Despite the cynicism and damage that their behavior inflicts on American institutions, Republicans are again showing their win-at-all-cost, scorched earth political tendencies.
In 2004, faced with a Democratic candidate for the presidency who was a recipient of the Purple Heart, the GOP chose to cast doubt on the medal itself. It was no longer enough for a member of the U.S. armed forces to receive the award under established procedures. Any awardee was now assumed to be nondeserving unless the suspicions of Republicans and their allies were satisfied, not that they ever could be.
In 2008, it was the birth certification procedures of an American state. Last week, following improving job numbers reported from career civil servants in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this nonpartisan government agency was declared by many on the right to be manipulating statistics. A Washington Post article reprinted by the Post-Gazette on Saturday outlined the many security procedures around the data, including an eight-day security lockdown of issuing economists before the report's release ("Unemployment Rate Fell in September, But How Do We Know Its Accuracy?" Oct. 6).
These never-ceasing, unfounded conspiracy theories from conservatives have a corrosive effect on Americans' trust that our society can operate for the common good. Political efforts like these were once considered to be a feature of less-developed countries. Courtesy mainly of right-wing vitriol, they're becoming an unwelcome aspect of political life in the United States as well.