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October 7, 2008

The Republic In Danger

Roy Meachum

With the core of the nation's financial structure in shambles, at stake these next four weeks is the very governmental system itself. Never have these United States needed strong leadership more.


Having barely survived the Hillary-prolonged primary, the Democratic Party still struggles to find unity. Of course, I remember comedian-philosopher Will Rogers' comment: "I belong to no organized political party, I'm a Democrat." Still, when confronted with national need, as in 1932, the party of Jefferson and Jackson manages to pull together.


By contrast, the GOP came into being with a strong purpose: ending slavery; it grew great strength when it could claim Republicans saved the Union. Tracking from the Civil War until Franklin Delano Roosevelt's landslide, you might be surprised how few Democrats (Wilson and Cleveland) occupied the Oval Office. Since the first post-World War II election (1948), the GOP "owned" the White House nine terms; the other party restricted to 24 years. That gives Lincoln's party 50 percent more time at the wheel of the Ship of State.


Presidential nominee John McCain acts as if the Democrats have held power perpetually. Under that impression, the senator and his running-mate begin to show desperation as the campaign winds down.


Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signaled a new, tougher approach: she attacked Democrat Barack Obama for being pals with terrorists. One poll suggested a negative approach by the McCain camp would hurt the Arizona senator more than his opponent. The survey did not produce headline news.


In the Democratic primary's last days, Hillary Clinton and her husband, the former president, came at Senator Obama's throat and actually lost strength she was supposed to count on. The public indicated the "swift boat" torpedoing that finished off John Kerrey four years ago simply wouldn't go now. When asked what's a candidate to do in the present atmosphere, the answer posed is “live to fight another day.” Back off.


As stated at the column's beginning, this is a time when too much mud could sabotage the entire system of government. No republic – including Rome's – survived for more than two centuries; we're beating the odds by hanging on 232 years. What cave democracies in are crises that cannot be solved by the people and their representatives. A strong man arises – Rome's Julius Caesar – acquires absolute power in order to get the government back on track and never lets go.


Re-elected by fear of terrorists, George W. Bush and sidekick Richard Cheney appeared well on their way to impose the GOP perpetually on Washington; there's little else to explain the administration's positions that defy the Constitution. An easy example can be found in the total rejection of any oversight role by the Congress.


Their best-laid plans shattered under money pressures. While others disagree; I insist that the trillions spent on the Iraq adventure did the Treasury in. Specifically, I believe the situation was set up by the billions siphoned off by personal greed, on the part of Iraqis and friends of the White House. It takes no incisive investigation to uncover that Senator McCain was an important cog in how the mess turned out.


Look at his record. People other than dyed-in-the-wool Democrats looked and they are supporting change in Washington. Their numbers include Republicans and Independents who backed George Bush four years ago.


Precisely because of his eroding status among voters, GOP nominee McCain announced he plans to hit his rival harder. As vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin indicated, the attacks could become more and more personal. That suggests the tactics employed by the Clintons, especially the ex-president, as the primary wound down.


Assuming all the surveys forecast President Barack Obama, the damage here on will not come to the Democratic Party but the nation. The injury might not show up until the mid-term congressional races. That's exactly the GOP's hopes. Getcha next time! And to hell with the country! This is precisely the sort of partisanship colleague Rick Weldon cited when tendering his beloved Republican resignation. The times are too perilous to practice politics as usual.


All the quick taxpayer cash in the world cannot begin to solve the financial disaster. We might disagree about causes. But the enormity of the crisis demands both candidates stick to policy and avoid ad hominem lambasting that can only weaken the next pair of hands that try to steer the republic out of its present peril.


Although Barack Obama appears the winner on November 4, Democrats should also keep their mitts off the personal lives of John McCain and Sarah Palin. This is simply no time for business as usual. Look at the stock market, not for Wall Street, but as a measure of the country's economic health.


It stinks!

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