However, while there is always hyperbole and some degree of nonsense surrounding the opposition views of the sitting president and his party, this year seems to really be going off the rails and abandoning reality.

Now, for the record, I don't particularly care for Obama.  I dislike the fact that the health care reform bill that he pushed requires me, as a citizen, to buy a product from a private company.  I dislike his advocating the assassination of U.S. citizens overseas.  I dislike his continued use of dubious and intrusive intelligence gathering within the U.S.  I dislike the fact that he has not made the office of the president more transparent as promised, but has instead continued with many of the Bush administration's policies obfuscating the executive office's actions and policies.  Unlike most other people I know who voted against McCain, I'm not disillusioned - I never thought that Obama was anything but just another politician, and I am aware that his activities are just continuing the trajectory set for the presidential office as early as the 1960s.  I don't like him, but I am at least aware that he is a standard-issue politician and not some spawn-of-Satan-Jihadi-Communist hell bent on destroying the world.

But, here's the difference between me and most of the other people who don't like him - including what appears to be the bulk of the Republican party - I don't like him because of things that he has actually done.  I am not resorting to pure fantasy to find things to dislike.  I am not comparing him to Hitler or Stalin, he is clearly neither (nor were either of the Bushes, Reagan, Clinton, Carter, or Nixon before him); I am not accusing him of declaring a "war on Christianity" - such notions are absurd when you actually look at his real policy decisions and positions regarding religion (hint: if anything, he edges a little too close to state advocation of religious, and specifically Christian, beliefs); he does not advocate "death panels" (the section of the health care bill that people cite regarding these alleged "death panels" don't require anything too terribly different from the system used by health insurance companies, and in fact might require health care in situations where the current system denies it).  In short, the most common reasons people give for opposing him are not only distortions, they are often complete and utter fabrications.

Rick Perry ran campaign commercials in which he stated that he was opposed to Obama's "war on religion."  What war on religion?  If anything, Obama has been about as lenient towards religious groups as most other recent presidents.  That he is less likely to single evangelical Christianity out for special treatment doesn't mean that he has declared war on it, it means, as Jon Stewart has put it, that evangelical Christians have confused not getting their way with being persecuted (hint: persecution is completley different from not getting your way...oh, and buy a dictionary, and then look up the word "persecution").

Of course, every Republican knows that Obama is a socialist.  Except, as it turns out, socialism looks pretty damn different from Obama's favored and enacted policies.  In fact, if someone calls Obama a socialist, that's a pretty damn clear indication that they don't actually know what the term Socialist means (for those who are confused, follow the link and listen to an actual socialist describe what socialism actually is, and then actually look at the public record of what the President has actually done and advocated - you will see that the two don't match up at all...oh, and, once again, buy a dictionary, but this time look up the word "socialist").  Indeed, the American Socialist Party is getting pretty damn tired of people claiming that Obama's views match theirs in any way, shape, or form.

Recently, I saw numerous people compare his rule requiring Catholic-run institutions to provide contraceptive coverage (excluding the church itself, this only applied to businesses and non-church facilities run by the Catholic Church) to Hitler's regulations requiring Jewish-owned business to pay special taxes and Jewish people to be singled out for abuse.  The mind boggles.  Hitler forced Jewish people to do something different from everyone else, they were singled out for different treatment.  The Catholic-run institutions, on the other hand, were being required to do the same thing that every other institution is required to do - they were not only not being singled out, they were being told that they were required to play by the same rules as everyone else.  It's the polar opposite of what Hitler did.  Now, you may disagree with this rule, and that's your prerogative.  But disagree with what has actually occurred rather than with fabricated bullshit.

Likewise, I keep hearing people describe Obama's election as the crowning achievement of a conspiracy of America-haters to get someone who hates the country as much as they do into office.  If you actually look into Obama's career and life, it becomes clear that, like Bush before him, and Clinton before him, and Bush Sr. before him, and Reagan before him, Obama loves the country.  I dislike his policies, I dislike his continued expansion of the executive office, I wish someone else was president (though I am not delusional enough to think that McCain would have made a big difference in most of the things that concern me), but looking at reality and ignoring stupid, ignorant, imbecilic rhetoric designed purely for manipulative political purposes leaves me with no way to deny that Obama is patriotic, just like the other occupants of the Oval Office before him.  You don't have to like him to accept this reality - hell I dislike Bush Jr., Reagan, Clinton, and Nixon, but I will accept that all of them were patriotic.  The notion that he got elected in order to destroy the country is astoundingly idiotic.  As Christina H. over at explains (in her reason #1 why people will never understand each other):

Most of us don't have to deal with dictators or terrorists every day, but we apply this same cartoon mentality to people in our own country. A lot of people didn't see President Bush as a guy with good intentions and stupid, wrong policies but as a vile being intentionally trying to "destroy America." Similarly, a lot of people opposed to Obama now are positive he can't really believe his policies will help America, but that he is deliberately, for some reason, trying to destroy America and make it inferior to Europe, because I guess he can't wait to be the leader of a second-rate country.

Sure, politicians might not have the purest motives, but nobody wants to fucking tank their own country while they are in charge so that everyone in the whole world can know that they screwed it up. A bad person might be motivated by greed, pride or any other deadly sin, but whatever awful thing they're after, it's supposed to benefit themselves in some way. At least the accusation about Bush starting the Iraq War just to get Halliburton some business made sense from a human nature perspective, even if it's pretty oversimplified and hyperbolic.
It's sad when an internet humor columnist demonstrates a much firmer grasp on reality than half of the nation's voters and pretty much all of the radio personalities commenting on politics.

Here's the thing - every sitting politician, no matter how good and virtuous, has done things worthy of criticism.  A run-of-the-mill politician such as the current president has done many, many things worthy of criticism.  But, if you are going to be critical of the president, be critical of what they actually have done or what the actually advocate doing.  This applies to both Democrats and Republicans, as well as every independent and third-party supporter.

However, right this moment, as demonstrated by the support gained by such reality-challenged people as Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney (as well as the now thankfully gone support once enjoyed by Bachmann, Cain, and Perry), the Republicans are most in need of an infusion of reality.  The Republican party has some very good people and some very good ideas that we all benefit from having in the political sphere, so, Republicans, please don't let the anti-reality bullshit relegate your party to nothing more than the punchline of future historian's jokes.


Evan Davis said...

The part that makes me the most sad is the fact that spewing insanity works. Romney tried being sane and logical about his message. The result: he lost a considerable amount of support and dropped in the polls. In response he started crazying it up and almost immediately pulled ahead. It's all about perception which is why I fully doubt he's as mental as the sound bytes the press are feeding on, mostly because of his past 30 years of behavior. I don't know if I can say that about any other candidate, on both sides of the line.

Anthroslug said...

I actually tend to assume that all politicians sound crazier than they are, especially in the primaries. Well, Santorum...he may very well be precisely as crazy as he sounds.

Take Gingrinch as an example. The man is thoroughly corrupt, no doubt about it. But he's got such a long written record from after he left congress that he is one of that small but existent group of politicicans where anyone familiar with his work absolutely knows that he doesn't really believe the majority of what he says. But he's trying to appeal to a particularly nutty demographic of voters. Romney, I suspect, is another one as of late - in other words, I concur with your analysis.