Gary Harmon Column April 19, 2009

Dissent is no longer patriotic when liberals aren’t the ones engaged in it

Perhaps the most misused word of the current moment is “transparency.”

Glass is transparent. So is water.

One thing that never will be transparent is government, at least in the sense that it can be easily monitored and the money that passes into its gullet viewed as it is digested and turned into this road, that school, that job in the police department or another file in the courthouse.

It doesn’t work that way.

The only thing transparent about government is its insatiability. Well, that and a remarkable blindness to irony, but more on that in a bit.

For the moment, the idea that government can be rendered transparent has great currency, to say nothing of bundles of just-printed cash.

Cast against the backdrop of easy money and so-called transparency is the tea-party movement.

Thousands gathered last week across the nation, in towns small and large, to protest, well, something.

Therein lies the problem.

By and large, the rallies were aimed at President Obama, casting him, per historical parallel, as a new King George and Congress the modern equivalent of the mad king’s wholly owned subsidiary of a Parliament.

To be sure, taxation was an issue, and it remains one. But, whereas the idea of no taxation without representation had a certain ring, the problem is that the current taxation is the result of intentional functional illiteracy — no one who represents voters actually reads the bills.

The tea parties have largely been dismissed by the political establishment as the creation of the Republican Party in its bid to build up partisan opposition to the ruling Democrats.

That part is actually funny. Anyone who has been something close to sentient for the last four or five years knows that Republicans are simply not that ingenious.

They’re grasping for the tea parties in a feral thrash to gain a foothold on anything that might allow their political survival.

So far, it hasn’t occurred to them to draw up a list of the stuff they won’t fund, the taxes they’d cut and the projects they would kill. They don’t because they fear the wrath of those folks dependent on that spending.

So their souls will wander, like Jacob Marley’s, unable to free those they helped chain for life.

Fully cognizant of the desperate nature of the GOP’s struggle, the Democrats have dismissed tea parties as so much fringe activity.

Then again, this is the same bunch of Democrats that, in Colorado, failed until late last week to grasp the irony implicit in the working man’s party robbing Joe Sixpack’s accident insurance to
pay Joe College’s tuition for liberal-arts and cheerleader-monitoring classes.

Republicans, should they ever regain power, will have a difficult time scaling to that height of silliness.

Not that they won’t try.

The best reaction the Dems could manage to the tea parties was to drag Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano out of her power-drunken hangover to declare tea-partiers were decidedly unpatriotic. Dangerous, even.

Put that “Dissent is…” sticker on your bumper and you can expect to have your car keyed by the same people who just scratched the same sticker off their own bumpers.

Say what you like about John Edwards, he of the two Americas, two mommies and a house twice the size of anyone else’s. Edwards was talking about rich and poor, but the truth looks closer to the political party equivalent of dumb and dumber.

We can only await the day when Lloyd Democrat glares at Harry Republican and declares,
“Just when I thought you couldn’t be any dumber, you go and ... totally redeem yourself!”

That’s a pipe dream, of course.

Each side is more interested in battering the other with the vicissitudes of the moment, paying scant attention to the fact that the people who pay their taxes are fast running out of cash.

That much, at least, is clear.


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