Favorite

Having it both ways 

The old proverb "you can't have it both ways" always had limited application in the political world, but in this year of the Tea Party, fanaticism and rage, the opposite has become de rigueur. You can most certainly have it both ways and you are stupid if you don't.

It may be a defense mechanism. Politicians feel compelled to pay some homage to any belief if is righteously enough held, even when it conflicts with what they have said or done or are about to say or do.

So Carl Paladino, the Tea Party-backed upstart who won the Republican nomination for governor in New York, delivered carefully prepared remarks to conservative rabbis denouncing homosexuals and people who told their children that there was nothing wrong with homosexuals. God did not create gays and lesbians, he said, and children should never be exposed to their existence or be taught to accept them. The rabbis applauded lustily. Police had arrested eight members of a street gang in the Bronx for beating and torturing gays.

Then Paladino talked to reporters and said he was not antigay, had homosexuals working for him and had no problem with homosexuality "whatsoever."

His remarks could hardly have been more antithetical, and you would expect that he would lose credibility with both sides. It will prove to be a stroke of genius.

The duplicity is a mark of the conservative revolution, although conservatives and Republicans are not the only practitioners. From Sarah Palin to Christine O'Donnell and all the revolutionaries who have wrested the Republican nomination from the GOP mainline, politicians learned that you could promise one thing, do or say the opposite and get credit for both. People will accept the part they like and disregard the other.

The artifice is pandemic in Arkansas. Pick a race — well, why not every race for Congress?

Congressman John Boozman, the GOP Senate candidate, sponsored the "Fair Tax" bill in the House, a 15-year-old proposal to replace most current federal taxes with a 30 percent sales tax on everything you buy, from a home to a haircut. (Yes, yes, I know that the 30 percent tax would be only 23 percent of the final after-tax price of a product.) Boozman said it would have marvelous benefits — getting rid of the IRS and all that. But when Sen. Blanche Lincoln jumped him about it and pointed out that it would be a huge tax increase on working families and ruinous to merchants Boozman said he had never cared that much for the Fair Tax and it was unfair of Lincoln to say that he favored it.

Lincoln could hardly condemn the hypocrisy. She may be its leading practitioner. She sponsored the union card-check bill, then denounced it and the unions that backed it. She voted for and against national health insurance reform. She said she cast the deciding vote for reform and then denied it. In some forums she takes credit for the law but has next to nothing to say in its defense.

But Lincoln is the one politician who does not get away with the guile. Neither side is ever forgiving. But she may simply have gone to the well too often.

Nothing brings out the deceit like Social Security, politics' famous third rail. Boozman supported efforts to privatize Social Security —i.e., allow younger workers to stop paying Social Security taxes and invest the money in commercial securities but he cries foul when Lincoln accuses him of it. He would never touch Social Security, he says. He is still backed by national groups that support privatization.

Over in the First District, Rick Crawford, the Republican candidate for U. S. representative, objected when his opponent, Chad Causey, ran ads accusing him of favoring some privatization. He told the papers that he had "never" favored it. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found a Facebook video in which he told Lonoke County Republicans that privatization was the solution to Social Security's problems. He signed a pledge for radio host Laura Ingraham promising to vote for privatization. When the Democrat-Gazette asked him about those remarks, he refused to say whether he favored privatization. It won't matter.

Then there's Karl Rove's cagey understudy, Tim Griffin. He told Republican groups that he was impressed with the Fair Tax legislation and would work for something like it. But when his congressional opponent, Joyce Elliott, tagged him for it he complained that he had never been exactly for it and foresaw some complications from it. The Democrat-Gazette editorial page said Elliott had demonstrated a lack of character by accusing Griffin of saying something that he was on record as saying. Now he's running commercials accusing Elliott of lacking character and citing the state's Republican newspaper as the authority.

As for Social Security, he says he's not especially a fan of privatization although Karl Rove hired him at the White House in 2005 to help sell Bush's Social Security privatization to a hostile Congress and public. Maybe he worked for something he opposed. Principle is a disposable commodity. Griffin is backed by the millionaires' Club for Growth, which promotes privatization.

This year anyway, shiftiness does work. Lying, too.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Attack the poor

    If there is a unifying motif to the labors of Congress and the Arkansas legislature this spring it is to make life harder and existence more intolerable for the poor.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • Nixon's EPA

    Poor Richard Nixon would be so hurt, and baffled. He went to his grave knowing that while his historical reputation was in tatters owing to the deceptions and corruption of Watergate, he at least could lay claim to a few of the great advances in human rights in Western history.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Trumpcare

    Ignorance may not exactly be bliss, President Trump and a lot of other politicians are discovering, but it is a good operating model as long as wisdom doesn't rear its ugly head.
    • Mar 9, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Attack the poor

    If there is a unifying motif to the labors of Congress and the Arkansas legislature this spring it is to make life harder and existence more intolerable for the poor.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • Nixon's EPA

    Poor Richard Nixon would be so hurt, and baffled. He went to his grave knowing that while his historical reputation was in tatters owing to the deceptions and corruption of Watergate, he at least could lay claim to a few of the great advances in human rights in Western history.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Trumpcare

    Ignorance may not exactly be bliss, President Trump and a lot of other politicians are discovering, but it is a good operating model as long as wisdom doesn't rear its ugly head.
    • Mar 9, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    • The South hasn't quit fighting. No, but Robert E Lee did and he could have…

    • on March 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation