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The GOP's Fifth Column

Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:52 AM

During the Spanish Civil War, a general involved in the Siege of Madrid, commanding four columns of troops, announced that he had a "fifth column" inside the besieged city, which would assure victory for his four columns. The victory came less easily than he had predicted, but the phrase "fifth column" became a permanent part of the vocabulary of conflict. In my opinion, today's defenders of the US Constitution, conservative, libertarian, or independent, need to be clear that they have a fifth column in the Republican Party.

The term "Republican in Name Only" (RINO) has become a convenient label for a Republican who votes often with, or like, the Democrats. The term, with its humorous reference to the rhinoceros, suggests a huge, wild, horned beast who can wreak havoc. Calling GOP renegades RINOs is useful within limits, but, at the risk of describing the obvious, I think the term RINO can be and has been misleading, if not downright dangerous.

First of all, a Republican who disagrees with another Republican is still a Republican. Unless he or she is actively sabotaging the party, the epithet "in name only" is undeserved.

What, however, about the Republicans who are actively sabotaging the party? That's where the term "fifth column" becomes useful, and, in my opinion, necessary.

There are two outstanding recent examples. All House Republicans, and all but three Senate Republicans held fast in resisting the act of legalized looting called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The name itself is an obscenity, because the effect of the bill was to delay or prevent an economic recovery, and to forestall reinvestment in the stock market by investors. The bill could have been blocked, but for the sabotage of Arlen Specter R-PA, Olympia Snowe R-ME, and Susan Collins, R-ME, who cut a deal, essentially bogus, with the Democrats. In my opinion, Specter, Snowe, and Collins were not mere RINOs. They were a fifth column which betrayed a besieged Republican Party, and which consequentially betrayed the American middle class.

The second example took place in California a week or so after the looting bill. Democrats had engineered runaway spending to the point of pushing the state into bankruptcy. It was a calculated move so that they could bulldoze a tax increase by spreading fear and panic, and by making threats to lay off government employees. The RINO governor, Schwarzenegger, married to a Kennedy, proposed a "compromise" bill involving "spending cuts" (sacrificial lambs created as part of the tax increase plan) combined with tax increases. Magnificently, the Republicans held fast and refused to vote for the tax increases. (One of them, Dennis Hollingsworth R-Murrieta, gave an impassioned speech denouncing the Democrat tax-raising ploy.) The resistance, however, was sabotaged by a fifth column including Schwarzenneger and Abel Maldonado R-15th District. The tax increases were passed.

My view of a political party, any political party, is that dissent is not only tolerable, but necessary to the democratic process, up to a point. That point is where one, or a few members, functioning a fifth column, negate the party's reason for existence. In my opinion, Specter, Snowe, Collins, Maldonado, and Schwarzenegger, in the instances described above, succeeded in negating the reason that the Republican Party exists - as a loyal opposition to Democrats who have gone completely out of control.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org bill column democrats fifth party republican tax ]