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Steve Lunetta: Politics playing 'Schneider!'

Right About Now

Posted: February 21, 2010 10:20 p.m.
Updated: February 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.

My kids used to play this incredibly dorky game in their earlier years. When they were traveling in the car, they would look for the big, orange container trucks that have the name “Schneider” emblazoned across the front.

Upon finding said truck, they would yell “Schneider” and hit their brother. I’m sure many families with boys had similar games.  

Rush Limbaugh’s family probably yelled “capitalist” and punched a liberal. The family of Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., probably yelled “hoosier” and then quit playing the game.

No matter which family played the game, someone always ended up crying in the end.

As I look at the political scene for the coming year, I can’t decide exactly who will end up crying the most. The Democrats are going to take a major beating since President Barack Obama has been the best thing to happen to the Republican Party since — Jimmy Carter?

I have heard Obama described as a “post turtle.” Imagine an ordinary turtle, about 6 inches in diameter, sitting on a 3-inch-round fence post, legs protruding from all four corners, and a fully extended head looking about.

You know the turtle didn’t get there by itself. It has no idea how it got there and has no concept how to get out of its predicament.

And the people that put it there are bewildered as to why they did it in the first place.

Any politician up for election this year may also end up in tears. Smarter politicians are gettin’ while the gettin’s good. Bayh is a case in point. Bayh’s recent resignation, citing Washington’s partisanship, is just another in a series of “elected official flight.”
Smelling the immense dissatisfaction of the American people with their representatives, many have chosen to retire with honor than suffer the indignity of a lost election.  

But one must ask a simple question — instead of resigning, why not just do the Will of the People? Americans are realizing that massive bailouts for failed industries, uncontrolled illegal immigration and rising taxes in the face of financial hardship were incredibly stupid policy. Why not simply listen to us?

Americans have yelled “Schneider” and they are looking for someone to hit.

Unfortunately, another casualty of this year’s political turmoil may be parts of the Republican party. While energy flows back into the reinvigorated GOP, the energy is different. Its changed.

The tea partiers are not interested in politics as usual. Combining both conservative and libertarian values, the movement seeks common sense change in both Washington and state houses. The conservative politician who speaks of smaller government then turns around and votes for higher taxes will find the partiers none too pleased.

Party lines don’t mean much to the tea partiers. And, frankly, that may be a good thing. Blue Dog Democrats have shown that common sense can be shared on both sides of the aisle.

But most importantly, GOP leadership must recognize that it cannot be “business as usual.” Tea partiers will come back to the fold but on their own terms. And they will not be silent.

As Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar has recently shown us, another group that will not be silenced are the Minutemen and their various allies and incarnations. As the economy soured, many Americans realized that illegal immigration was no longer the benign wart that could be ignored.  

Illegal immigration has tremendous costs at all levels of society and we can no longer afford it. Republican leadership can no longer play dumb and ignore the problem. A strengthening chorus is coming from a large part of the Republican base.

The Republican party has small cracks that could potentially grow into fissures if not carefully managed. Republican leaders must listen to the tea partiers and Minutemen to avoid disaster — namely, four more years of President Post Turtle.

Finally, we have the biggest opportunity for tears — the lack of a true Republican leader. The Bush years and the McCain candidacy showed us how devoid of leaders the GOP is right now. Our ideas are better but we need someone to carry them for us.

Who will rise at this critical juncture? The fatally flawed and media-challenged Sarah Palin? The photogenic but Cajun-tainted Bobby Jindal? Or maybe some old Senate hack who claims its “his turn”? Only time will tell.

Until then, let’s hope the game we are playing this year ends with a united country that is back on track for financial prosperity and common sense.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. He can be reached at “Right About Now” appears on Mondays in The Signal.


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