What is it the Republican Party has against religious freedom, private property and the U.S. Constitution?
The question is raised as the GOP scrounges for votes by opposing construction of an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site. In the absence of any credible contributions to critical public-policy issues, the R's struggle to change the topic.
Republicans are shocked — shocked — that faithful Muslims would try to build on a site they have owned for years, near two other centers that are busy to the point of being overcrowded.
The former retail store is two blocks away from Ground Zero, sacred space indeed, consecrated by the innocent blood spilled by terrorists. This is the site where thousands of firefighters, police and citizen volunteers turned out to search for survivors and recover victims of all faiths and creeds amid the toxic wreckage.
Thousands of those selfless responders are now ill, and Republicans refused to pay for their health care. Evidently they were more appalled by the idea of chasing down offshore tax evaders to pay for the medical relief than by refusing to provide it.
So it has gone, and so it must be explained as attention turns to the November general election. Where are the Republicans on any substantive public issue? They have had nothing to say, no policies to offer and produced nothing but "no" votes to block Democratic efforts.
Voters worried about jobs, housing and raising families in an economic environment where all the old assumptions are bruised and battered have to ask themselves where the Republican Party wants to lead them.
Sure, let's just assume President Obama and the Democrats who labored to expand health-care coverage, pass financial reforms and consumer protections, prop up the banking system and staunch job losses got it all wrong. Major legislative achievements, but they got it wrong, OK?
The GOP wanted to do what? One cannot even argue the party had bad ideas and flawed thinking. In the midst of an extraordinary economic crisis Republicans did nothing, content to play parliamentary games and mindlessly vote "no."
Republicans oppose letting the Bush tax cuts lapse. Those tax rollbacks were passed as the party doubled the debt and started two wars. Essentially, they ran up the credit card bill, and cut the monthly payment.
The GOP is totally focused on the federal deficit, except for accepting any responsibility for its size and paying if off. Remember those bygone federal budget surpluses? Read my lips. Presidents Bush, the elder, and Clinton set them in motion with tax revenue.
For pure political hypocrisy on the budget, it is hard to beat the GOP drama queens in state capitols. The Republican governors of South Carolina, Georgia and Nebraska — even the Democratic governor of Tennessee — were never, ever going to accept federal funds to help the unemployed.
Now their hands are out for the money, and they eagerly queued up for more federal dollars to pay teacher salaries. Headlines about their change of heart never matched the bombast about their virtuous refusals.
Republicans are mute on Iraq and Afghanistan, apparently happy to provide Pentagon contractors with more billable hours.
Ever since Republicans grabbed a beer and slid down the emergency ramp, voters must hold Democrats accountable for dealing with federal deficits, ending two wars, and crafting public policy to restore the economy and environment.
Republicans took themselves out of the conversation and steadfastly refuse to say what they might do. Scary. Exploiting fear and anger is even more disastrous for the country than the GOP pandering to greed.