Just to amplify an issue related to Mistermix’s post below about austerity peacock Tom Coburn’s announcement that he would seek to offset federal disaster relief funds to Oklahoma with budget cuts elsewhere (Pentagon exempted, naturally). Let’s pause to consider what it means that Coburn issued this statement while bodies were still being pulled from the rubble in his home state, an activity that is ongoing.
A spokesman for the senator claimed that Coburn was merely being consistent about his position on federal disaster aid. That’s a lie: Mrs. Polly at Rumproast provides links to accounts of Coburn questioning and delaying disaster relief to other states while accepting funds for Oklahoma. It’s no surprise that Coburn is a liar and a hypocrite: That’s what we expect from politicians. It’s what our grandparents expected, and their grandparents too.
But what does seem somewhat novel — to me, at least — is the brazen callousness in today’s breed of Republicans, a rigid orthodoxy combined with a rich man’s insulation from trouble that renders them utterly indifferent to the fate of others, even those who look like them and share their origins and cultural pretensions.
Coburn is retiring after his current term: Maybe he’d be less quick to rush before the cameras to display his austerity plumage if he had to stand for another election. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true anymore. His real political masters, Koch Industries, et al, will applaud his haste to emphasize what’s really important in the face of a natural disaster, which is to keep corporate tax rates low and gut regulations on industries that contribute to extreme climate events.
And even if voters remember some other austerity peacock’s callous disregard for an unfolding disaster in some future election (doubtful thanks to the flood of corporate money that swings most elections), the heartless pricks who are voted out of office can transition seamlessly into cushy private sector influence-peddling gigs.
There’s really nothing new to see here, I suppose, but I can’t help but feel that something has been lost nonetheless: basic human decency, fundamental accountability — or at least the need to pretend that these quaint notions are relevant.