No room for independent thought in the GOP "big tent," just delusion and denial
Pledge-Junkies -- Isn't it time for Republican pledge junkies to get that monkey off their backs?
"I can quit anytime I want to; famous last words that came back to haunt you." -- recording artist MF Doom
I must admit that at times I've succumbed to the allure of the pledge. I'd break off a few bucks every now and then to send to my local NPR affiliate hoping against hope that my meager contribution would in some way help shorten the pledge season. As a kid, I reveled in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at school, especially during outdoor assemblies where you could really belt it out. The compulsion may have been familial -- in a different sort of way. My mom seemed, at times, to project an intractable urge to relentlessly Pledge our home's wooden coffee and dining tables, apparently hoping they'd wind up with the kind of shine you could see your face in. Lemon Pledge remains her favorite. But those pledge-related activities pale in comparison to the pledge-based agenda the GOP seems to believe will help the party clean the Democrats' collective clock in 2012.
For any number of reasons, it seems impossible for anyone who engages in evidence-based analysis to transcend the conclusion that the GOP pledge-a-palooza which has sucked in several of its presidential candidates, is aptly symbolic of the kind of misguided political theatre that is fueling the party's stupefying descent into fringe-relevancy.
By now, most of those following these matters understand that prior to its eventual removal, signatories to the Marriage Vow Pledge were totally cool with an intellectually dyslexic parable (to put it mildly) premising that black children were more fortunate living in two-parent families during slavery than black children who today live in a single-parent environment.
The pledge game, as put forth by GOP-leaning conservative special interest groups and Republican elected officials including members of Congress, is fairly simple. It's a bit like Match.com. Got a fiscally- or morally-sanctimonious group, organization or the like in need of some quick (and potentially lucrative) publicity, and a conservative political opportunist looking to hook up with a hot button issue on which to raise his or her profile? Certainly there's a pledge for that.
Take abortion. If you're a Republican who believes that in America, the abortion position of every single elected official, federal judge, cabinet or Executive appointee should tilt medieval, the 4-point Susan B. Anthony List Pro Life Pledge is there for you. Alienate female voters? Fuggedaboutit. The Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin wing of the female Republican base get it. Signers of that pledge include Michele Bachmann; Ron Paul; Tim Pawlenty; Newt Gingrich; and Thaddeus McCotter.
Tired of the government forcing health insurers to include your 25-year-old Play Station wiz of a son under your plan's coverage? Or maybe you just want to spare your constituents from the "horrors" of Obama's stinking health care. There's a pledge for that. You'll find it with "Casino" John Boehner and the rest of the "repeal and replace" crowd at the GOP's Pledge to America sign-up table.
Do you harbor the sneaky suspicion that for some reason, the U.S. Constitution just don't seem to be protected enough? Well, you're not alone. So do the folks who rock those snazzy three-cornered hats: the Tea Party Patriots. In fact, "Protect the Constitution" is numero uno on the Tea Party's 10-point Contract from America Pledge.
Maybe you are one of those married Republicans who believe that the vows you made at your wedding are insufficient to guarantee that you'll remain faithful to your spouse. Again, there's a pledge for that. The 14-point Marriage Vow Pledge created by the social conservative group The Family Leader, is now available as a back-up to your previously stated wedding vows. Oh, and by the way, it also calls for the rejection of that pesky widow-maker/marriage destroyer known as Sharia law. Bachman's was the first GOP presidential candidate to sign on with that one. Santorum is also a signer. Oddly enough though, Newt Gingrich declined the opportunity to sign.
But in the present political environment within the GOP, if you really want to step up your game, you've got to get your John Hancock on one or both of the two currently "it" pledges: Grover Norquist's 2-point Tax Payer Protection Pledge; and Jim DeMint's (R-SC) 3-point Cut, Cap, and Balance Budget Pledge. Signing on to either of the two centerpieces of fiscal simple-mindedness serves notice that you share Paul Ryan's moist fantasy of stripping the government of the means to pay the costs of government, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; and, are down with the Tea Party position that the financial collapse of the U.S. and the rest of the world is preferable to raising your taxes by even one plugged nickel.
It's one of the points made in an editorial titled "America's Debt: Shame on Them" recently published in the Economist part of which reads: "The sticking-point (of the budget debate) is not on the spending side. It is because the vast majority of Republicans, driven on by the wilder-eyed members of their party and the cacophony of conservative media, are clinging to the position that not a single cent of deficit reduction must come from a higher tax take. This is economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical."