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Friday, May 28, 2010

The Grand Old Panderers

Last night, Republican warnings of voting as a block turned out to be bluster. They'd promised a "vigorous defense" of the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but five Republicans wound up voting for repeal. Rising GOP star Paul Ryan actually sat out the vote, perhaps a signal that Republican house leadership had given up on the idea. And shame on the twenty-six Democrats who voted against it. Still, the repeal -- conditional though it is -- passed the house 229-168. Sanity prevailed.

That's not to say that insanity didn't give it one helluva good shot. Republicans still being Republicans, there was plenty of stupidity, hatred, and outright lies on the floor of the house.

You wonder what Gohmert thinks "overt" means. Of course, that's just Louie Gohmert being Louie Gohmert, who Steve Benen once called "one of Congress' most embarrassing buffoons." If it's stupid and crazy and Sarah Palin's not around, Gohmert probably said it.

But what about the plain lie Mike Pence, who serves as Chairman of the House Republican Conference, told about what "Americans want?" He has to know that's not true. I know that Republicans operate in a completely fact-free zone when they need to, but you don't walk into a debate like that without at least taking a glance at some data. He absolutely has to know he's lying. Americans want DADT gone. If Pence doubts that, he can literally choose any poll he likes. They all have the same findings: the public, by an extremely wide margin, doesn't like the policy very much. Pence, in pretending to rise to the defense of the American people, actually rises to oppose us.

I've come to think of that video as a sort of walk of shame. It won't be long before those arguments will be almost universally seen as stupid and embarrassing. And that's because they'll be proven wrong. There's no credible data anywhere backing these arguments up, they're pure supposition -- and that supposition is based in bias. Think about the "slippery slope" arguments against gay marriage; five states and DC now recognize same sex marriage, but there's still no one demanding to marry their dog. Turns out all the Chicken Little freaking out was as baseless and idiotic and hyperbolic as it seemed.

Are US military personnel the finest fighting force in the world or are they emotionally fragile homophobes who'll turn into a quivering, non-functioning mass in the mere presence of someone they know is gay? That depends on what Republicans need them to be at the moment. And since when do we measure good policy by how bigots would react to it? We know for a fact that there are white supremacists in the military. Should we ban anyone who isn't white, just to keep those morons happy? I think the saner thing would be to reverse Don't Ask, Don't Tell and apply it to homophobes. If you've got a problem serving with gays, you get to shut up about it or you're out. It's not gays who would harm "unit cohesion," it's bigots.

But these are Republicans we're talking about here. Their party is home to bigots and bigots never recognize that they're the problem. So the GOP welcomes them with open arms and encourages them to be bigoted. If it's a wedge-issue, they'll dive right in. Want to hate Muslims or Atheists or gays or the poor or Hispanics? These are your guys.

Welcome home.


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