You Must Respect My Authori-taaay!

What is a moderate Republican to do these days? The 2006 Congressional elections are looming. The President’s top advisors — including the Vice President himself — are under a cloud of suspicion and still under investigation by a dogged and dedicated prosecutor.

The Preznit is predictibly going back to his home base of demanding wingnuts and Jesus-using money machine media preachers with the appeal of Scalito and his momma’s promise that “Of course he’s against abortion.”

If you are a moderate Republican, not wholly bought and paid for by James Dobson or Grover Norquist, and you’ve somehow been able to maintain some level of personal ethics and independence of thought (tough in these days of interest groups and letter writing campaigns and 527 targeted media buys).

And the level and stench of corruption in your own party — Delay, Frist, Abramoff, Libby, Noe, Rove…I could keep going — something you have worked so hard for throughout your political career, a party whose principles you still hold dear, no matter how far away from the Reagan vision of America the idiot in the White House has taken the country, has started to make you sick — both in your mind and your heart.

So, you speak out on a Sunday talk show or in the papers about how Bushie needs to clean house. How someone needs to work for him who will tell him the unvarnished truth, the real deal, the actual news from the ground and not just what he wants to hear because he’s the President of the United States and a dose of reality is needed. (Putting aside how frightening it is that someone actually has to come out and say that — boy, I know I’m feeling a whole lot safer.)

What do you get?

The White House yesterday rejected calls for a staff shake-up or presidential apology after I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s indictment, and Vice President Dick Cheney went one better, replacing Libby not with a new face, but with two hard-liners from Cheney’s inner circle.

Republicans have been pressing President George W. Bush to re-energize the White House with some fresh blood. Democrats have called on Bush to fire political adviser Karl Rove and apologize over the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.

But the White House signaled defiance on all three fronts yesterday, suggesting that no staff overhaul was in the works and rebuffing the call to dismiss Rove, who is still under investigation in the leak of Plame’s identity.

Well, that’s useful. And then you read this:

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll shows the damage the Libby indictment has done to Bush’s White House, with a solid majority of 55 percent now saying they consider Bush’s presidency a failure.

If you are a moderate Republican, you have to be frustrated. And beginning to be seriously frightened about your own prospects, what with being linked to this White House and your leadership and all.

So — you have a choice? Stand on principle, or herd yourself along with the rest of the sheep, clinging to the hard right because you are too terrified to think about what could be if you speak up for the middle.

If you are a Democrat — well, we’d better get off our butts and offer more than just criticism. If the Democrats don’t capitalize on the 2006 elections, we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

This is the time for some true leadership. The American people hunger for something other than crappy sound bite platitudes and nasty infighting campaigns.

The candidate that steps up and gives people hope — and that actually gives a crap about real people’s problems instead of getting themselves re-elected — is the one who wins. At least I’d like to think so, anyway, but my cynicism keeps getting in my way.

I don’t know about all of you, but I am sick of having to live with a Preznit who acts more like Cartman on South Park than a leader of this great nation. For my money, respect is earned, not demanded — and it has to be earned every single day, with every single action you take.

Bushie doesn’t even respect elected leaders in his own party enough to listen when they are trying to speak wisdom in his ear.

Here’s a clue for the Preznit, free of charge: Weakness and deliberate ignorance are inexcusable when you consistently refuse to listen to reasonable people who disagree with you. Strength is shown by looking at all sides of an issue and considering what is best for our nation — not just what is best for you and your cronies. Try being President instead of a petulant schoolboy who rebels when being scolded.

(Photo credit to Larry Downing at Reuters for the “What You Talking About, Willis?” pix above. Really good one!)

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