In critiquing First Lady Michelle Obama’s convention speech, the arm of the GOP named, facetiously, Fox “News,” was caught a little flat-footed: She didn’t (overtly, anyway) disparage Romney, didn’t give them anything much to take out of context and run with, and delivered her speech with charm, warmth, grace and skill. So what’s a body on Fox to do when propping up the GOP (and, in particular, its dismal presidential candidate) is one’s reason for living – and the Dems refused to offer them any real fodder? Ah-ha, run with the “big government” theme; it’s always a red-meat winner.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace praised First Lady Obama’s speech, but had to pierce the flesh just a bit:
“I’ve got to say, listening closely to the speech, one of the things that struck me was it was all about government. When she talked at the beginning about the people who exemplified the best of the American spirit, she talked about teachers and first responders and the military. All very admirable professions. But all government. When she talked about ways to build the middle class, it was all about the auto bailout and student loans and health care reform. Once again, all government programs. And that was a subtle subtext to the entire speech.”
“All government programs” – how dismaying. After all, First Lady Obama described government programs that allowed people like her and President Obama to come from humble beginnings and yet become highly educated, programs that allow children to step onto the playing field of life’s opportunities, programs that reunited laid-off workers with their auto industry paychecks, programs that provide medical insurance to millions of uninsured people in the country, programs that protect us when we’re sick, take care of us in our old age, and provide the comfort of a safety net beneath us. Horrifying.
The part that’s a hoot, though, is the scornful, sneering derision from the GOP about government programs.
First responders and teachers and the military – pssh, to Republicans, nothing but low-level feeders at the public trough. But speaking of feeding at the public trough . . . how many Republicans have been engaged in government work their entire careers? Mr. “Small Government is the Bomb!” Paul Ryan immediately comes to mind: From his humble beginnings, attending college by virtue of his late father’s Social Security survival benefits, to his entire career (with the minute exception of driving the Wienermobile) as a government employee feeding at the public trough, his life screams “big government.” For Pete’s sake, this guy – THIS guy – requested funds from the Affordable Care Act, a law that he vows to repeal. Michele Bachmann – another shrieker that “big government is an evil thing” – has spent her entire career in government work as well, first in a position with the IRS, and then moving on to hide behind bushes and crusade against gays as the most strident, right-wing, fingernails-on-a-chalkboard voice in Congress. And, adding big government to big government, Bachmann also sought federal funds for a myriad of things, and greedily took good old governmental farm subsidies.
We can also feel “big government’s hand” in the voter suppression laws swirling around the country. Although the laws in Texas, Florida and Ohio have been rolled back, it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of Republicans, who have shamelessly utilized every bit of government power they can grab to keep minorities, young people, the poor and the elderly from the voting booths. As Marge Baker at the Huffington Post noted, That’s “big government the right likes.” Baker went further, charging that “they have been willing to buck both the law and the spirit of our constitutional democracy to bar groups of people from participating in it. And they have been willing to set up extra layers of government and bureaucracy — things they claim to despise — in order to keep people from the polls.”
Pox on big government.
No, the feeders at the public trough aren’t unions, aren’t first responders, aren’t teachers, aren’t firefighters or police officers or soldiers. The biggest, loudest, slurpingest feeders at the public trough are Republicans who decry small government while using every bit of government at their disposal to take over our sex lives and family planning, our ability to support all religions (or none at all), offer employers the opportunity to judge the merits of our contraception, give hospitals and pharmacists the same liberties with our health, reject the stimulus with one hand and grab as much of it as they can with the other – all in the name of “small government” and all while decrying the use of big government to provide enhanced opportunity for the disenfranchised. “Of course conservatives are opposed to big government social programs,” wrote Dean Baker at commondreams.org. “That is because their goal is redistributed income upward rather than ensuring a decent standard of living for the whole population.”
The speakers at the DNC – as opposed to those at the RNC, who played the false-flagging game of pretending to decry small government while embracing it – have been and will be about fair opportunity for all. The speakers at the DNC, such as San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, speak passionately about the government’s role in leveling the playing field – and make no mistake, government plays a critical role in that. The dozens of Republicans who screamed about and voted against President Obama’s stimulus, then showed up at ribbon-cuttings and photo ops to take credit for how well it worked, know that government plays a critical role. Rick Perry, after having cut funds in his own state for firefighting, and after making a name for himself by rejecting the “socialistic” government of the Obama Administration, screamed for FEMA, yup, ran straight to the feds, the minute a natural disaster hit. Rick Perry knows well that government plays a role. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and their “you didn’t build that” dishonesty, know more than anybody that government plays a critical role. In fact, Mitt Romney, as the poster child for feeding at the public trough with his corporate welfare and ability to eliminate taxes on huge chunks of income, has his entire snout in the public trough – and knows exactly how dear and precious that public trough is. These same people who have been feeding at the public trough in one form or another, who have created whole lives and careers and, yes, fortunes around that public trough, stand with nostrils flaring, ready to head-butt anyone else who tries to get near it.
As the DNC winds down, we should all be prepared to hear the worn-out cries of “socialism” from the right, and outcries similar to Chris Wallace’s, that every liberal thinks government is the answer to every problem. Although there are plenty of spots around that public trough, the Republicans, first, won’t admit to slurping from it, and second, would like to see it run dry for others. But as they speak out of bitterness and anger and resentment and jealousy, remember what Democrats stand for, stated most eloquently by First Lady Michelle Obama: “. . . [W]hen you’ve worked hard and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”