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In praise of Republican hypocrisy

I've always preferred hypocrisy to radical evil. At least a hypocrite understands what he's doing is wrong. That's why he's so determined to make sure you and I never find out about it.

Perhaps the only thing that has made America's otherwise shameful two-party oligarchy bearable is that neither party has, at least in recent decades, actually adopted the platform of radical evil. Indeed, one party represents something almost resembling the good — a declawed good, one both unable to catch the mice of social injustice and unwilling to try all that hard because it's too busy fooling around with the neighbors' kittens.


As for the other party, it has long been the party of hypocrisy. From Nixon's alleged commitment to peace in Southeast Asia to Newt's alleged opposition to marital infidelity, the GOP has never actually lived by most of its principles. And on those rare occasions when they have tried practicing what they preach, Republicans have selected those sermons that come closest to endorsing outright evil. Like the stuff about stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. Or re-naming an airport after Ronald Reagan.

Most disturbingly, Republicans steered pretty much clear of hypocrisy when it came to their policies concerning multiculturalism. Sure, they never marched around in brown uniforms or consigned the works of Maya Angelou to the flames, but the radical right wing of the party developed plenty of code words for the objects of their hate, code words about as subtle as "ispanic-hay." Pat Buchanan never denounced black, Latino or Jewish Americans outright, but he spent an awful lot of time yelling about "welfare mothers," "immigrants" and "an international cultural elite of bankers and media moguls with a taste for pastrami."

But now Buchanan has retired to Palm Beach to spend his waning years with the only people who supported him in the last election, and the GOP has moved to a whole new level of hypocrisy about diversity. I'm not sure if George W. Bush alone was capable of single-handedly causing such an important shift in the party line. Hell, I'm not sure if the man is capable of much of anything. (He certainly isn't capable of winning a free and fair election for the presidency of the United States.) But the change has happened nonetheless.

It was first noticeable during the Republican National Convention this past summer, when the lily-white audience learned to groove along to the sounds of salsa and hip-hop. Many of these delegates had never listened to anything with a heavier beat than "Achy, Breaky Heart" before, but there they were — doing a Midwestern approximation of the funky chicken, which would not be at all out of place at a Jay-Z concert in Wichita. Not that Jay-Z would ever be caught dead performing in Wichita, but you can still imagine the dancing.

The Republican Party of the 21st century, however, would never be satisfied merely achieving diversity in its entertainment selections. Once "elected," George II made sure to put together a Cabinet that included crypto-fascists of every race, color, creed and gender. There's a female anti-environmentalist for the Interior Department, not to mention Jersey's own earth-unfriendly nominee for the EPA.

There was going to be a union-busting Latina woman for Labor, but when it was revealed that she kept other Latina women laboring in her home (something the Republican party of Lincoln's day liked to call "slavery"), a union-busting Asian-American woman was quickly found to take her place.


And most exciting of all, we've got two (count 'em, two!) African-American isolationists in charge of our foreign policy. Sure, there are still plenty of old white guys around — including about 15 wrinkled fellows defrosted from the Ford administration and an attorney general-designate whose pro-life values have led him to religiously defend every American's God-given right to stockpile firearms — but this is a Cabinet that really does look like America. Unfortunately, it thinks more like Afghanistan.

For a president whose party's official platform still opposes affirmative action, W's cabinet is a masterpiece in the art of achieving racial, ethnic and gender diversity. This, of course, does not actually mean that our Republican "president-elect" will do anything more to help the disadvantaged than any other recent Republican president has done. But it does mean that he's trying to hide that fact. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing. Michael Frazer is a politics graduate student from Riverdale, N.Y. He can be reached at

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