Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lincoln coined a political truism when he said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." With the rise of the science of poll-taking we now know with some degree of accuracy that the percentage of people you can fool all the time seems to hover around thirty. Which is, not incidentally, the President’s current approval rating.

The older I get, and the more election cycles I live through, the more astounded I am that the same tired rhetoric and the same sleazy diversions seem to serve well enough when politicians are in a pinch. What happens to Americans in an election year? Suddenly, issues like a dirty war waged on false premises in bad faith with a break-the-bank price tag of nearly $300 billion so far in which an estimated 40,000 Iraqis and nearly 2,500 Americans have died with many thousands more maimed for life, which continues to fan the flames of radical Islam, isn’t near as vital as the monster threat posed to America by…gay marriage?

With his approval numbers in the toilet, where they belong, in what’s shaping up as a tight election season precisely because the administration and its tools in Congress are running the government into the ground, the president is seeking to aid his beleaguered party by once again ramping up the rhetoric on same-sex unions. The last time the GOP grandstanded on gay marriage was—surprise, surprise—an election year, too. They may claim they’re not doing it to appeal to their base’s baser instincts, but new White House spokesman Tony Snow recently admitted his boss felt the issue was “politically ripe.” But playing politics with good and decent people’s lives is just plain wrong.

Truth is, both parties could get behind same-sex unions without compromising their core values in the least. Democrats should embrace it unapologetically, as they should the basic dignity, civil liberties and equal rights of all citizens. The very idea that visiting a dying partner in the hospital is a so-called “special right” is vile on its face, and it should not take extraordinary courage to say so plainly. Access to family healthcare, immigration rights for same-sex partners, and benefits from a partner’s will are all no-brainers. But social conservatives in the GOP can also embrace same-sex unions as the final triumph of their much vaunted family values campaign. Gay and lesbian parents are among the best, most active in their children’s lives, and most loving around. And their kids are healthy and happy.

Will Americans continue to be fooled by the knaves in Washington every election cycle? We should reject out of hand any attempt by our representatives in the government to turn us against each other, a strategy this administration has employed from the beginning, even through the horror of 9/11. Know this: a politician scapegoating any group clearly hasn’t got a platform to stand on.

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