Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 1999 /28 Tishrei, 5760
This is, at least, the conclusion that may logically be drawn from two recent events involving Republican leadership. The first event began when the noted Republican historian, Patrick J. Buchanan, came out with a book arguing that the United States was not threatened by the Third Reich after 1940 and that America's interests would have been better served had the Allies stayed out of harm's way and let Hitler and Stalin "tear each other to pieces."
Morally this argument is obscene; historically, it is absurd. Hitler clearly expressed his long-term intentions to wage war against the United States, and in 1939 and 1940 ordered up ships and planes -- the Messerschmitt 264 the Nazis called the "Amerika-Bomber" -- intended for that war. As has been pointed out by the historian Norm Goda, the Nazis also embarked in 1940 on a campaign to obtain bases in Africa and the Canary Islands as part of what Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, called a "huge program . . . of an anti-American character." In 1940 Germany signed a military pact with Italy and Japan aimed at the United States, and Hitler declared war on America the instant the Japanese attack made it practicable.
Apart from some admirable statements of dismissal and scorn from John McCain, the GOP response to Buchanan is best summed up by the remarks of the party's putative standard-bearer, George W. Bush. "It's politics," Bush told the Associated Press. "I don't want Pat Buchanan to leave the party. . . . I'm going to need every vote I can get among Republicans to win the election."
It is true that a bolt by Buchanan to the Reform Party would hurt Bush's chances of winning the presidency, but that damage is nothing compared with the long-term harm that Bush and his fellow shortsighters are inflicting upon themselves. As the century closes on the great American-led victory of democracy over both fascism and communism, the Republican Party seems bent on positioning itself as the voice of those opposed to American leadership, and as the voice of party interest over the national interest. It does not seem to have occurred to the Republicans that most Americans are proud of the part their country played in the long, hard, good fight against the evil empires. It does not seem to have occurred to them that Americans did not flock to see a movie called "Tell Private Ryan to Drop Dead."
The other stunningly stupid Republican stunt in recent weeks was the doomed drive led by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay to cook up a "balanced" budget by spreading out over 12 months what are now annual lump-sum payments to working poor families under the earned income tax credit program, thus pushing some $8.7 billion worth of payments into fiscal 2001. The earned income tax credit has been long championed by Republicans as the proper way to help the working poor. The program helps millions of working families stay afloat and off welfare: Last year, nearly 20 million families received an average of $1,797. DeLay would jeopardize this for the sake of an accounting trick.
It is hard, offhand, to think of an idea better calculated to cement the impression of Republicans as shortsighted, nasty and brutish. Conservative policy experts were appalled at the proposal. "It victimizes the poor for the sake of a budget gimmick and almost destroys the [earned income tax credit] as a public policy," said Robert Rector, a welfare and poverty analyst with the Heritage Foundation.
Still, DeLay felt more damage could be done, and he did it. "Working people don't need help with their annual budget; they need help with their monthly budget," he empathetically explained. "Rather than getting one check -- and who knows what they do with that one check once a year -- they get a monthly income." (Oh, you man of the people, you.) Candidate Bush rightly if self-interestedly denounced this attempt "to balance the budget on the backs of the poor." Nonsense, sniffed DeLay, "they don't lose a dime." There, that ought to take care of that.
Republicans spent 60 years as the minority party because they managed to
convince voters that they held the interests of the wealthy and of the party
ahead of the interests of the working man and the nation. Ronald Reagan
transformed the GOP into a nascent majority party, a party that spoke for
triumphant interventionism abroad and the cares of the working family at
home. Who would have guessed that the Republican heart still secretly
pined for the good old