Tag Archives: Republican party

Hard to Argue with This

You can hardly pick up a newspaper or magazine, or log onto a website these days without encountering an article that advises the Republicans party on ways to address the party’s current dilemma. Some are well-reasoned and thoughtful, many are nothing more than thinly-disguised apologetics. Commentary magazine has recently published one of the better analyses. Among their prescriptions: an admonition to be intellectually honest.

The article made clear that the author agreed with conservative economic approaches. But as it noted, the likelihood of anyone listening to the GOP on these issues “requires changing an image that the GOP is engaged in class warfare on behalf of the upper class. Republicans could begin by becoming visible and persistent critics of corporate welfare: the vast network of subsidies and tax breaks extended by Democratic and Republican administrations alike to wealthy and well-connected corporations. Such benefits undermine free markets and undercut the public’s confidence in American capitalism. They also increase federal spending. The conservative case against this high-level form of the dole is obvious, and so is the appropriate agenda: cutting off the patent cronyism that infects federal policy toward energy, health care, and the automobile and financial-services industries, resulting in a pernicious and corrupting system of interdependency. “Ending corporate welfare as we know it”: For a pro-market party, this should be a rich vein to mine.”

No kidding. The hypocrisy on this issue–defending corporatism while marginalizing the poor and opposing any effort to help them–has been widely mocked. This preference for corporate welfare has made the general public view all GOP economic prescriptions with suspicion.

Perhaps the most penetrating observation in the article, however, was this one:

Republicans need to express and demonstrate a commitment to the common good, a powerful and deeply conservative concept. There is an impression—exaggerated but not wholly without merit—that the GOP is hyper-individualistic. During the Republican convention, for example, we repeatedly heard about the virtues of individual liberty but almost nothing about the importance of community or social solidarity, and of the obligations and attachments we have to each other. Even Republican figures who espouse relatively moderate policy prescriptions often sound like libertarians run amok.

This may be the area where current Republican rhetoric is most out of sync with the culture. America is experiencing a still-nascent but growing return to balance, to a renewed recognition of the importance of community and the common good. “I’ve got mine” is an unattractive motto for a political party at any time, but it is extremely off-putting to people looking for ways to forge a caring polity.

The article makes several other points worth pondering, not the least of which is that the country desperately needs two mature, responsible political parties. And right now, we don’t have them.

 

There’s Law and There’s Politics

A lawyer friend of mine recently sent me an email commenting on the Recount Commission’s ruling on Charlie White’s residency.

“Contrary to what I repeatedly heard from the Commission members yesterday, mostly Wheeler, Indiana law does not state that residence is totally a function of one’s intent.  While important, the Supreme Court in the Evan Bayh case said these things about the role of intent in domicile cases.  First, it said that “a self-serving statement of intent is not sufficient to find that a new residence has been established.” (“I intended to live at Broad Leaf at the home of the woman I divorced 3 years earlier, while I was engaged to another woman, and after I’d leased and then purchased a condominium with a 30-year mortgage and paid all the utility bills while my fiancé was living there.”) Second, the Bayh case held that residency requires both intent and “evidence of acts taken in furtherance of the requisite intent, which makes the intent manifest and believable.”  In other words, one’s professed intent, to be made believable, requires conduct that is consistent with that professed intent.  And third, the Court in the Bayh case emphasized that a location cannot be one’s domicile unless it is one’s “true, fixed, permanent home,” not a place (like one’s ex-wife’s home) where one goes occasionally to “crash”, i.e. a purely temporary arrangement.”

The Commission essentially ruled that all White needed to do was profess an intent to reside at his ex-wife’s home.  But as my friend pointed out, his ex-wife explicitly testified that the arrangement was “never intended to be permanent but only temporary.” Furthermore, White’s contemporaneous conduct and the circumstances surrounding his divorce and engagement to another woman was–in any world most of us inhabit or recognize–totally inconsistent with his testimony that he intended to take up permanent residence with his ex.  He leased and then purchased the new condo and moved his fiancé into it at no charge to her; he represented to his lending institution, to his future employer, to his prior employer and to the IRS that this condo would be his permanent residence. If this were a made-for-TV movie, the obvious question would be: “Were you lying then or are you lying now, Mr. White?”

As my friend conceded, the process is and was intended to be political rather than judicial in nature, so that a political rather than a judicial outcome would result.  And that is precisely what happened here. If White thinks he will have as easy a time of it when the criminal charges against him are heard, he’s likely to be very disappointed.

The great irony is that, by refusing Republican and Democratic demands that he resign, White is continuing to embarrass the same Republican party that provided him with last week’s Pyrrhic victory.