Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

What the GOP Fears

You can tell what the Republicans in the Senate most fear from the Obama administration by looking at which cabinet nominees they are stalling or trying to block.  Hillary Clinton (once considered by the GOP to be a symbol of everything bad about “liberals”–even though liberals and progressives like myself always saw the Clintons as center-right) passed easily.  Tim Geithner is being confirmed as Treasury Secretary despite his past tax problems even though he  arguably helped create our current economic mess. (Not by himself, of course, and he stopped being a fann of deregulation sooner, but he still would never have been my choice at Treasury.  I would have wanted a real left of center economist like Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman.) William Lynn of Raytheon infamy (whose appointment breaks Obama’s own rules on lobbyists) will probably be confirmed as Deputy Sec. of Defense for Appropriations!  Where Obama is more continuity than “Change we can believe in,” the Senate GOP has no real problems, even if they posture ahead of time for their constituents.

No, where they are really digging in their heals shows their  deep fears:

  • Eric Holder as Attorney General.  The Republicans are terrified that he will have the Department of Justice investigate all the Bush admin.’s criminal wrongdoings. They want him to pledge that he will not prosecute torturers–something he has refused to do, thankfully, even though he hasn’t pledged to investigate and prosecute either.
  • Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) as Secretary of Labor.  The Republicans are TERRIFIED that she will actually believe in and defend organized labor–as her job requires–rather than being a union buster as the GOP prefers.
  • Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.  Not all Republicans hate the environment, of course.  In fact, our best environmental presidents have been Republicans (Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, & Richard Nixon). Our worst environmental presidents have also been Republicans (Reagan,  both Bushes) which averages out to the mixed record of Democratic  presidents.  But the TYPE of Republicans that are left in the U.S. Senate (with the partial exceptions of McCain (AZ), Snowe (ME), & Collins (ME) )absolutely LOVED the Bush-era free reign to rape and pillage the earth–and are scared witless that this will end in the new administration.

So, that’s it.  The GOP fears an independent Department of Justice that will really uphold the rule of law. It fears that union busting will be replaced by a newly strengthened labor movement (recall the war on the United Auto Workers by the GOP in December!).  And it fears an EPA that actually PROTECTS the environment!

What the GOP fears is precisely what most Americans celebrate–and at least partly why they voted as they did this past November (and not just in the presidential election, but in “downticket” races). So, we need to push back and get the GOP to quit stalling and confirm these cabinet members so they can get to work for us.  If they want to flex muscle and show Obama he can’t get everything he wants, they should do it with Geithner or Lynn (I would add Gates at Defense, but since he’s a holdover from Bush, he doesn’t have to be confirmed by the Senate). Call your senators  today and tell them to quit stalling–and turn their attention to helping the president save our economy!

January 23, 2009 - Posted by | U.S. politics


  1. Please delineate the difference between liberals and progressives Michael. How do you as a progressive differ from liberals ?

    Comment by Paul | January 24, 2009

  2. Okay, Paul. That’s a fair challenge, but may take awhile. Shortcut answer is that while both liberals and conservatives care about both substantive justice (economic, racial, gender, etc.) and defending civil liberties against repressive conformity, liberals put the emphasis on civil libertiies, whereas progressives put the emphasis on organized people movements for substantive justice. (That’s WAY oversimplified, but a beginning.)

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 24, 2009

  3. I think Obama should give up on William Lynn. From what I understand he is Gates favorite and not Obama’s first choice anyway. I hope Obama will stick to his executive order and withdraw Lynn. It would be a good symbolic statement.

    Comment by Mike L. | January 24, 2009

  4. I agree, Mike, and he should champion Solis, Holder, and Jasckson.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 25, 2009

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