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The GOP Has Brought a Knife to a Gun Fight

April 6, 2009

"Politics is war conducted by other means."
- David Horowitz, from The Art of Political War

At a key point in Mel Gibson's epic film, Braveheart, Edward the Longshanks, King of England, sends his daughter-in-law to bargain with Scottish warrior William Wallace, who has been leading a successful rebellion against England. The princess tells Wallace that compromise is the answer to resolving the conflict between England and Scotland. "Peace is made in such ways," she pleads with him. "Slaves are made in such ways!" he snaps back at her, thereby delivering one of the most stirring and truthful lines in the film.

Fast forward seven centuries to last week, when European Member of Parliament Daniel Hannan, who represents Southern England in that body, was addressing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a recent EP meeting. (In case you missed it on You Tube, Google "MEP Daniel Hannan" and watch it for yourself.) Some highlights of Mr. Hannan's remarks:

"The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money...We are now running a deficit that touches almost ten percent of GDP - an unbelievable figure...In the last twelve months, 125,000 private sector jobs have been lost; and yet you've created 30,000 public sector jobs. Prime Minister, you cannot go on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorging of the unproductive bit.

"You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we're well placed to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev-era Apparatchik giving the party line...Everyone knows that Britain is the worst placed to go into these hard times. The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by thirty percent - and soon the voters, too, will get their chance to say so. They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are a devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government."

Now back to our side of the pond, where House GOP Leader John Boehner and his band of lackluster cohorts presented a halfhearted, 18-page pamphlet they called an "alternative" to President Barack Obama's bloated, Christmas tree budget. Boehner, who should be railing at Obama like Hannan did at Brown, instead read a prepared statement, part of which follows:

"The President's budget spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much from our kids and grandkids. The Congressional Budget Office confirmed all of this on Friday when they pointed out that the president's budget would actually create $2.3 trillion of additional debt over and above what he's already called for in his budget. And, uh, if you look at the debt numbers in this budget, you'll see that over the next six years, President Obama, uh, will create more debt than his 43 predecessors have in the last 220 years. You also yesterday saw the president reiterate his position on the national energy tax, uh, when he said, "It's non-negotiable." Uh, this non-negotiable, uh, proposal of his, uh, is going to cost, uh, the average family $3,150 a year, uh, in higher taxes, uh, for those who drive a car, or those who have the...or would have the audacity to even flip on a light switch."    

My own snoring jolted me back to reality. Some of the lines were interesting, but they were delivered with all the passion of a grocery list. It was like watching the Sharks and the Jets bringing switchblades to a street fight with a 21st century gang armed with Uzis! Barack Obama is arguably the smoothest, most elegant politician of our lifetime. He can sell swamp water in the Everglades and get the buyer to think it tastes like champagne. He proved it last year during the campaign when he took on all comers in his own party and the "my turn" candidate of the GOP and chewed them all to pieces with a smile and an empty slogan.

Scotland had William Wallace. Great Britain has Daniel Hannan. We have John Boehner. I hope I can contain my excitement.

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Copyright ©2009 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.