|“A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast”
These poignant lines from Casey at the Bat speak to the emotions that those of us who follow and cheer our favorite baseball team have experienced countless times. Philadelphia Phillies fans have a reputation for being among the most fervent in professional sports. They can be churlish and cruel, yet they will be loyal to a fault; they exude emotion and expectation yet understand practicality.
What most people don’t understand is what made them that way. Growing up rooting for a team that a few short years ago became the only team in major professional sports to have lost 10,000 games in its franchise history develops a sports character that a Yankee, braves or Red Sox fan could never understand!
Politics has many parallels with baseball. Those who develop team loyalty see everything through the tinted glasses of their team. So if they are Republican, the GOP can do no wrong and the Democrats can do no right and vice versa.
Take the vitriol heaped on Barack Obama by most Republicans. He evokes more emotion among the so-called Republican Right than any president in my memory. He is described by many as the most leftist president in history.
On the other hand, I’ve attended gatherings on more than one occasion during the Bush presidency where loyalist Republicans declared Bush to be the “most conservative president in our lifetime”, in “the last fifty years” or in “the last hundred years.” I guess you get to pick the absurdity.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe the current occupant of the oval office is a Constitutional miscreant of immense proportions. He displays greater infidelity to the Constitution than any president since at least FDR. His lack of fidelity started with his refusal to show that he meets the Constitutional qualifications to be president. They are, after all, quite simple. One must be at least 35 years of age, shall have lived at least fourteen years in these United States and shall be a natural born citizen. Why would one spend what has been estimated to exceed a million dollars to keep secret the long form birth certificate that would settle this question once and for all? But I digress.
In fact, George W. Bush showed nearly as much disdain for the Constitution as does Obama. For all the outbursts about Obama trampling on the Constitution and turning us into a socialist state, I wonder what they were smoking while the Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress for four years of the Bush II presidency. Bush’s alleged contemptuous remark that the Constitution is nothing but a “g*d d*mn” piece of paper”, was not merely a blasphemous statement; it exemplified an attitude and a policy.
I challenge anyone to name one major fiscal, individual liberty or foreign relations policy area where there is a significant ideological difference between the practice of Bush II and Obama. Remember, I’m not comparing the degree to which the policy is taken but rather the ideological justification for the policy.
In the cover story of the December 6, 2010 issue of The New American, Charles Scaliger presents a compelling case for how Obama, despite campaign hype to the contrary, continued the war policies of Bush in both Iraq and Afghanistan, continued the course set by Bush in relations with Russia and in calling for an expansion of NATO, along with ever greater accommodations with the United Nations.
In fiscal matters, Republicans have suddenly discovered a verbal commitment to fiscal restraint and constitutional limitations on the power of the federal government, blasting Obama for his socialized medicine capers and stimulus package bailouts. But where were they when Bush was doing the same sorts of things now done by Obama? After all, it was Bush who pushed through the first stimulus package, a $700 billion dollar bank bailout. As soon as Obama got into office, he started pushing for the second one to compound the disaster but it was not significantly less “unconstitutional” or “socialistic” than the one presided over by Bush.
Scaliger notes that overall federal spending has increased about ten percent per year during the first two years of the Obama administration which is about the same annual increases that occurred during the administration of George W. Bush.
Obamacare, the gargantuan intrusion of the federal government into the healthcare decisions of every American citizen, is presented as the proof case for Obama’s desire to lead us into socialism. Without disputing the truth of that intent, let’s look objectively at what Bush did in the federal healthcare arena with his massive overhaul of Medicare at an estimated cost of $7 trillion, called “the greatest expansion of America’s welfare state in forty years” by CBS legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg.
It was George W. Bush who disdained the privacy rights of individuals that the federal government is supposed to protect under the Fourth Amendment by pushing through the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security along with its progeny of new intrusions on the privacy of American citizens. Although candidate Obama decried these violations of the Constitution, once assuming the office of the presidency, he has continued these policies and has authorized even more draconian policies such as installation of new backscatter body imaging machines that electronically undress passengers who merely want to exercise their right to travel. Those who refuse to have the naked features of their bodies viewed by strangers must face an enhanced groping “patdown” that would constitute a felonious sexual assault if done by anyone other than a government agent in a non-medical circumstance.
So Republicans have gained a substantial majority in the House of Representatives. The pundits are buzzing about the opportunities this new crop of Republicans will have and hope again springs eternal that sanity will be restored in Washington. But if the past is prologue, just as there was no joy in Mudville because mighty Casey had struck out, those pinning their hopes on Republican promises will see their hopes dashed once again. There are already emerging signs that the GOP really only wants to be a better caretaker of the welfare state than the Democrats. I have no confidence that it has any intention of derailing the train to socialism.