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Put hung over Republicans in the drunk tank

Posted: December 2, 2008 5:59 p.m.
Updated: December 3, 2008 4:59 a.m.
 
Two years back, Congressman McKeon and I met for lunch over at Salt Creek Grille. He was gracious and remarkably forthcoming.

We talked about all sorts of interesting things. And then he let a bomb fall off his lips that truly surprised me for its candor.

"Gary, we're in a world of hurt for leadership in Washington," he said. Here was a Republican in a Republican-controlled Congress with a Republican president acknowledging the Republican ship had crashed on the rocks with a drunken captain groping at the helm.

In the 2006 election, the Republicans rightly took a drubbing and lost control of Congress. Buck admitted they had it coming. But that turned out to be just the first wave of popular revolt, and in this recent election Republicans lost control of everything, including their legacy, their future and their dignity.

Since that resounding rejection of the incompetence that had become modern Republicanism, we've witnessed a steady stream of Republican apologists explaining away their defeat - attempting to apply lipstick to the pig of their well-deserved rotten reputation.

And the Republican pig is no piglet - it's a big fat greasy hog, and no matter how the talking heads wrestle with the slimy thing, that hog is too nasty and too stinky to pretty-up with the attempted post-rejection election makeover.

But Republican commentators dive right into the pigpen, wrangling between hand-wringing for Republican sins to attacks on the public's new choices - before they've even been sworn in.

The Signal's own columnists John Grannis and Steve Lunetta stain good newsprint, attempting their own brands of lipsticky history rewrites and attacks against the administration-elect.

But like so many other Republicans, these men fail to understand the core problem is in the heart, not on the lips, of the Republican Party. A heart transplant is more in order than a stick of new lipstick.

Scott Wilk's Signal commentary, "GOP Hangover: How can we recover from this?" (Nov. 28) is the most intelligent of the Republican mea culpas - but also inadvertently makes the case for banishment of Republican politics.

Wilk says George Bush was the drunk driver who crashed the Republican bus. Bush was a rogue, fake Republican who deceived the Republican Congress and ruined the Republican brand.

Wilk admits that the role of Congress is oversight, and the Republican-controlled Congress sat idly by as an inebriated Bush drove the national bus straight into oncoming traffic, devastating nearly everything in his path.

No Republicans intervened to steer the bus to safety. Instead, they poured Bus Driver Bush more whisky shots as their drunk bus careened across the national landscape. Americans granted Republicans absolute control of government for six years, and the presidency for eight, and they turned it into a debauched power orgy.

The so-called "adult" party got binge-drunk, killing all on the bus and setting the world aflame. Now we'll pay for the carnage for generations with giant deficits, reductions in services, lost lives and ruined families.
All from lack of Republican congressional oversight, as Wilk openly admits.

Wilk says the election results are like a hangover after a drunken binge.

"The morning after is never pretty," he writes. "After eight years of the George W. Bush administration ... Republicans have to look in the mirror to get back to their core values."

But while Republican drunks hitting bottom might need to "look in the mirror," all the mirror-gazing in the world won't restore the lives they lost and the damage they caused.

Mr. Wilk, post-binge mirror gazing won't resurrect the 5,000 American soldiers killed for nothing in your needless, preemptive war. All your mirror-gazing won't restore the limbs to the 20,000 soldiers who lost them for your pride.

Mirror-gazing won't restore the millions of jobs lost and the families suffering in poverty.

Mirror-gazing won't restore wealth to the millions of American's who've lost their homes or most of their retirement for lack of proper government oversight.

Republicans may think they need to get back to their "values" to get back into power, but it was their laissez-faire "values" that caused this mess.

This isn't some political game to strategize your way back into control. The pawns you sacrificed during your inebriated reign were real Americans and real families.

Mr. Wilk, Americans don't want your Republican "starved, dysfunctional government values" and they surely don't want Bush's bloated government budgets. What we want is efficient government.

Americans don't want your tax breaks for the upper crust, and they don't want your magical budgets running huge deficits for our kids to pay after you've died from your own excesses. They want fair taxation for valuable, effective services.

Americans for sure don't want your faith-based government driving wedges between "real" and "other" Americans. They want faith respected in their personal lives and intelligent, rational pragmatism in government.

Wilk says Republicans must rebrand themselves. But slap a new label on an old can of rancid meat, and the meat is still rancid.

You can put all the lipstick you want on that pig and it will always be a pig. No, Scott, Americans don't want some Tonya Harding do-over Republican brand. We've grown weary of drunk Republican bores, whether they introspect in mirrors the morning after or not. You don't deserve a second chance. As you say, "Never again."

Republicans need a good, long banishment for the crimes they committed. Guantanamo might have just enough cells opening up to keep us safe from the elephant menace.

Let the evildoers sober up in the prison of their own making with the same treatment they dished out - indefinite incarceration with zero contact to the outside world.

It is political exile, not rebranding, that Republicans need as they stare in mirror considering the full impact of the carnage they've wrought.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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