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Kevin Buck: The dog days of discourse

Democratic Voices

Posted: August 31, 2009 4:49 p.m.
Updated: September 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Now is the summer of our discontent, made glorious by the disaffected whines of the GOP. Their stern alarms changed our merry meetings, their dreadful marches befouled delightful measures.

Apologies to William Shakespeare for the paraphrase of King Richard III, but this has indeed been a rancorous and ultimately counterproductive spring and summer of last-gasp protests by a stricken and fearful political party.

The Bard of Avon appears prescient in Macbeth, as the Republicans were indeed "full of sound and fury; signifying nothing."

In April we were treated to a terrific bit of political theater, Republican tea-baggers protesting government and taxes in general and the economic bailout in particular.

They could not comprehend why Barack Obama and the Democrats wanted to spend on public works, instead of cutting taxes, to revive and resuscitate the Bush administration's collapsing economy.

The protests were sponsored by Republican Astroturf organizations, right-wing talk radio and Fox News and were all the rage for a couple of news cycles.

Despite the howls of outrage by hundreds and sometimes thousands of tea-baggers, the Obama administration went ahead with its Keynesian assault on the Bush recession and the economy is responding and rebounding.

Americans are no longer obsessing about a worldwide depression and we are returning to our default mode of getting and spending.

Next up came one of the most amusing, pointless and yet oddly compelling political conspiracy theories in ages, the Birther movement, which contends that President Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore barred by the constitution from holding the office of president, because he is not a naturalized citizen.

The fact that his mother was an American citizen does not concern them; some American soil residency requirement loophole allows them to continue the cacophony.

I'm not going to get into the veracity of these claims.

Hawaii is convinced the president was born on American soil, and that's good enough for me and the rest of the reality-based community.

Besides, a man who has the power to travel back in time and take out birth announcements in two Hawaiian newspapers cannot be defeated by conservative mortals anyway.

The real question is; What do the Birthers see as their end game?

A Ken Starr chamber investigation is not going to happen and the Democrats are not going to hold impeachment hearings any time in this century.

It is again just more of Macbeth's sound and fury; signifying nothing, the perfect metaphor for the Republican Party going into the 2010 mid-term elections.

There are 24-hour news cycles to be filled and conservative talk radio gods to be appeased, but there will be nothing accomplished in the real world by this Internet-driven teapot tempest.

Everybody needs a hobby though, even hard-working conservatives, so have at it, ladies and gentlemen.

Now if the Birthers are not bringing enough crazy to the party for you, we have the Deathers foisting death panels, the latest right-wing meme, into the current health care debate.

Again, as with the Birthers, it is pointless to argue with the true believers.

Any person who thinks government bureaucrats are going to arbitrarily decide who will live and who will die, probably also believe George Bush was a great president, Barack Obama was born in Kenya and tax cuts will solve any problem.

Besides, that job is currently being done quite well by private insurance company bureaucrats.

Here's the thing: If end-of-life counseling is the definition of a death panel (and it is these provisions in the health care plan that set the Deathers off down this ideological tangent), then we have had death panels for years.

Living wills and hospices allow a person to dictate dignified treatment preferences in end of life situations; they are sensible and welcome options to have in what is always a stressful and emotional situation.

If Republicans want to waste time, money and political capital on windmill tilting, I have no problem with that.

Personally, I think their time would be better spent working on Sarah Palin's nascent presidential campaign, because right now Mitt Romney is the 2010 frontrunner and he is (gasp!) a moderate from Massachusetts.

William Shakespeare's King Lear perfectly sums up the Republican summer of discontent with these words, "Nothing can come of nothing: speak again."

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.


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