Friday, March 26, 2010

The wholesale irrelevance of public opinion

Glenn Greenwald has been in his cups lately in drawing attention to the rank hypocrisy of America's wonderful rightwing "patriots." In "The GOP's newfound love of public opinion," he describes the Republicans who expressed outrage over the manner in which the health care bill was handled by the Democrats.

Greenwald writes, "One Republican leader after the next stood up yesterday to depict the health care bill as a grave threat to democracy because it was enacted in the face of disapproval from a majority of Americans." He cites Rep. John Boehner, who claimed, "We have failed to listen to America ... failed to reflect the will of our constituents. And when we fail to reflect that will -- we fail ourselves and we fail our country." Not to be outdone by Boehner's bluster, Rep. Mike Pence thundered, "We're breaking with our finest traditions ... the consent of the governed."

Can you imagine such dutiful concern for the people's preferences, coming from Republicans? These hysterical outbursts were instigated by the notion that the health care bill should never have been deliberated, because it was opposed by a majority of Americans. Greenwald retorts, "Of course, these are the same exact people who spent years funding the Iraq War without end and without conditions even in the face of extreme public opposition, which consistently remained in the 60-65% range." He reminds us that "the wholesale irrelevance of public opinion was a central tenet of GOP rule for eight years."

He recalls a recurring theme of the contemptuous Vice President Cheney who, when told in 2008 that two-thirds of American citizens said the Iraq war was not worth fighting, simply brushed off the people's opinion. Cheney expressed the prevailing GOP view of the American public, that their opinion did not matter in the slightest. Greenwald writes, "The view of our political class generally is that public opinion plays a role in how our government functions only during elections, and after that, those who win are free to do whatever they want regardless of what 'the people' want."

George W. Bush actually spelled this out by explaining, in 2005, why no one in his administration had been held accountable for the fraud that led to the war. He obnoxiously claimed that the 2004 election itself was that "accountability moment." Greenwald asserts, "Watching these same Republicans now pretend that public opinion must be honored and that our democracy is imperiled when bills are passed without majority support is truly nauseating."

And, again, in another column, "Rampant patriotism breaches on America's right," Greenwald cites the rightwing Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds who, during the Bush years accused opponents of the Iraq war of being "unpatriotic" and, in fact, committing "treason." Reynolds said of those who opposed the war, "They're not so much 'antiwar' as just on the other side."

However, today, Reynolds sees things differently. Greenwald quotes him: "If I were the Israelis, not only would I bomb Iran, but I'd do so in such a way as to create as much trouble for China, Russia, Europe and the United States as possible." Observes Greenwald, "Calling on a foreign country to act in a way that creates 'as much trouble as possible' for your
own country seems to be the very definition of being 'on the other side,' does it not?" And, "The action Reynolds is endorsing -- Israel's bombing of Iran -- likely would, according to America's top military official, directly result in the
deaths of American soldiers."

That official is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, who warned on March 11, that an Israeli attack on Iran might lead to escalation, undermine the region's stability and endanger the lives of Americans in the Persian Gulf "who are under the threat envelope right now."

"By Reynolds' own standards," reasons Greenwald, "blithely endorsing such outcomes would seem, definitively, to place
one 'on the other side.'" So, who's "unpatriotic" now, and just who's guilty of "treason?"

During Bush times, when war opponents criticized Gen. David Petraeus, they were denounced for "endangering the troops," through their lack of respect for Petraeus' command. Yet, after Petraeus' recent remarks about how Israel's conflict with the Palestinians endangers the lives of American troops, the ADL's Abraham Foxman and others of his ilk condemned Petraeus, calling his remarks "dangerous and counterproductive," just stopping short of dumping the "anti-Semite" label on him.

Greenwald contends that Petraeus' remarks were, indeed, counterproductive "for those who want the U.S. to blindly support Israeli actions even when doing so directly harms American interests." What kind of person, asks Greenwald, would condemn the Commander in charge of the welfare of our troops "all in the name of serving the interests of a foreign government?" It is the peak of hypocrisy that the rightwing super patriots are ready to revoke their standards when it comes to Israel, and readily do so at the expense of their own country.

No comments: