When someone extracts my fingernails very slowly, I do not care about his political affiliation, his religion or the steamy details of his sex life. He is a bad person who has harmed me, and deserves to be punished.
I say this in response to a recent series of columns by Pastor Chuck Baldwin of Pensacola, Florida. Baldwin, perhaps more than any other commentator, sees President Bush for the phony he is. Baldwin has written prolifically and eloquently about the folly of the unquestioning support for Bush among so many conservatives.
They tell me I need to stand behind President Bush for three reasons. First, "We could have had Al Gore." Second, "Bush and the Republicans are for less government." And finally, "He professes a belief in Jesus Christ."
Let us examine these reasons. Has President Bush done anything different than a President Gore would have done? All he has done as president is expand the federal government. Every department and agency in Washington, D.C., has grown larger, costlier, more powerful, and more intrusive. The post 9-11 agenda has been a full frontal assault on the Bill of Rights. Jackboot Johnny has replaced Jackboot Janet. Republicans may oppose Democratic big government, but they cannot get enough of Republican big government.
But didn't he give us a tax cut? A one percent tax cut phased in over ten years is not a tax cut. Here is an example of a real tax cut: I work for a week, earn X dollars, and pay $100 in taxes. The next week, I earn the same amount of money and pay only $80 in taxes.
As far as being for "less government", I ask: "Less government than what?" I used to be fond of saying that favoring less government than Bill Clinton is like having had fewer bad hair days than Don King. When Bill Clinton said one thing and did the opposite, Republicans opposed him vehemently. However, when Bush says he is for freedom, and then expands the federal government, they come up with all kinds of excuses, rationalizations, and justifications.
I'll never forget a conversation I had with some Bush-lovers shortly after he signed the incumbency protection - oh, I'm sorry -- campaign finance bill into law. I wanted to barf. They parroted all the usual clichés. "The Democrats forced his hand." "It was the best he could have done under the circumstances." "I think he may be trying to gain some long-term political advantage down the road." Had a President Gore signed the same bill, they would have been calling for everything short of a Nuremberg Trial. Bush, on the other hand, is a Republican and therefore immune from objective evaluation.
As far as the third reason why I am supposed to support Bush, I have been a Christian since October 22, 1986. In that time, I have been, as they say in the Navy, screwed, blued, and tattooed by God knows how many Christians. What they do screams so loudly that what they say is irrelevant.
Scripture tells us "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-16) While Bush is not a prophet, he is no doubt a wolf in sheep's clothing. His public persona may be a lot more palatable than that of Bill Clinton or Al Gore, but his policies are even more onerous.
If the guiding philosophy of the sixties was, "If it feels good do it", then the guiding philosophy of the new millennium is "If it sounds good do it." If a legislative proposal sounds good, we should support it. Bill Buckley once remarked that some congressman should introduce the Nuclear First Strike Against the Soviet Union Civil Rights Act, and then brand anyone opposed to that act as an opponent of civil rights. Bush turns the Constitution into confetti in the name of "Homeland Security", but conservatives praise him effusively because his proposals sound so good.
Scripture counsels us that "by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20) Bush has done nothing but expand government, but those who purport to believe in limited government never hold him accountable when he bears such Clintonian fruit.
We need to evaluate politicians the same way we evaluate golfers. The lower a golfer's score, the better he is. Likewise, the less a politician does, the better he is.
If you really want to rock a dittohead's world, tell him the two real reasons why the September 11 attacks happened, and how Clintonian the Bush administration's response has been. First, you cannot throw your weight around internationally the way the United States does and expect to have everyone love you. Our military occupies the Saudi Arabian peninsula, the holy land of Islam. Millions of Muslims throughout the world positively seethe with indescribable hatred for our presence there and want us out. We keep our military in well over 100 countries around the globe. We support Israel and Saudi Arabia, China and Russia, India and Pakistan. It is impossible to do this and stay out of trouble.
Yet we continue to keep our troops there and officially treat the Saudis as allies. And we continue to keep our military stationed just about everywhere. None dare call it empire. Every empire - Roman, British, Soviet - has met its demise. (Portugal and Spain were once a world powers.) What makes anyone think the American empire will last ad infinitum?
Second, we disarmed innocent people. The passengers, pilots and crew of those four gun-free zones (1) that were hijacked on September 11 had no means of defending themselves against the hijackers. In the name of preventing bad things from happening, we had confiscated weapons from law-abiding citizens before they boarded airplanes. Well, on September 11, something bad happened. What did the Bush Administration do? They enforced the policies that had caused the problem even more aggressively.
(Admittedly, GWB has relented on arming airline pilots, but not without extremely vigorous pressure from pro-gun rights groups.)
But they had to do something after September 11! Yeah, they had to stop doing those things that got us in so much trouble to begin with. Conservatives, who are supposedly so independent and self-reliant and pro-freedom, have clamored for bigger government and less freedom to a far greater extent than liberals ever did. When you add in the Patriot Act, the education bill, the farm bill, the aforementioned campaign finance reform bill, it is as if nothing changed on January 20, 2001. Apparently, all conservatives want to conserve any longer is Clintonism.
As far as you or I are concerned, nothing did change on that day. We have one party government with interchangeable parts. Machine politics did not go away with Mayor Daley. The debate is no longer about whether the government should do X, Y, or Z. Rather, it is about how much they should do, and who should be doing it.
It is not for me to judge where GWB is spiritually. Oh sure, it has probably been years since he looked at a woman other than Laura. However, his policies are even more contemptible than those of his predecessor, whom Bush's supporters would have us think is the anti-Christ. The Clinton legacy of socialism at home and imperialism abroad is with us more than ever. The implications for your and my God-given and constitutionally guaranteed rights are just as grisly.
We are in the midst of football season. Every weekend, across America, millions watch as a few dozen behemoths move a ball up and down a field. Some think it silly that we place so much emphasis on whether the guys in colored jerseys or the guys in white score more points at the end of 60 minutes. However, football illustrates an important point that we need to apply to politics. When the ball changes hands, the team with the ball moves it toward a different end zone than the other team. This is what makes sports exciting. (This is why sports engage my mind far more than politics, and why they are about the only form of mass entertainment that holds my interest.)
Republicans say they are moving America in a different direction than Democrats, but, as Rush Limbaugh would say, this is just symbolism over substance. They are moving the ball in the same direction as the Democrats, and doing so more rapidly. I used to think that if Bill Clinton would drive this country over a cliff at 100 miles an hour, GWB would only do so at 96 miles an hour. I was wrong. Bush is taking away our freedoms at a greater rate than Clinton ever did.
I have heard politics defined as a clash of interests masquerading as a clash of principles. It does not matter which party Bush is affiliated with, what religion he professes or who he sleeps with. His policies are more dangerous than Clinton's. His personality may be more agreeable than that of Clinton or Gore, but inwardly he is even more of a ravening wolf.
(1) I did not coin this phrase. Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America did. (Back)
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Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman
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