Friday, March 26, 2010

Who’s Responsible

For a party that sold itself as the party of personal responsibility and rode to the polls astride the chant of “character counts,” the Republicans have proved themselves to be both breathtakingly hypocritical and incapable of accepting responsibility for their own actions. For example, all of the vandalism and threats of violence against the Democrats who voted for the healthcare bill turns out to be the fault of… the Democrats, according to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)

“Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials,” Cantor said. “It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns that — some [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] chairman Chris Van Hollen and [Democratic National Committee] chairman Tim Kaine, in particular — are dangerously fanning the flames, by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon.”

That’s a pretty neat trick; blaming the Democrats for raising legitimate concerns about the over-reaction of the crazy branch after the Republicans used terms like “Armageddon” and egged on the protesters from the floor of the House. I think we’ve reached the graduate level of the Culture of Victimhood.

This curious turnabout of Mr. Cantor is one step up from the usual meme of “both sides do it” which the GOP uses when it condemns things like Sarah Palin posting a map of the U.S. with Democratic districts in the cross-hairs of a gunsight. Yeah, everybody does it; remember all those bricks thrown through the windows of the GOP House members after Bush v. Gore or the vote to go to war in Iraq or all of those Democratic party leaders that told the party faithful to “reload” and put Tom DeLay on the “firing line”? Yeah, me neither, because it never happened. A lot of people made fun of George W. Bush and mocked him, but that was snarkery — which got the Republicans all pissed off, too, because it was absolutely unpatriotic to mock a president during a time of war — but these people are dangerous and they’re being enabled by what passes for Republican leadership. Paul Krugman sums it up:

For today’s G.O.P. is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan — not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the antigovernment fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. It’s a party that sees modest efforts to improve Americans’ economic and health security not merely as unwise, but as monstrous. It’s a party in which paranoid fantasies about the other side — Obama is a socialist, Democrats have totalitarian ambitions — are mainstream. And, as a result, it’s a party that fundamentally doesn’t accept anyone else’s right to govern.

Dr. Krugman laments the fact that we no longer have two reasonable, rational parties in America, and to some degree I agree with that noble sentiment. But I also believe that actions have consequences and the Republicans and their tea-party allies — and don’t let anybody tell you that they’re not a part of the GOP — have to be held accountable for their actions. That’s what being “responsible” means.