Point of View Columns

Steely Logic

Michael Steele, the Chairman of the Republican National Party, has had a seven month run as a rhetorical piñata for many progressive and moderate commentators. And, if the truth be told, he has deserved that status on many occasions. When you are the spokesperson for unspeakable logic and deplorable political conduct (usually an oxymoron), you deserve what you get.
The latest example – earlier this week Chairman Steele was on NPR and in listening to him intently, one realizes that he is all over the place in terms of his basic logic, as factually flawed as it might be. I wonder if his base strategy is to simply dazzle his audiences with his faulty, fluky and bizarro footwork and hope that no one notices his Dada no sense is sense approach to public discourse is worse than not being constructive, it is destructive.
He is opposed to government run healthcare but in favor of Medicare continuing. He thinks Medicare is poorly run but it should remain in place. And that ties in nicely with the underlying pseudotheory that Big Government is anathema to the American Way. A pseudotheory that neatly and conveniently ignores other Big Government programs like Social Security, Medicare, the United States Military, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Aviation Administration – all Big Government programs that we, as Americans, would not want to be without for a single day. But it appears that Mr. Steele and his Republican cohorts feel that if they say Big Government enough times they can bring this bogeyman to life and scare the wits out of their witless followers.
In the referenced interview, Steele goes on to say that he is opposed to Big Government coming into the sanctified space that exists between the doctor and the patient. And then he freely admits that many private insurers often interject themselves into the decisions that involve treatment and care. And he doesn’t like that at all. And he believes that (this is pretty unbelievable coming from the Anti Big Government Avenger) government should look into this matter and institute reforms.
Listening to Michael Steele reminds me of watching a football running back with a few basic moves and middling speed trying to elude tacklers by running back and forth across the field, sometimes even reversing his field. But never, ever crossing the line of scrimmage and moving the ball forward. Teams with this kind of running game never win and have a very short shelf life in terms of entertainment value.
The most successful demagogues have no fear of the truth, just a healthy aversion to it. Michael Steele states that his isn’t trying to scare anyone. And he doesn’t know anyone in the leadership of the Republican Party who is trying to scare the American people.
Which would be a noble statement were it not for the confirmed wobblehead Republican spokeswoman Sarah Palin denouncing non-existent “death panels” that are simply not a party of any health care proposals currently under consideration by the Congress. Steele and his colleagues are not trying to scare anyone and its o.k. for Republican Senator Grassley to dither about “not pulling the plug on grandma” and frighten and confuse that section of our population that is most susceptible to being frightened and confused.
The scary part is that because Steele uses proper grammar and syntax it sounds like he might know what he is talking about. The scarier part is that there are too many people who listen to him and follow his logic into the brick wall of nihilism that is at the end of his rhetorical road. And that is truly shameful.

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