There was an op-ed in the New York Times recently titled "President Obama's Hypocrisy on Syria" that seemed kind of out-of-place over a byline that didn't belong to David Brooks. My first thought was that the Times had fallen victim to Rupert Murdoch's insatiable craze for acquiring and destroying media outlets, but a closer look revealed that the column was written by a man named Peter Wehner, whom the newspaper listed as a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The EPPC was founded in 1976 with the stated goal of applying Judeo and Christian values to create a "moral society" in which business can function more efficiently (read profitably). It also strives to counter common perceptions that American and multinational corporations are "fouling the environment, robbing future generations, wielding enormous power, repressing peoples in the third world, and generally being insensitive to human needs." I don't think I would use the word "unqualified" in any description of their level of success so far, but success isn't easy to achieve when your objectives involve the constant reiteration of facts that very few people would dispute.
The EPPC is just a fancy name for another right wing think tank, as if the term "moral society" didn't give that revelation away. At this particular moment in time, I'm sure what they think is that Volkswagen ought to be able to make any kind of car it wants, Johnson & Johnson should be able to peddle any drug it can make a buck on, and that Pope Francis should stick to dispensing religion and leave the future of the planet to people paid to deny climate change.
Articles written by authors with Mr. Wehner's credentials tend to focus on how everything bad that has happened since the dawn of the Ice Age can be laid at Barack Obama's doorstep. The piece in the Times was essentially an extended whine about how Mr. Obama has failed miserably in his promise to bring the country together. It was an odd accusation to be leveled by a man representing the party that built a massive barricade in the road seven years ago and has subsequently berated the president for not being able to simply walk through it.
I wasn't surprised then that, according to him, the Syrian refugee crisis could have been avoided if only Mr. Obama had followed his predecessor's lead and opened up another theater of mass destruction in that part of the world. Dead civilians, after all, tend to ameliorate the problem of refugees. Mr. Wehner conveniently omits the detail about how George W. Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq, now regarded as the worst blunder in the history of American foreign policy, was so invaluable in the ultimate rise of ISIS.
What President Obama is doing is the same thing he has been trying to do since the first day he took office: Attempting to clean up the holy mess that the last Republican administration left in its wake. And he has been fought every step of the way by the remnants of the party without whose unquestioned allegiance Mr. Bush could not have wreaked his havoc upon America and the world. The president is intelligent enough to know that the crisis in Syria cannot be an instant replay of the catastrophic mistakes that W. and his trigger-happy cohorts made in Iraq.
Mr. Wehner saved the best for last where he even manages to foist the rise of Donald Trump onto Mr. Obama's shoulders. Trump is anathema to Republicans of Wehner's ilk because their current front-runner states, in a style that ranges from bumbling to offensive to thuggish, the party's core values without the shiny coat of varnish that is so necessary for mass consumption.
Sorry, Mr. Wehner, but the GOP has pandered relentlessly to the worst aspects of the American character since some genius operative saw the South as the promised land after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 put the collective noses of the nice white folks in that area permanently out of joint. Since then, the party has scrounged up every misbegotten crusade in Christendom and held it up for the faithful to latch onto, exactly like Dr. Frankenstein went about collecting the body parts necessary to assemble his monster. The party of Lincoln is now the party where the frontrunner for a presidential nomination is an inarticulate boor who publicly makes fun of people with physical disabilities.
The Republican Party has got the monster they both built and deserve, Mr. Wehner. Now deal with it. And good luck.