18 Questions *From* Congressional Republicans II: The Back Nine

Previously, on “18 Questions *From* Congressional Republicans”:

–“For some reason I happen to be on the mailing list of the National Republican Congressional Committee.”
–“18…questions they just sent me…”
–“‘our nation’s position on marriage…'”
–“‘victory…in passing a law banning partial-birth abortions…'”
–“‘…moral, family, and values issues…'”
–“‘Liberal Democrats persist in attacking our Government’s steps and strategies…'”
–“‘…burden of additional security at our airports…'”
–“‘…Bush tax cuts PERMANENT…'”
–“‘…overhaul of the way we pay federal taxes…'”
–“‘…Baby Boomers…retiring…personal retirement plans.'”
–“For this reason I answered ‘not sure.'”
–“‘…not sure.'”
–“…because I’m not an economist, I answered ‘Not sure.'”

And then I came to Question 10, which opened with a clarion call of triumph! “Congress and President Bush strengthened Medicare and provided seniors with their own choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drug coverage.” “Their own choice”! Like a toddler getting his “own” special seat in the car! No mention of the restriction, specified in the law, against Congress doing, when buying prescription drugs, what any other big-ticket customer does when he buys, say, a ton of potatoes–negotiating a better price.

My inner response? The usual: Blah blah blah “what happened to the wisdom of the marketplace?” blah blah blah “competition,” blah blah “government run by corporations for their benefit,” “naked hypocrisy blah,” and so on.

The three answers from which I could choose, alas, featured none of those. Rather, did I favor “more strong Republican approaches to reforming the Medicare system,” (underlining in the original), the Dems’ plan to create “a government-run health care system,” or “leaving things pretty much the way they are now”?

Yes, you read that correctly: “pretty much.” Like you, I was–and remain–offended by the questionnaire’s slack language. I inscribed, with lapidary care, my own box, checked it, and wrote “Not sure.”

If there were a Sentence Hall of Fame (and somewhere on the Internet there probably are six of them), surely Question 11’s opener would qualify for admission: “Despite the success of the President’s No Child Left Behind Act, many U.S. schools are still receiving failing grades.” Here we have a masterpiece of English construction that accomplishes three things at once. It starts with an untrue premise; it contradicts itself with its second clause; and it confuses “schools” with “students” in a question dealing with standards of education.

When asked whether “we” should “mandate that our schools and teachers abandon the burdensome, ‘politically correct’ requirements that are hamstringing their work and concentrate more on the basics of a sound education” (whatever they are, in this day and a.), who wouldn’t (as I did) answer “Not sure”?

Question 12: “In an effort to protect the religious heritage and character of our nation,” am I in favor of the Bush administration’s request that “under God” be retained in the Pledge of Allegiance? Now, I am on record (at least in my mind) as being firmly against protecting the religious heritage and character of our nation.

But even more importantly, I don’t care about this “under God” business because I believe the Pledge of Allegiance itself should be replaced with the Breyer’s Pledge of Purity. Instead of promising “liberty and justice for all,” which is obviously a sales slogan and not to be taken literally, let’s make a promise we can keep, and vow that the United States of America will use “the highest quality, all natural ingredients available.” (Thanks to Richard Price, and Clockers, for the idea). “Not sure” was my answer, and I stand by it.

Question 13 seemed to hint at something progressive: “Do you think that much of our legal system is now working harder to protect the rights of criminals–” Do I ever! White collar criminals! Un-indicted co-conspirators, lying Vice-Presidents, and worse! I got excited and prepared to answer Yes.

Then I finished the question: “…than it is to safeguard the rights of citizens to be free of crime in their homes and on the streets?” Oh. That. Actually, no–I haven’t watched 2,469 iterations of Law & Order without knowing better, or–and this is essential to the Republican world view–believing I know better, even if I don’t. So my initial Yes was killed–murdered!–by my subsequent No and came out “Not sure.”

“More than 3 million illegal aliens now flood into our country each year,” states Question 14. “Our schools, hospitals, and social services are become overburdened by this influx.” What to do? “Tighten our borders, restrict immigration,” etc.? Let the “heavy influx” continue (“…as it has been to ensure the continuation of increased diversity in our country”)?

I looked, in vain, for a third answer (“Re-direct some of the kabillions being wasted in Iraq to support and expand our schools, hospitals, and social services?”). I made a mental note to suggest this option to the Committee, and then punted by writing in “Not sure.”

Question 15 seemed inspired by black helicopter- monitoring cranks: “As we continue to fight the War on Terror, do you think our U.S. troops should be required to serve under commanders from other nations or from the United Nations…” etc., etc., “…as some Democrats have suggested?” Even the author of the question seemed a bit embarrassed by it. The answers available were “Definitely not,” “Probably, sometimes,” and my personal favorite, “Don’t know.”

And now came Question 16.

“How do you describe yourself politically?”

There were four boxes: Conservative, Moderate, Liberal, and Uncommitted. I did what any sensible person would do, and checked all four.

Question 17 was a gimme: Did I vote in the 2004 Presidential Election. (Yes). The 2006 Mid-Term Election? (Yes.) Nuff said.

And finally: “The Democrats are gearing up to increase their numbers in the next elections, when every single one of our 201 Republican representatives will be vulnerable.” Knowing this, am I willing to help “by making a generous donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee today?”

Of course not. And yet, haven’t we all had a bit of fun at the NRCC’s expense? Don’t I owe them something?So I went to the trouble of drawing a little box and checking it and writing “Not sure.”

And there you have it. Eighteen ways to foster ignorance while pretending to ask questions. Eighteen ways to press the red meat of the credulous and the resentful. Eighteen ways to throw hot buttons at a constituency that gets stupider every time it listens to its leaders.

“Not printed at government expense,” it says at the bottom of the form. That’s good to know. It means the government won’t suffer when I take advantage of the postage-paid envelope, and mail back my response.

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