The Demise of the Republican Party
Another close election year and another senseless debate over an amendment to the Constitution to ban the burning of the American flag. It's a relief that this blatantly political attack on the Bill of Rights failed to win enough votes in the U.S. Senate -- barely.
This year's attempt to throw some red, white and blue meat to voters was engineered by Sen. Orrin Hatch and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
No one ought to mistake their true motivation for bringing the measure to a vote just one week before Independence Day. It was not a chance for lawmakers to salute veterans. They can do that in parades back home.
The goal was to win votes in the midterm elections later this year by appealing to voters on an emotional level. It plays on the heartfelt feelings Americans have for the flag, a symbol of freedom. But one of the freedoms it symbolizes is free speech, and offensive speech such as flag burning needs to be protected most. It's what makes this country free.
Playing politics with the Constitution is, sadly, what we've come to expect from a transparently political Mr. Frist. But before we tag him as a lone opportunist, let's remember that Mr. Hatch's amendment fell just one vote short of passing the Senate. Florida's Mel Martinez supported it, as did Bill Nelson, a Democrat facing re-election.
What has Senator Hatch done for America lately? Has he ordered investigations of the fraud and waste in the Iraq reconstruction debacle? Has he asked Bush to investigate? Isn't Senator Hatch the least bit curious where billions of dollars disappeared to? Isn't he concerned about the corruption of American officials and contractors?
Like many Republicans, Orrin Hatch insists on keeping his head in the sand. We have a president who isn't particularly honest and who has become increasingly difficult to trust. Bush has admitted to breaking the law. It begs the question about how many other laws the most secretive administration in our history has broken. Is Senator Hatch afraid to stand up to the president? Is he even bothering to urge Bush to obey the law? How can Senator Hatch believe Bush when Bush has lied to Congress on several occassions? No, Hatch just looks for something to distract Americans from the nonsense at the core of Washington politics these days. I have no doubt Bush appreciates the favor.
Think of Republicans like Orrin Hatch. There was such an outcry over the handling of Hurricane Katrina that this should have been a surefire winner for an honest politician. Has Orrin Hatch and his Republican friends ordered real investigations of why the handling of Hurricane Katrina was so botched by federal officials, including our president? Does Hatch believe that there was no corruption involved in the money spent after Katrina? Isn't Hatch mystified why so much money went to people with close ties to the Republican party? Does Orrin Hatch still believe in the law? How many Republicans in Congress still believe in the law? Orrin Hatch came to Washington at a time when Congressional Republicans had a reasonable reputation for integrity; shouldn't Hatch be concerned about the growing corruption of his party? Too many Republicans like Orrin Hatch have lost their way in the last five years.
By putting their party ahead of the country, by creating such a corrupt system, by lying to the American people, today's powerful fat cat Republicans look more like what we fought against in 1776, not what we fought for. This Tuesday, on July Fourth, I'm going to enjoy the fireworks and think of a country with a proud history and a simple idea: no man and certainly no head of state is above the law and while right wing Republicans may have forgotten why there are checks and balances, tens of millions of American voters have not forgotten.