Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"God's" Political Machine Bosses

Pat Robertson endorsed Rudolph Giuliani for president today. Given the state of the Republican party, Robertson, who built and sold a media empire, and, a little bit like the late William Randolph Hearst, tried unsuccessfully to gain elective office, does have some influence among those who have distrusted Giuliani on the religious right. Giuliani is or rather has been pro-Choice (you couldn't get elected to anything on a city wide basis in New York if you weren't) but he has been, to say the least, fudging the issue, as he makes his way through the Republican field. Robertson stated that Giuliani has "assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia." Among other things, that is a surefire way to judicially repeal Roe v. Wade and who knows what else(maybe the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Securities Exchange Commission Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965, 1968). Given the "judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia" anything is possible

In the 1920s, Sinclair Lewis wrote a great novel about a more sympathetic ecclesiastical entertainer and hustler, Elmer Gantry, who was in it for the money and didn't, like Pat Robertson, accuse feminists of practicing witchcraft, being lesbians, and most of all, socialists seeking to destroy capitalism. Elmer never said that supporting Gay Rights might lead to the Lord to unleash great storms, terrorists, even meteors on the Godless secular humanists. But those were simpler times, when Cal Coolidge said that the business of America was business and many of Pat's like minded fundamentalist evangelists claimed that hell would freeze over if the Catholic Democrat, Al Smith reached the White House (not to mention a possible Papal invasion across the Atlantic through an underground tunnel). Fortunately, Giuliani, while an Italian American Catholic, is a Republican, very different not only from Smith but from the Italian people who, along with many Jewish and non Jewish Eastern Europeans, were victims of the racist exclusionary quota system for immigration that right-wing Republicans, with the active support of fundamentalist evangelists, instituted in the National Origins Act of 1924.

Robertson went on to say that the major issue of the day was "the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists" (rhetoric that Osama and his friends not only understand but often employ). Even though the Republicans are in deep trouble politically because of their disastrous policies on a great many levels and in a great many areas, polls still show that they are regarded as better on the issue of "terrorism" than the Democrats.

Unfortunately most Americans don't know or have forgotten that the Al Qaeda group came into existence in Afghanistan in 1988 as an expansion of the foreign jihadists whom the Reagan administration and its CIA actively funded, recruited, and called "freedom fighters" in its counter-revolutionary war against the Communist led government of Afghanistan and its Soviet military allies, The Democrats never in all the "official investigations" of September 11 really asked the right questions about Osama bin Laden's extensive CIA-Pakistani ISI connections through the 1980s when he was the leader and fund-raiser for the large contingent of Saudi jihadists, the core group for Al Qaeda. Nor did the Democrats really ask why, after bin Laden turned against the U.S. in the post Soviet period, U.S. intelligence was more interested in covering up its previous relationship with him and in engaging in the sort of cowboy foreign policy associated with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, that is, developing special forces to hunt him down and kill him, rather than following the money to Saudi Arabia, acting against the Taliban government in Afghanistan whose major protectors were the Saudis and the Pakistanis, and in effect crippling Al Qaeda before they undertook the September 11 attacks. Much of this is part of the record, and scholarship and media in many countries, including France and India in terms of bin Laden's Pakistani and CIA history have long recorded this. Only ignorance of the facts and a simpleminded belief that militaristic rhetoric (which the Republicans have long used) constitutes a strong foreign policy explains these poll numbers, and both progressives fighting against the Bush administration and the Democrats themselves, for their own interests should be actively educating the public on these issues instead of avoiding them and letting the Republicans profit politically form the September 11 disaster their policies played a central role in creating.

As for Giuliani, the fact that he was Mayor of New York and was on the scene shortly after the attack (when Bush was not to be seen) made him look very good, even though no one can really say that he did anything of substance in the crisis. The country needed a symbol and a hero and Giuliani was it, a little bit like King George and Queen Mary in Britain staying in the Palace during the Blitz and going among the people to give their sympathy, but not like Winston Churchill, rallying the people to fight back, or any serious political leader anywhere. The United States elects a president, not a figurehead King to look good at ceremonies.

Robertson's endorsement of Giuliani is, as I see it, a cynical attempt to maintain the influence of the religious right in both the Republican party and in subsequent administrations. It should encourage even secular Republicans to realize both how low their party has fallen and also how comical the portrayal of Giuliani as a "liberal" Republican really is. It should energize progressives to fight against any new religious-secular right coalition behind Giuliani, whom a section of the religious right that Robertson represents today hopes will become a sort of poor man's Ronald Reagan. It should also encourage centrists and independents to understand that a vote for Giuliani is a vote to sustain the Bush status quo, with the same producers and directors and a different cast of characters.

Norman Markowitz

1 comment:

Joel said...

I think Robertson's endorsement only highlights deep divisions in the fsr-right religious camp over the Republican Party. "Dr." James Dobson, whose hateful, homophobic spouting reach millions daily, has stated he'd never endorse Giuliani, mainly because of Giuliani's habit of dressing up as a woman in public and professing pro-gay sentiments and such liberal policies.