Eight years after we didn't elect a man that everyone with a functioning cerebrum knew was lying about things like "compassionate conservatism" and "humility"...twenty-eight years after we DID elect another man who helped gut our republic like an undertaker while prattling about "new days in America" and believed that stuff he'd played in goddam movies was real I no longer look for coherence, moral courage or even much sanity in Republican ideas.
Say what you want about the "good" Republicans; the honorable, decent men and women who supposedly lurk out there, sacrificing in secret to the altar of the paleocons like Bob Taft, Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater. As far as the past 28 years are concerned they've been about as effective as the "good Germans" were in 1939, as useful as a tampon in a typhoon. As of 2008 I will assume a Republican is lying whenever I see his or her lips move.
The World's Worst Newspaper has a spectacularly vile example of this phenomenon, a man named David Reinhard. Anything not benefiting a rich white guy somewhere? Davie's against it. It must be his hell-deep regret that he wasn't born in 1860 so he could have written against unionization, weekends, the 40-hour workweek, the abolition of child labor and all the other dirty hippie faggot commie schemes now too built in to American life for him to root out. And as for our Dear Leader, it's fortunate for Davie that he works in print, since TV and radio would pretty much be out of the question for a man who has spent so much of his waking life with Dubya's johnson lodged in his pharynx that speaking clearly seems unlikely at best.
This Sunday we have vintage Davie: three examples of the Naughty Nanny State making it so hard for Americans and Oregonians to grow up straight and tall like the hardy pioneers beloved of GOP legend. Fie on those rascally liberals, cries Davie, making poor little McDonalds list the calories of their gutbombs on their "menu", forcing humble oppressed cyclists wear their hard hats all the time, forcing us all to pay for shopping bags or bring our own! A la laterne! How much better to trust in business and that glue-sniffing guy riding his stolen Schwinn down 82nd without lights at midnight! Surely We know better than the faceless bureaucratic They what is Good for Us.
Here in 1,000 words is the intellectual barrenness of modern Conservatism. Dave doesn't care that two of his three examples are, in fact, nothing less that the Market he loves like a plushie mooning over a life-size stuffed Bugs Bunny at work: the menu calories (where the hell is the "menu" at L'Arcs d'Or?) are a way to help consumers make informed choices (off-target, IMO - hell, I go to Mickey D's when I WANT something fatty and greasy..); the bag fee is even more classically Smithian - if I want the paper or plastic I'll pay the dime-a-bag, fuck you very much City of Portland...if not, I'll find cloth bags that stand up(my bete noire are the "green" reusable cloth bags that flop over, strewing my groceries all over the back of the car)!! The third, while irking (I just got a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt), is also a "market solution". The law doesn't say you'll get arrested for riding helmetless, just ticketed. So, in a sense, Multnomah County is just proposing a "helmet fee". Want to ride with the wind in your hair? Pay the fine and ride away!
None of this penetrates the Rush-thick skull of Our Dave. He has determined that Government is Bad, therefore all this governing must be Bad, too. Which, when you think about it, explains a LOT about the past eight years. When you believe that government is bad what is more appropriate than to govern badly?
Of course, what this means in the Big Picture is that Dave is a clueless, ideologically arteriosclerotic fool stuck in the plutocratic dreamtime of 1888. He has mentally slept through the capitalist revolution that occurred between the 1930s and the 1980s, when intelligent capitalists realized that paying your workers a living wage and ensuring them safe, decent working conditions wasn't socialism but ensured that they had disposible incomes to buy American cars and live in American homes. Henry Ford didn't pay his guys $2.50 an hour in 1933 because he loved him some rivetheads - he paid them $2.50 an hour so they would buy Model T Fords!! Reinhard, like his GOP cronies, have lost sight of the New Deal contract that kept America labor-peaceful and socially stable for over fifty years. That's just being a fool.
But, beyond that, Reinhard is a poster boy for the Right. Does his loathing for the Bicycle People (he loves him some SUV - Portland's "PC" bike-commute advocates are a common Reinhard target) matter when given an opportunity to flay the Left? Do the market-based nature of these ideas? Does ANYthing, other than another oxycontin-fueled diatribe at the Evil Libruls and their Nanny State?
Because beyond guns, gays, abortion, war and tax cuts, Davie and his kind have no ideas. They have no plan beyond repealing the workplace safety rules on the way to leading America back to the Gilded Age, where they (of course) will be the Gettys and the Carnegies and the Astors and the rest of us, especially you darkies and you bitches, will shut up and sit down in the back of the bus on the way to your jobs cutting their lawns, cleaning their toilets, minding their children and flipping their burgers.
And if you like this, by all means vote Republican this November. Davie Reinhard will be proud of you.
Update 8/4: Meghan notes that Reinhard's name is DAVE. Regardless. He's still a Dick.