The real issue that may doom GOP

November 11, 2007|By ROBERT GARY

Under the guidance of the relevant decider, President George W. Bush, the GOP is making a major strategic error in the veto of the S-CHIP bill.

You never want to give the voters an issue that is easy to understand. How come we can spend $190 billion more on Iraq, but somehow we can't insure these children?

The Republicans have spoken about the fact that the S-CHIP bill fails to focus the funds tightly on the poor and on children. Both of these criticisms are true. The bill would allow families above the poverty level to benefit from it, including, in some cases, adults.

How far above the poverty level? This is a true mystery - some say families earning $50,000 could benefit, some think the figure is $65,000. Others quote a figure above $80,000.


The English language is a powerful instrument of communication, but apparently not powerful enough. Where there is a desire to obfuscate and create confusion, this can be achieved, even in a city where a large percentage of the population are either accountants, who should be able to read numbers, or legislators, who should be able to read English.

So we'll leave the darkness unobscured and just say the number is somewhere between $40,000 and $90,000, with a probability of 90 percent. The bottom line is that some people in the middle class might benefit from the S-CHIP bill.

That's what the GOP is allergic to! They don't want any legislation to come out of Washington that benefits the middle class. They don't want the middle class to have a stake in legislation or in government. It would lead to the Swedenization of the U.S., the big nanny state that everyone has a stake in, and that just grows and grows.

The Redneck Republican (some Republicans, not all) vision for America is more along the lines of Sudan. Each man is responsible to grab, root and growl - to be a hawg if he can, take what he can, thrive as he can - and to heck with everybody else.

Well, they know they can't say that about the poorest of the poor - so they declare, with great fanfare, their intent to direct funds to the very poorest children. They also, of course, want to direct funds to the richest of the rich, especially anything that could help big government contractors and the officers and directors, whose money will roar like a mighty stream, and whisper like a insinuating rill, as it flows down from Bigcash Mountain down to the dark lake of Quiet Influence by Contribution - the new political speech as proclaimed for us by Mitch McConnell and Antonin Scalia. Public speech meant only for one hearer - a paradox perhaps, but McCain-Feingold is a pebble in its path.

Plato talks in "The Republic" about the earliest men who lived in caves and cared only about themselves and their own families. This was prior to the development of the community. Hobbes talks about men in the State of Nature, which is the condition of man without the social contract.

In ancient Greece, persons whose concern was concentrated solely on themselves were called self-focused people - the word in Greek is idiotes. These people were always compared unfavorably to citizens whose principle concern was the politeia or the city-state. The Greek concept of politeia was adopted at least by the Romans who said Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is a beautiful and proper thing to die for one's country).

Well enough of that classics stuff, let's get back to S-CHIP, which I think is a talisman of whether people see the future of the U.S. as being more like Sweden, where everyone has a huge stake in everything the government does, or more like Sudan in which it's basically a state of nature, every man for himself, grab, root, growl - and where life, for the most part, is solitary, nasty, brutish and short.

Never give the voters an issue they can understand - or even think they understand. If the veto of the S-CHIP winds up killing the bill, it will also kill the Republican Party. This will be much more likely if the liberals hang tough and refuse to change the bill after a presidential veto.

If Hillary can take this issue into the 2008 election, her opponent is going to have a lot of explaining to do. Giuliani, the family man with three marriages, may be good at explaining, or at least accustomed to it, but this will be a tough sell even for him.

Robert Gary is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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