Maybe it is because I am a dad. Maybe it is because I am a columnist. Whatever the reason, I have favorite phrases.
One of those is, “When you’re right, don’t change your mind.”
I can’t tell if the cause is abject cynicism, unchecked hypocrisy or just a collective failure of conscience, but the Republican party is slowly but surely abandoning all ideals that once defined it.
Watching people wink and ignore issues in their own party that would cause overreactive hyper-partisan attacks if the other party did it is disheartening. Republicans used to be better than this but the party surrendered the moral high ground a few years ago. I’m beginning to wonder if there is any solid ground left on which a true conservative can make a stand.
As Charles Spurgeon said, “Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite.”
If you are a Republican who got angry just reading that, you might be part of the problem. Allow yourself a moment of introspection and ask yourself if the version of you that voted for Ronald Reagan and fought against Bill Clinton on moral grounds would be proud of today’s GOP. To me, the answer is an obvious all caps NO.
Remember back when Barack Obama first entered the White House and deficit spending and the national debt were such a big deal that a new branch of the Republican Party was formed and people started flying “Don’t Tread On Me” snake flags again? Under a Republican president, the deficit is skyrocketing and the national debt is up 10 percent in less than two years - now over $22 trillion. Are “conservatives” upset about it? Not at all. They say the economy is booming. Deficit spending has a way of doing that until the bill comes due.
Remember Hillary Clinton’s private email server? Unless you were teleported away from Earth in 2015 and didn’t come back until today, you know all about her emails. FOX News still has segments of news and opinion shows on how grave a risk she might have posed to national security. Now we find out that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used private emails and other unsecured messaging applications to communicate with other countries for official business for two years but no one says a word.
It makes me wonder if an embassy in Benghazi came under attack today if Republicans would simply give an award to the Trump administration for saving money by keeping security costs low and “only” losing four lives. What used to cause apoplectic responses now fails to even raise a shrugged shoulder.
One of the best examples is the case of new Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw. During the midterm elections, Pete Davidson made a joke on Saturday Night Live that Crenshaw’s eye patch made him look like “a hitman in a porno.”
That joke isn’t funny. As a fat man who grew up a fat kid, I never developed an appreciation for humor based on looks. I’m sure Crenshaw loves eye patch jokes as much as I love fat jokes. I could diet, but Crenshaw lost his eye in Afghanistan and got a purple heart to go with his two bronze stars honoring his service to the country as a Navy Seal. As much as I don’t enjoy being made fun of, using that to mock Crenshaw is beyond the pale. Republicans were indignant that these liberals would make fun of a war hero who was injured in service to the nation.
It was such a bad reaction to a bad joke that Saturday Night Live invited Crenshaw on the program the next week to have a little fun at Davidson’s expense. It was one of the better parts of SNL last year and showed that Crenshaw has a sense of humor, as well as a sense of service.
Republicans don’t love Crenshaw as much this week.
When Donald Trump began a weekend of attacks on Twitter and in interviews talking about how much he doesn’t like or respect John McCain, Republicans were mostly silent. Davidson made an off the cuff joke about an eye patch and Republicans lost their cool. Their president spends a full weekend and into Monday attacking a man who was a prisoner of war for years before a distinguished career in Congress and they no longer care if a former television star who avoided the draft during Vietnam attacks a war hero. They even let a man who skipped serving his country with phony bone spurs say that a man who was permanently disfigured in the Hanoi Hilton wasn’t a war hero.
As a Lieutenant in the Navy, Rep. Crenshaw grew tired of the attacks on McCain - who was a Captain in the same branch of the armed services.
He tweeted, “Mr. President, please stop talking about Senator McCain.”
That was hardly a harsh response. But people who are loyal to Trump above all else have no regard for true character or service to the country. Their loyalty is to a small man, not a great country.
Even though all Crenshaw did was ask the president to stop attacking a dead war hero who served his country well, the same people who attacked SNL on his behalf only a few weeks ago, turned their attacks in his direction.
The responses to his tweet were horrifying.
“Go RINO on us Dan & you’ll be a one-term wonder,” one reply said. “McCain may have had honor in war but he died a traitor working for Dems to stage crimes that never happened. THAT man was a piece of...” (I had to stop that one there for obvious reasons. It didn’t get better.)
Another chimed in, “Unlike the rest of you in Washington, D.C. the President has a pair...” I know what the obvious reference is, but I can’t help but wonder if Crenshaw having one eye instead of “a pair” didn’t play into this clever tweet. Maybe, maybe not.
The final straw is this response, “Seriously, Dan, mind your own business. McTurd was a member of the coup. In most nations that gets a person shot.” One can’t help but wonder if this was simply a comment or a veiled threat to Crenshaw. Thanks to Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh, the juvenile name changes are now considered political discourse on the right side of the aisle. If ignorance is bliss, why are these people so angry.
These are only responses from seemingly real people and not the “bots” who have names like “patriot894995″ or “Mary711663.” Those were even worse in some cases.
The fact is, people were right to be outraged by Davidson’s classless joke at Crenshaw’s expense. It went beyond decency. But one request from one war hero to his president asking him to leave another war hero alone is no reason to forget that the same standards apply to both sides.
That’s a fact that some seem to have forgotten.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.