The Congressional Republicans, like Thelma and Louise, seem determined to drive the battered American economic jalopy over the so-called fiscal cliff.
I’ve no idea what the consequences of Washington’s failure to agree on a tax and spending package will be, but most economists seem to agree that they won’t be good for either the American economy or anyone else’s.
The problem with the cinematic analogy I just used, upon reflection, is that the doomed ladies soaring over the Grand Canyon thought of themselves as victims of a male-dominated, uncaring, no-hope society, which doesn’t quite sound like any of the right-wing Congressional Republicans I’ve ever read about. Perhaps a more apt movie moment would be the final scene in Dr. Strangelove, in which Slim Pickens, commanding an errant B-52, rides the H-bomb to earth, waving a Stetson and yelling ‘Yippee!’.
We’re talking, by the way, about the same gang of nutters – give or take a few more or less sensible renegades – whose members are proud to be endorsed by the National Rifle Association, and who felt not a fleeting trace of embarrassment after Wayne LePierre’s demented response to Newtown. It’s the same crowd that believes – or wishes the rest of us to believe – that President Obama was born somewhere other than the United States and is a secret Muslim. The same lot who think that American (white) society is in danger of being engulfed by Hispanic immigrants – as if emancipating the blacks hadn’t been misguided enough. That believes women ought to relearn their place as vassals to their better halves. That fears their stalwart Christian virtues will be fatally undermined by the demands of homosexual ‘perverts’ with the temerity to enjoy the same marital privileges as ‘normal’ people.
Their old motto, ‘Better Dead than Red’, has been transmuted to ‘Better Dead than Brown, Equal or Queer’.
The Republican Party’s loss in a presidential election which, given the state of the economy, was there for the taking, taught America’s right-wing zealots nothing. It taught them nothing because they have no desire to learn. On every issue they hold dear – fiscal, social and moral – they feel righteously besieged, impelled to an absolutist, last-stand mentality. To hell with what the voters might think, or what the economic consequences might be, they proclaimed: We are right, and right will prevail.
The electorate, far from convinced by Obama’s first term, responded accordingly.
Barring some last-ditch compromise, we’ll all learn soon enough what falling off the fiscal cliff will mean for the prospects of a global economic recovery. That it may not be as bad as we fear neither excuses nor explains the obduracy of House Republicans, who actually believe that it will be far worse.
“Worse works for us,” they seem to be saying. “That will get us back into the White House next time around.”
Donald Chump for President? Maybe dear old Wayne LePierre?
Like Thelma and Louise, and dotty Slim Pickens, the Grand Old Party seems hell-bent on a spectacular suicide.