This article at the Nation hits the nail on the head. I often call Bush the faith-based President, but this columnist seems to have discovered a context in which his actions are perfectly rational:
It occurred to me, as the seminar participants sifted through racial and political history for precedent, that the Bush Administration has been quite straightforward about its lack of commitment to civic responsibility: Bush always promised he would run the country like a corporation, and so he has . . . In business ethics good corporate leaders are beholden first and foremost to their investors and trustees, not to the public at large.
Looking at the President’s behavior this way renders Bush’s actions comprehensible. He views the dollar, not the person, as the unit of citizenship. Or, to put it another way, he fully believes that the free market will sort everything out, and that unbridled arrogance is the appropriate stance of a good American. If you are poor, you are so for lack of ambition or effort. If you get fired, or get sick, or live on a flood plain–well, those were no one’s choices but your own.
Thus those with money become those who deserve greater say over our government. Those without, well, they can do the best they can to stay alive.
Conservatives, of course, will argue that they do care about every person’s wellbeing, but their actions betray those words. They chose to pass the insane Bankruptcy bill which has recently been shown to be pointless. They chose to ignore the frequent and thorough warnings before Katrina hit, and then to allow American citizens to die in the ruins of New Orleans for days before they organized an effective response. The cold truth is that they do not care about people. They care about money.
They do need to get people to vote for them, though, so they have a strategy whereby they inflame people’s religious zeal or passionate emotions, and then, once elected, discard them. Yet look carefully at what the Republicans sacrifice for this purpose:
- Women’s Rights: The rich can always get an abortion, or contraception, if they need to
- Scientific Research: The problems our lack of funding and/or legality for certain scientific pursuits will be felt years down the road, not right now. These people are all about earnings in the next quarter, or, at best, the next year
- Moral Standing: These disciples of raw power could care less how the world feels about us. The same metric of worth applies: countries with enough money and power, we will make deals with. The rest, do what we say or else.
These thoughts do point to a strategy that could neutralize Rove’s tactics: Draw attention to the inherent dignity of all citizens. Democrats are the party of all Americans, rich and poor, male and female, of any ethnicity. If we press the Republican candidates on their short-term, money-driven policies, it will crack their facade.