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October 20th, 2008


by Ed Gold

The GOP: In need of repair.

This has been an “Alice in Wonderland” presidential campaign, complete with a full moon. While the nation is faced with the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression, involved in two wars, trapped by an addiction for oil and faced with a collapsing infrastructure, the Republicans have their gunslinger from the north-her eye on the presidency, telling crowds in North Carolina that henceforth she only wants to talk in “pro-American” sections of the nation.

As unemployment this year climbs over three quarters of a million, and further millions are fearful of losing their homes, the GOP fills the nation’s phone lines with rantings challenging Barack Obama’s patriotism by suggesting his collusion with terrorists. One of that rare species, a moderate Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has publicly asked her candidate, John McCain, to stop running that garbage in her state.

As Yeats once put it, “the center doesn’t hold” in today’s Republican Party. In fact, it is difficult to find a center in the Grand Old Party, which seems to be currently controlled by two elements: the far right and the extreme right.

Contributing to this horrendous scene is a wacky congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bochmann, who appears regularly on TV insisting that many congressional Democrats are un-American and should be investigated.

Then we have McCain warning us that Obama is not only cozy with terrorists, but has turned socialist by advocating the spreading of wealth in America—ignoring the fact that the wealth has already been conspicuously spread over the past eight years, a giant share going to the top one percent at the expense of the bottom 60 percent.

Ironically, the Bush response to the financial collapse involves huge government investments in private companies, the most obvious socialist activity we’ve ever experienced in this capitalistic society.

The full moon shone brightly in Washington when several of the top dogs of our fallen economic giants showed up for a hearing in the House of Representatives.

The dour head of Lehman Bros. said he hadn’t slept a wink since his historically famous firm went belly up. Asked if he made any mistakes, he answered in the negative. He added that rumors indicating he had received bonuses of $500 million over the last six years were incorrect; he had only received $350 million.

His counterpart at AIG, back from his company’s $400,000 traditional entrepreneurial party on the West Coast, whose company has received an injection of $85 billion from the government, admitted AIG had lost money a year ago. He noted during questioning that the board of directors had nevertheless decided to ignore the loss and give out bonuses. Reluctantly, he accepted $5 million for his poor performance.

On the political front, McCain has added to the surreal atmosphere by creating a character he calls “Joe the Plumber,” a man epitomizing the very best in the free enterprise system. Joe does exist and he once told Obama—who was campaigning in Ohio—that he intended to earn $250,000 as a plumber and that Obama’s tax plan would punish people in that earning bracket. Obama’s plan gives relief to workers earning under $250,000.

McCain complained in the last presidential debate that Obama in effect was killing the free enterprise spirit by increasing taxes in the higher income bracket.

It turns out that Joe was a blowhard with libertarian tendencies. He opposes social security, does not have a plumber’s license, has a lien against his holdings and has little prospect of owning his own business. He currently earns about $40,000, which would give him a tax break under the Obama plan.

The facts have not stopped McCain from declaring Joe a hero of capitalism who was being discouraged by Obama from getting rich.

McCain spoke about Joe before a TV audience of about 50 million, and the media flocked to Joe’s house the next day. McCain then earned the Chutzpah Award of the campaign by accusing Obama of invading Joe’s private life.

Meanwhile, McCain’s running mate continues to claim that rural America is the real America, as opposed to urban America, which is filled with devious characters, bad politicians, all kinds of ethnic and racial types, and worst of all, community organizers.

No wonder Colin Powell could no longer keep quiet. He said diplomatically that his party had gotten too “narrow” in its message, and was harming the nation by making the phony Obama-terrorist connection as a centerpiece of the Republican campaign. He was also upset by Republicans who continued to insist Obama is a Muslim. He added the Barracuda was clearly not ready for prime time in Washington.

It has been clear for some time that the Rockefeller branch of the Republican Party has been virtually extinct. Powell may have given courage to all those to the left of the Alaskan headhunter who may have wondered whether they could vote for Obama and still be considered good Americans.

With Powell on board and a new bankroll of $150 million, Obama may well make history by winning a basket of red states, and thereby sending McCain back to the Senate and the hockey mom back to her dogsleds.

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