There is a familiar expression which goes, “Say what you mean, mean what you say”. Recent Washington events can put some dimensions around this saying. The events were the Pope’s visit, Representative Mike McCarthy’s comments on Benghazi, and the GOP’s perspective on the Russian entry into Syria.
1. The Pope’s visit was a smashing success for Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. The Pope’s use of symbolism to emphasize the importance of humility, tending to the poor, and acceptance of all people was moving. In carefully crafted language the Pope verbally communicated what he tried to symbolize, and, also carefully alluded to catholic dogma which most Americans find less acceptable.
Namely, the Pope gave no room for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, nor did the Pope offer hope for a more sensible approach to family planning, and the Pope omitted any direct reference for an equal place in life for the GLBT community. The Pope said this by not saying anything to the contrary.
But wait, we now have heard that the Pope met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for contempt for denying marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. In an eerily similar move to transferring a priest accused of child abuse or paying hush money to victims on the basis of them dropping criminal charges, the church once again tried to have it both ways. The Pope kept speaking about the sanctity of all persons while his conservative handlers orchestrated a private meeting endorsing Davis’ actions.
Clearly child abuse is a human problem and not restricted to the celebrant church officials. Being opposed to birth control or abortion are matters of conscience and these beliefs can be widely held. The Catholic Church stepped out of bounds when it supported the suppression of information on criminal activity (presumably to not tarnish the church’s reputation) and now when it supports illegal actions (Davis refusal to issue licenses) to advance the church’s faith based beliefs.
Meeting openly with Kim Davis is one issue, not meeting with women’s groups or members of GLBT groups sends an equally clear message about the still broken planks in the church’s efforts to represent itself as a modern church.
2. Representative Mike McCarthy has declared his intentions to seek the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Speakers job goes to someone who is a GOP leader and well informed on GOP strategy. In comments to Fox News, McCarthy committed an unforced error by speaking the truth. When asked to name some accomplishments of the GOP controlled House, McCarthy cited the Benghazi select committee. McCarthy attributed the drop in Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers as a direct consequent of the GOP lead investigation and proof of its accomplishment.
For anyone with a heart beat, the investigation’s purpose has been clear for a long time. For McCarthy to utter this confirmation is amazing (for telling the truth) and completely a political mistake for admitting what was patently obvious. It should be no wonder why public opinion polls of Congress register so low.
3. In the murky Syrian situation, so many Republican politicians and GOP Presidential hopefuls are weighing in on “President Obama’s failed policies”. Each one of these critics decry the President’s policies of limited involvement but also cling to the notion that troops on the ground are not necessary. “The US is not acting, Russia is”, they spout. “Our allies will begin to forsake the US and turn to Russia”, the political rhetoric goes. Hmmm.
There is no question that Syria has become a humanitarian tragedy. But if Iraq has taught anything, it is that American idealism is sorely misplaced as the foundation of a Middle East strategy. There is no Russian idealism and doing what is necessary to keep Assad in power is all that is necessary. (Like with Afghanistan when Russia invaded and was eventually defeated, Syria is equally a bed Russia will not like to sleep in.)
If the GOP really is interested in ending the Syrian turmoil and defeating ISIS, there must be honesty about what it would take. Nothing less than another Iraq type invasion and occupation with most likely a subsequent redefinition of regional boundaries would be necessary. All of this would need to be supported by a US draft and imposition of war taxes. (I wonder whether Mike McCarthy would admit that too?)