Friday, April 24, 2009
Sometimes it's just funny, as when they named their tax revolt (and various other complaints) after a sexual act. Or when they came up with a slogan already in use -- by an antidepressant. Frequently, it's at the level of buffoonery: writing legislation to prevent the US from joining a "world currency." Wondering why Alaska has oil. I mean, heck, at some point you have to feel sorry for the whole party. And then they take up, by the dozens, a new talking point that's so stupid and so wrong and cynical and destructive that you just have to throw up your hands and say there's no hope. For them, or for us, the thoughtful.
As a matter of fact, I'm uncertain about torture prosecutions. I absolutely think there ought to be investigations of what went on, and I have not much doubt that the right thing to do, in the sense of pure right and wrong, is to prosecute those at the top who authorized it, if a case can be made. But I can see where the politics are complex; there are credible contrary arguments. Similarly, I'm not sure I see the point of releasing more photos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Were there serious people discussing it seriously, I'd be listening.
Yet, inexplicably and stupefyingly, Republican leaders seem literally, maybe congenitally, unable to make a serious argument. Instead, they're characterizing the idea of investigating torture as making us a banana republic. A BANANA REPUBLIC!!!! Could they have picked a more self-canceling and ridiculous theme? Are they that bereft of intelligence, that ideologically hidebound? For all to see, the answer seems unequivocally "YES."
I don't know about you, but when I think of a banana republic I think of a petty dictatorship, where the leader is a law unto himself, imprisoning people at his will, and, when he feels like it, torturing them. Any attempt to reign him in would be brutally put down. The rule of law has no meaning. (Yes, it also implies a narrow economy, based on a single product. Bananas, e.g. And, of course, this.) Whatever else would be true of a banana republic, it would NOT be investigating crimes of its leaders. Banana republics are about committing crimes, not addressing them. And, for the record, "show trials" are about ginning up charges where there are no crimes. Investigating actual crimes is called "accountability," a word formerly used by Republicans. And by governments that replace corrupt ones.
Hey, point-talkers: under George Bush we WERE a banana republic. The question at hand is whether to let them get away with it. Make your case. Make sense.