Among the many strange creatures found in Australia is one called the Frilled-Necked Lizard. When threatened, he has this umbrella-like structure around his neck which he splays out in an effort to look larger. Then, as his skin grows darker in color, he opens his mouth widely and emits a loud hissing sound while rocking back and forth on his hind legs.
It's a pretty spectacular site and it does make him appear reasonably menacing. The problem is, it's only a show. To put it bluntly, this guy is not exactly the terror of the Outback. His diet consists mainly of beetles, ants, termites, butterflies and moths. He is also known to be an extremely fast runner whenever his little act fails to impress a potential foe.
The fact is, despite appearances, this Aussie lizard is more of a song-and-dance-man than a warrior. That is why I have always felt that he would be the perfect symbol of the Republican Party. After all, the current symbol – the elephant – is a noble animal that will take on a lion if need be. However, no one can remotely make such a claim about the GOP.
During the recently completed budget battle, the Republicans behaved in a way that reinforced their reptilian tendencies. In the last few weeks, they had strutted around telling the world that they would shut down the government before agreeing to continue funding for Planned Parenthood. At the same time, the Democrats made it clear that they would shut down the government before giving up Planned Parenthood's funding.
What we now know is that one side was lying. And late on Friday night, they ate a moth.
What happened was simple and transparent. As many of us suspected, the Republicans had been using the Planned Parenthood funding issue as a bargaining chip all along. When the negotiations entered their final hour, GOP leaders figured that they had squeezed all they could out of the Dems and the only thing left to do was cut-and-run.
To characterize this betrayal as "predictable" is an understatement. In 2008, I wrote the following, "The first thing to understand about the Republican Party is that it is totally unsuited for the abortion battle. Since the day this struggle began, it has always been clear that it is the political equivalent of a brawl in a waterfront bar. Unfortunately, the GOP is made up of a bunch of guys whose mammas used to dress them for college. On a fraternity dare, they might find the courage to go into a waterfront bar. But when the first punch is thrown, the only thing you can be certain of is that you're about to hear the unmistakable pitter-patter of fine leather wingtips stampeding toward the door. A second problem is that the gated-community limousine liberals who control the GOP are about as interested in abortion as a fish is in a bicycle. Like it or not, these people are motivated by the bottom line and the bottom line is that there is no money to be made in saving babies."
Let me make another point that I've brought up before. The power-elites in the Republican Party keep trying to separate what they call "moral issues conservatives" from "fiscal conservatives." But this sort of compartmentalizing ignores the fact that virtually every decision a politician makes has a moral component. In this case, when the government spends money it does not have or borrows money it knows it can never repay, that is called "theft" and doing it cannot be seen as simply an economic decision. It must also be seen as a moral decision.
The point is, it is certainly possible for good moral decisions to be financially unsound. In fact, Americans do it millions of times every day. But no decision, regardless of how financially sound it might be, can be justified if it is immoral. And you will never find a better example of that than the scandal that culminated on Friday night.