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Friday, February 15, 2008

Postmodernism and the GOP

I've long been intrigued by the notion of postmodernism, a subject that most of us have a hard time grasping.

Definitions of postmodernism abound, some of them quite complex. Here is one definition that is fairly straightforward.

I might not be on target with my definition, but I tend to think of postmodernism as a worldview where common standards for effective social interaction are ignored and treated with hostility.

I think of postmodernism whenever I'm in a movie theater and someone decides they just have to carrry on a cell-phone conversation while the film is playing. Or I think of postmodernism when I see a driver weaving in and out of traffic, violating multiple traffic laws and endangering numerous lives, all because said driver apparently has an appointment somewhere that trumps all else.

Perhaps my view of postmodernism is overly simplistic, but I think of it as primarily a lack of courtesy or deceny, a lack of concern for the rights of others.

Postmodernism--or at least my definition of it--seems to run rampant through today's Republican Party. And we've had two glaring examples in recent days.

First, was the Congressional hearing on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. This one involved future Hall of Fame pitcher Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee, a trainer who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. The New York Times opined on what is left of Clemens' rapidly fading credibility. And the Times noted that the whole affair turned into a partisan sideshow, with Republicans clearly favoring Clemens and Democrats trying to give McNamee a fair shake and appearing to be interested in getting at the truth.

Why would a hearing about the use of performance-enhancing drugs turn into a partisan squabble? Well, news reports have stated that Clemens, a native of Texas, is a longtime friend of the Bush family. In fact, McNamee's attorney says he expects Clemens to receive a pardon from George W. Bush if the pitcher is found to have committed perjury, an increasingly likely possibility, given the pitcher's shaky performance at the hearing and the fact that at least two other players have admitted that McNamee's statements about them were true. Some reports have indicated that McNamee has physical evidence to support his claims about Clemens use of steroids and HGH.

So here you have a Congressional hearing, with people testifying under oath, and Republicans don't appear to be remotely interested in getting at the truth. Postmodern, indeed.

And then you have Thursday's walk out by House Republicans, incensed that Democrats wanted to vote on a resolution to hold one current and one former White House official in contempt of Congress for failing to answer questions regarding the firings of U.S. attorneys.

Are Republicans remotely interested in getting at the truth regarding the possible politicization of the U.S. Department of Justice? Evidently not. And evidently they do not mind looking like a group of petulant third graders in the process.

This all might be a good sign, though, for those interested in the cause of justice, according to Scott Horton of Harper's. He says that House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers might patiently be exhausting all remedies before moving forward with impeachment proceedings--in which case, the White House claims of executive privilege will not apply.

Writes Horton:

"My guess is that the chess players are thinking several steps ahead of the game. It may or may not come to the sort of inquiry I am envisioning—that will depend in the first instance on the Justice Department’s own internal conclusions, and the pressure for the Justice Department to simply whitewash the matter may prove irresistible. But if it does come to a pointed inquiry into criminal conduct in the Oval Office relating to the dismissals, Conyers and his Committee want to be in a position to demonstrate that they have exhausted the other remedies—subpoenas and contempt citations—and have been stymied by the White House. In a sense, the White House will be forcing the opening of an impeachment inquiry by its own intransigence."

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