Politics

The Blind Men and the (Republican) Elephant

No one needs to school me in political math; I know how to add tu plus tu to get a Nobel Peace Prize. The truth is I must have had a bad fall as a child: I do tend to have double vision. In that spirit, I see the Walter Reed Hospital fiasco and the U.S. attorney firing foofaraw as companion pieces. They combine to teach practitioners of electoral politics, particularly Republicans, an enduring lesson affecting both style and substance.

The Walter Reed story was the wall-to-wall read week before last. Some reporter did a piece about the decrepitude of the structure and the ineptitude of the care. A few families, even some patients, corroborated. The full-court press followed and the full-press court issued its verdict. Congressmen convened hearings. Before you knew it, in the space of a scant few days, some major military honchos were donning their civilian ponchos. The list of rolling heads included the head of the head of the hospital, along with the army surgeon-general. (Admit it, you didn’t even know there was such a position. Does his warning appear on every pack of bullets?)

This week’s obsession is the firing of eight U.S. attorneys with memos indicating White House staffers were privy to the Justice Department’s personnel deliberations. Already Mr. Sampson, assistant to the attorney general, has said, “My soul shall die with the Philistines,” and pulled the building down on himself. His resignation has been accepted by Gonzales and deemed unacceptable by Schumer. Which left the situation stuck where the Sununu don’t shine. Sure enough, Sununu did not shine at all: he has joined in Schumer’s call for A. G. (Attorney General) A. G. (Alberto Gonzales) to step up and step down.

Here is why these stories are twined and twinned. Because both of these scandals, announced with grave shock, merely represent longstanding business-as-usual in Washington D.C., practices in place more years than anyone can recall. The lesson here is valuable: Fate — through the agency of creepy Democrat phonies — is forcing Republicans to honor their own rhetoric.

Take Walter Reed and the VA hospitals in general. Everyone in the country has known for the longest time these facilities are awful. Hollywood, without an axe to grind, has been strikingly accurate in this area, invariably portraying VA clincs or hospitals as peopled by well-meaning staff with inadequate resources. Any of my friends reduced to accepting care there return bearing grim descriptions. Whichever administration originally let this deteriorate is long forgotten; the reality has persisted through numerous presidencies.

So it is the ultimate dirty trick to turn around and pull this out of the rusty scabbard as a sword against Republicans. They did not create the problem nor is there evidence they worsened it. For Democrat politicians and the media to pretend they were not aware of the situation is a rank calumny. It is the height of dishonesty and hypocrisy. But you know what? I don’t care. Even if it means good men losing jobs they held with distinction. Because when Republicans are handed power — by voters, by God, by their own talent, see it any way you like — it is for the purpose of making things right. It must be Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; they must be wide-eyed idealists fighting for truth, justice and the American way.

Much the same goes for firing the federal prosecutors in consultation with the White House. Avoiding the appearance of backroom power dealing is much less important than providing our fighting folks with the finest medical and convalescent care, but clean hands should still be the norm. Again the Democrats, Schumer worst of all, are cynically promulgating a falsehood in implying this was unusual. For Gonzales to resign over such nonsense, when Janet Reno’s Justice Department actually killed American citizens with Army tanks and kidnapped a little kid at the point of a submachine gun, would be a miscarriage of justice of the highest order. Still, two wrongs don’t make a right. Republicans should govern impeccably.

The flip side of this is Democrats should not be allowed to slide, either. When they control a branch of government, as they now do the Congress, they should be called on the carpet constantly — even for violations the other side was no more conscientious about. Instead the Dems do their ballet steps around every charge; there is no scarier image than Nancy Pelosi in a tutu acting as if she nobly prizes peace.


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