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home : opinion : news views May 24, 2016

5/10/2013 10:20:00 PM
Politics Aside, Some Things Are Just Wrong
Gary Gerard
Times-Union General Manager

There seems to be this huge and growing divide between right and left in this country these days.
I see evidence of it all the time in politics, in the news and on social media.
It’s strange because lots of normally rational people can’t seem to assess anything on its merits if it has to do with politics. Everything must be filtered by party affiliation.
It’s always been like that, to a degree. But now, it’s just crazy. Some things are just wrong no matter who’s in charge. But these days, the filter still must be applied.
This whole Benghazi nonsense is a good example.
Can’t we all agree that it was wrong for United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to go on national television and lie to the American people?
Guess not.
Democrats are making excuses and Republicans are demanding justice.
And you know if there was a Republican in the White House, the converse would be true. Democrats would be demanding justice and Republicans would be making excuses.
Remember President George
W. Bush?
We couldn’t all agree it was wrong to go all gung ho by ourselves into a war under a false claim of weapons of mass destruction.
Remember President Bill Clinton?
We couldn’t all agree that it was wrong to play hanky panky in the oval office with an intern.
Remember President Ronald Reagan?
We couldn’t all agree that it was wrong to secretly sell arms to Iran and use the money to fund the Nicaraguan Contras, even though it was prohibited by Congress.
Remember President Richard Nixon?
We couldn’t all agree it was wrong to bug your political opponents’ headquarters.
There are tons more examples, but there is one overarching notion. In all these cases, you have one party making excuses and the other party demanding justice – even tough – clearly – there are no excuses.
I consider myself a center-right kind of guy. I am not that socially conservative, but I am pretty fiscally conservative when it comes to government policy. I don’t like war, either, so that’s a blot against me in a lot of conservative circles.
What that means is I wish the government was smaller. A lot smaller.
I liked some of the things Bill Clinton did fiscally. He reformed welfare and balanced the federal budget. And under his economic policies – which included deregulation – virtually every objective macroeconomic indicator showed the country prospering.
But some really troubling trends – from a fiscal conservative’s point of view – started to surface under President Bush. Those trends continued and are spinning out of control under President Obama.
I have no trouble saying these trends are wrong, regardless of who is pushing the policies.
President Bush fashioned himself as a “compassionate conservative.” That might just be the worst kind of conservative.
That’s because in an effort to swing votes his way President Bush was willing to eschew his conservative values and enact all manner of budget-busting government programs.
President Bush told us the private sector was suited better than government to handle our nations problems. I agree. I liked when he said that. That’s a sound conservative philosophy.
He also said he believed in a strict interpretation of the constitution. Again, attaboy, W.
But then he grew government more than anyone in history. He greatly expanded the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Department of Agriculture. He brought us the intrusive No Child Left Behind, which foisted all manner of federal mandates on local school districts.
He brought us a massive new and hugely expensive prescription drug benefit for seniors. He brought us the largest, most intrusive federal agency in history – Homeland Security and the equally invasive Transportation Security Administration.
To a conservative like me, this was awful. I don’t care what party wreaked this governmental havoc on our nation, it was awful. Period.
And it really bothered me to hear so many alleged “conservatives” all on board with it just because President Bush was a Republican.
Meanwhile, one would think this type of governing would have thrilled liberals, but nah, they found plenty of other areas to skewer the president.
Enter President Obama who makes President Bush seem downright frugal.
He brought us a giant new healthcare program and all manner of tweaks to entitlement programs that have the potential  to bankrupt the nation.
More than 10 million people are now receiving disability benefits and fully half of our households are receiving some sort of government entitlement.
It’s simply unsustainable.
Of course, now all the “conservatives” are crying foul and the liberals are saying this is the greatest thing since plastic wrap.
The more I watch politics, the more hopeless and dysfunctional it seems.

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