GUEST COLUMNIST: Republican Party Starts to Kill Its Own – by Mike Lupica
S.C. Rep. Bob Inglis ousted for not hating Obama enough
There are landmarks all over our city named after LaGuardia and Javits and Rockefeller, names out of the city’s great Republican past, when the party was one of intelligence, not fear-mongering and hate. When its membership included even the great name put to the Jackie Robinson Parkway.
Rep. Bob Inglis, a voice of reason at a dumb, unreasonable time in American politics, is one of them. Inglis (R-S.C.) will be out of a job soon for not hating Barack Obama nearly enough. The irony, he says, is that he disagrees with Obama on almost everything.
Inglis, a conservative Republican from a state so red you worry it might set itself on fire, used to go after Bill Clinton with everything he had. But these days he comes up an even better American than a Republican, speaking his own mind, refusing to join a chorus of idiots and call Obama his enemy, or an enemy of the state. Inglis’ state or anybody else’s.
“I figured out early in the race I was taking a risk by being unwilling to call the President a socialist,” Inglis says. “I’d get asked a question and they’d all wait to see if I’d use the word – socialist – they were throwing around. I wouldn’t. Because I don’t think that’s what he is.
“To call him a socialist is to demean the office and stir up a passion that we need to be calming, rather than constantly stirring up.”
Listen to the guy. He doesn’t sound like some sore loser. Instead, Bob Inglis sounds like the ignored conscience of an increasingly crackpot party.
He makes quiet sense in a dumb, loud, dangerous time in American politics. He leaves Congress the first week of January, having just been clobbered in a primary runoff by a Tea Party guy named Trey Gowdy who constantly attacked Inglis for not being conservative enough, even though Inglis has a 93% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.
This isn’t about Inglis not being conservative enough. It’s about him not hating Obama enough. In the eyes of the self-appointed, self-anointed defenders of our virtue, that clearly means he doesn’t love America enough.
“A colleague of mine from the House said to me recently her father once told her leaders can either lead or mislead,” Inglis says.
“What we are seeing these days is so much misleading. They say one outlandish thing after another about the President and that gives license to others to say even worse things.
“When you have one of our so-called leaders saying that Obama is a socialist, then others feel empowered to dial up the rhetoric and call him a Marxist. Or a Communist. Then you have something worse than words, you have the dehumanizing and demonizing of the President of the United States. And when that happens across history, scary things can happen.”
Inglis is smart enough to know it wasn’t just his refusal to call the President names that turned him into one more unemployed American. He voted for TARP and against the surge in Iraq and even called out Glenn Beck, a rough, tough media guy who thinks ad hominem attacks are great until he’s the hominem.
In the primary runoff, Inglis’ opponent got 71% of the vote. It’s never just one thing when you get carried out of the ring like that.
“I was at a breakfast and somebody said the President wasn’t patriotic,” Inglis says. “I knew I was supposed to go along. Instead, I got up and said, ‘That’s simply not true. I disagree with this President most of the time, but he loves his country.’ Afterward a big Republican operative in our state grabbed me and said, ‘Don’t give him that.’ I said, ‘Give him what?’ And the guy said, ‘That he’s patriotic.’
“Why do I have to see Democrats as my enemies? I’ve got Al Qaeda. I’ve got the Taliban. I’ve got enough enemies. I’m supposed to call this President despicable? The people who are despicable are the ones who constantly mislead the public in the interest of selling books. Or themselves. And always cloaking themselves in patriotism. Shame on them.”
He laughs softly.
“But then what do I know?” Bob Inglis says. “I lost.”
His district did. His state did. His party did. He did not.