Dark Days Await American Politics

You know that adversity has well and truly come to the forest when the pawpaw fruit tree takes the floor at a gathering of the denizens and demands to be counted as one its stalwarts.
You know that it is a dark era in American politics when the prohibitive front runner for the Presidential ticket of the Republican Party –hereafter the GOP, as in Grand Old Party – is the foul-mouthed Donald Trump, his immediate challenger is the venal Ted Cruz, and the other contestant whom it would be courteous to call a challenger is the robotic Marco Rubio.

These three of the four candidates still standing are spawns of the extreme right wing that has seized the heart and soul of the GOP over the past three decades, ably supported by a string of ultra-conservative think-tanks, so-called evangelicals, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, a posse of millionaires determined to use money to bend the political   process to their will, and a Supreme Court that is for all practical purposes the high council of the GOP in judicial robes.  They are creatures of the people who produced Sarah Palin and similar aberrations.
Now the very forces that created them are aghast and flailing desperately to block the frontrunner and promote one of the other two main contenders the least of three evils.
Trump outscores Cruz and Rubio in notoriety and villainy, but both seem cut from the same cloth.
Take Cruz first.
In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was prosecuted for stealing a calculator from a store. The crime carried a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors mistakenly treated Haley as a habitual offender. The judge did not detect the error, and sentenced Haley to a jail term of 16 years.
The mistake was eventually discovered and Haley sought relief.  Ted Cruz, then solicitor-general of Texas, would have none of it and petitioned the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.
“Justice Anthony Kennedy’s interjection during oral arguments was telling.  “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” he asked.  Haley was subsequently released. But by then, he had spent six years in jail.
New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks cited this case in characterising Ted Cruz as “a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace.” Cruz’s behaviour in the Haley case, he wrote,”is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.”
Until he was sandbagged in one debate by Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor who has since dropped out of the race, Marco Rubio, the first –term U. S. Senator for Florida with the razor- thin résumé, carried on as if he was running against Obama, whom he addressed in the most disrespectful terms and accused of the heinous crime of trying to “change” America.
The election, he said repeatedly, was about who was ready to serve as commander-in-chief from Day One, as if being the son of a bar tender and a hotel maid, a circumstance he always brought up, was the ultimate preparation for that supreme office.   That is how far gone he is in his delusion.  Though running a distant third, he has even urged Cruz to get out of the race and leave him to face Trump.  He says he is the only Republican candidate who can beat the likely Democratic candidate, Clinton, in a presidential election.
It is to these two, Cruz and Rubio, that the GOP establishment has turned for salvation.
They are pouring tens of millions of dollars into television advertising across key states, portraying Trump, for whom there is no sympathy in this corner, as a figure without any redeeming value.
They had looked on with glee as Trump challenged President Barack Obama’s American citizenship, claiming that the people he had sent to Hawaii, Obama’s homestate, had come up with findings that would shock everyone.  He never released the alleged findings, and the news media did not challenge him to produce them or shut up.
They had looked on approvingly as their ranks obstructed one Obama initiative after another, treated him with the utmost contempt, cast him as a Moslem terrorist-sympathiser, threatened to impeach him for “treason” and sought to de-legitimise him in every way inconceivable – all in an effort “to take the country back.”  They did not stir when First Lady Michelle Obama was portrayed in their media as first cousin of a chimpanzee that escaped from a zoo in Oklahoma.
While all this was going on, Mitt Romney, President Obama’s opponent in the 2012 presidential election, would only say that he would not have used the language of Obama’s calumniators.  The calumny itself apparently sat well with him.
In that election Romney actively sought and revelled in Trump’s endorsement, lauding the property developer as one of the most successful businessmen in America and as someone who has created thousands of jobs.
Now, irony of ironies, it is the same Romney leading the Stop Trump brigade, denouncing Trump as a phony and a fraud, and as morally unfit to lead America.
Romney apparently does not realise that he is one of the elite the movement conservatives have rejected to embrace the Trumps and Cruzes and Rubios – the voters whose minds they had poisoned with their racist rants, their homophobia, their rejection of science, their craven bid to disenfranchise African American and Hispanic voters, and their perversion of Holy Writ.
Romney has little following and even less credibility. The health insurance scheme he instituted as governor of Massachusetts was so successful that it served as the template for what has come to be known as Obamacare.
Yet, sensing the undercurrent of reflex opposition to Obamacare from the GOP camp, he vowed in 2012 that if elected president, he would repeal it in his first day in office.  Such is the cynicism, the utter lack of principle that drives those who created and now seek desperately to  ditch the monsters haunting and threatening to devour them.
For all I care, they can stop Trump and foist either Cruz or Rubio or any other demagogue on the American electorate in November.  The centre has shifted from under their feet.  Long live their distemper.


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