Friday, November 19, 2010

Cantor Intuitive

Eric Cantor, one of the most powerful American political leaders, wants to make sure you know where his loyalties lie.  In a private meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington last week, Cantor assured the Israeli Prime Minister that he and his fellow congressional Republicans would "serve as a check" on the Obama administration's mid-east foreign policy.  But in addition to being very powerful, Eric Cantor, like many of the other right-wing extremists in Washington, is both stupid and deeply egotistical.  So while it's a reasonable assumption that assurances like this have been offered before, Cantor's office immediately and proudly issued a press release describing his conversation with Netanyahu honestly and in detail.

It's hard to even find a way to express how radical and un American this is.  For years now, we have watched Joe Lieberman endorse a series of actions and policies that are unequivocally in Israel's national interest, or at least in those interests as perceived and advocated by Likud and AIPAC, even when those policies and actions would function to the detriment of the United States, ostensibly Lieberman's home nation and one to which he swore an oath of office.  But while Lieberman's actions clearly favored Israel's interest and well being over America, he was always careful never to actually SAY that his primary loyalty was to Israel, and whenever those two national commitments found themselves in tension, he would choose to side with the foreign power over his own.  You could SEE this was true, but his words of denial and claims to American patriotism served as a kind of a bulwark against any accusations of disloyalty.

But Cantor has crossed even that faint, grey line.  He has promised privately, and touted the promise publicly, that he would support the policy agenda of a foreign head of state against the policies of his own nation and without consideration to how it might harm US interests.  As if there are not substantial risks to US National Security in the mid east, and as if Israel, as America's largest foreign aid beneficiary had no responsibility for considering America's interests even as she accepted the billions in American largess.

So, what is to be done with a member of the Congressional leadership who promises support and fealty to another nation in defiance of his own?  Well, to put it succinctly, nothing.  This is a new era, where soaring American rhetoric of the rule of law, particularly the inspiring part where no one is above it, is a quaint reminder of an earlier, simpler time, and to rise to a certain level of political power and influence is to be afforded a kind of across the board immunity.  When torture, indefinite detention and illegal surveillance no longer have any consequences, what are we to do with mere treason, a simple political decision to put the interests of another nation ahead of your own as long as your own is headed by a member of the other political party?  It's all fair game now, dismissed with a rueful smile and a "politics ain't beanbag" sort of truism so that we might get on to the more important matters of denying Unemployment benefits to desperate American citizens and making certain that bank foreclosure efforts continue to run smoothly despite any minor paperwork "irregularities".

At some point, the collective problems, crises, inefficiencies and dysfunctions of American governance will have to be confronted, honestly and effectively.  The pandering, the lying, the pretending will all have to end, at least for a while, in order to forestall disaster for the cherished business and political classes themselves.  The real costs to real lives will have been immense, but when the time comes they will work together with surprising efficiency and capability to save the system that so richly benefits them and their peers, so that they might return, with a wink, to the lovely gentleman's club of life that is theirs by birthright.

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