Monkey Bidness

Tim Paluch

“He’s only been in office for two weeks, for Christ’s sake.””Yeah, but look at him, he’s so charming.””Vouchers? Faith-based charities receiving federal funding? Who does he think he is?””Oh c’mon, he looks so cute in that big suit and that fancy tie and those shiny shoes.””$1.6 trillion dollar tax cut aimed at the wealthiest one percent? This guy doesn’t even have a mandate.””Don’t ya just want to hug him and kiss him and never let go? Leave him alone.”Just a sample of a conversation heard over and over around the United States last week, as much of the country, including the press and numerous progressive Democrats, have fallen under the mysterious spell of Dubya. I don’t find him all that charming, although I’m not normally the type to fall for politicians who smirk every time they correctly pronounce a big word or feel the need to give a “thumbs up” and a wink as a way of expressing satisfaction in an advisor’s policy.Whenever I find myself feeling sorry for Dubya when those mean and awful Democrats start bullying him around, I remind myself that he is not this compassionate “uniter” getting a bad rap from some ruthless liberal poachers. The reason the press is backing his radical initiatives and the reason Democrats are hopping aboard the bipartisan train is not because of his charm, but because, to them, he is nothing more than a chimp in a suit. I find it odd that the Democrats and moderates, who for eight years were under brutal partisan attack from the right, have decided to sit back and play softball on every one of Dubya’s radical proposals. On everything from his nominations of extreme right-wing cabinet nominees to cutting funds to international family planning groups to his creation of a White House office designed to award federal funding to faith-based charities to $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan, Democrats and moderate Republicans have restrained from overtly criticizing Dubya and his divisive actions. If you remember, a certain “spoiler,” who goes by the name of Ralph Nader, said the Democratic party was not as progressive as it claims. Maybe he was right.Back to the chimp in a suit comment. The only plausible explanation I have for why Dubya has been able to propose such extreme right-wing initiatives without much scrutiny is that he has the stature of a chimp in a suit. You know what I mean. Whenever anyone sees a chimp in a suit on television, you just have to watch. You know he doesn’t belong in the suit, you know his every action is being manipulated by some producer or trainer, and you know that there is no real reason to argue with whatever his dubbed voice is telling you. I mean, how can you argue with a chimp in a suit? You know you’d win the argument; it may be wearing a suit, but we all know it’s knowledge isn’t substantive. So you might as well sit back and laugh at how uncomfortable the chimp must feel out in front of all these people and how it would rather be butt-naked in some wildlife refuge picking fleas off of other chimps far from the scrutiny and commotion that he has been unwillingly subjected to.But as Republicans will soon find out, you can’t just sit and watch the chimp forever. Sooner or later, you change the channel. The novelty wears off, and, in Dubya’s case, the inaugural honeymoon will end.Hopefully, it is sooner and not later that the true progressives in Congress end the honeymoon and take the suit off the chimp, because they are sitting on their hands on issues they should be furious about.Every action by the Dubya administration in its first two weeks has been divisive. Toeing the line between separation of church and state, Dubya, who claimed he would reduce the size and spectrum of government, created a new White House office to assign federal funding to faith-based charity organizations. And yet, there is no vocal criticism from Democrats and moderates about the irreparable harm that could potentially occur. This unconstitutional act by our beloved president will turn religious leaders into government puppets competing for a limited pool of federal money.And there will be strings attached. Federal officials will be in churches, synagogues, and mosques throughout the country checking up on how the money was spent. The very idea that the federal government will be regulating the checkbooks of churches is in direct violation of the separation of church and state, and yet, no big stink from the so-called progressives in Congress.How about a $68 billion annual tax cut to the wealthiest one percent of Americans while simultaneously delegating only $5 billion to help rebuild public schools? How about a federal education program that takes money away from public schools that fail to teach their kids how to take a test effectively?How about instead of helping a failing school catch up on resources and technology, we give parents $1500 to send their kids to a private school?I am no expert on the prices of private schools, but $1500 ain’t gonna cut it when you have to pay for transportation and uniforms and lunches.How about we cut funding to international family planning organizations so they can’t perform a procedure perfectly legal in our country? How about we go back to ’80s style Reaganesque military proposals, give the old unworkable missile defense system another shot and reestablish the arms race we all missed so much?Dubya, who came to D.C. with no mandate other than a ruling by a politically active judiciary, garnered half a million fewer votes than his opponent, and claimed to be a “uniter” rather than a “divider,” has thus far done nothing to benefit an increasingly economically frustrated working class in need of help, not religious guidance.Charming, isn’t he?Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill.