Why Are We Still Listening to Republicans?


 Mitch McConnell: Shameless Shill for the Plutocrats


 Even as Republicans attempt to cast themselves as defenders of the working class their top ranking member of the House Energy Committee, Congressman Joe Barton from Texas, called the President’s magnificent achievement in getting BP to put up a fund of 20 billion dollars to compensate victims of the oil spill,  a “shake down” of  private business by the government. The fact that the fund is open ended, can be increased if the situation requires it, includes a separate fund of 100 million dollars to pay lost wages for oil rig workers during the moratorium on drilling, and will be managed by Ken Feinberg a highly skilled independent arbiter who managed the 9/11 compensation payments failed to impress Mr. Barton

       The Republican Congressman went on to say the agreement was one of the worst tragedies he had witnessed in his life time, and that he was ashamed to live in a country where this could happen.  Then he had the unmitigated gall to apologize to BP executives on national television. These comments horrified the Republican leadership because they well know that it would be disastrous for the GOP to be portrayed as the defenders of BP against the people of the Gulf coast – a Republican stronghold – and Barton was called on the carpet and ordered to go out on the floor and take back everything he had just said. 

    Yet it is important to understand that this was no gaffe on the part of Joe Barton, it is true to the bankrupt ideology of the GOP. It is echoed in the opinions of Minnesota Congressperson Michel Bachman, along with over 100 others in the House Republican Study Committee – who called the compensation deal “A Chicago style shakedown” – and this thinking resounds in the opinions of the prolific pundit Pat Buchanan as well as the mass voice and ideological policeman of the Republican Party: Rush Limbaugh. 

  Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Senator and Republican leader in the Senate, has distanced himself from Congressman Barton’s statement, but he still clings to his anti-government mantra in his attempt to blame the Obama Administration rather than BP for the failure to stop the leak and clean up the mess.  The logical implication of his argument is that if we had just left it to BP everything would be alright.

       I can envision no action that more clearly demonstrates the GOP’s contempt for the working class – even the BP execs were embarrassed by Barton’s apology and quickly disassociated   themselves from it – and it magnifies the paradox of the masses of white southern workers passionately supporting the Republicans.        The media air heads have made much of BP’s Chairman’s declaration that they “care about the little people,” which was a somewhat awkward expression of concern from a man whose native language is Swedish.

  But the real story here is the contempt for “the little people” expressed by the Republicans who think that people facing bankruptcy and struggling to put bread on the table should have to go to court and pursue individual claims against a mammoth international corporation!  The Republicans attempt to play the role as leaders of a populist revolt in league with the “Tea Party” buffoons, whose racist posters routinely attempt to demonize our President, while shilling for corporate interests, are but the latest example of political charlatans employing the race issue to get poor whites to act against their best interests. 

  Ever since the civil rights movement succeeded in destroying the legal racial caste system in the southern states the Republicans have played on white resentment for political advantage. In President Obama – whose election is a recurrent nightmare for this crowd – they have the ultimate racial villain.  And they intend to make the most of it.  Alas, the upshot of all this is that the Grand Obstructionist Party will oppose anything and everything President Obama does – even if the fate of the nation is at stake. Hence all of this begs the question: why is any patriotic American still listening to Republicans?




Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

June 21, 2010


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