One of the big themes in the current Republican ideology is the idea that those people — the 47 percent, the blahs, the moochers and takers and illegals — are criminal.
Black voters are therefore treated as guilty-until-proven-innocent of mythical voter fraud. Medicare isn’t a lifeline for American seniors, but rather a hotbed of fraudulent criminality. Every form of anything that can be called “welfare” — from food stamps to unemployment benefits — is denounced as a hand-out to frauds who are only pretending to be poor or pretending to be sick or pretending to be unable to find work.
That’s why it was so startling to hear one right-wing Republican member of Congress tell his constituents that there is no such thing as voter fraud or Medicare fraud or welfare fraud. Even more surprisingly, this conservative congressman called for the legalization of marijuana and prostitution, and for the immediate release of Bradley Manning.
He didn’t say it in so many words, of course, but what else are we to make of this statement from Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.?
For a criminal practice there has to be a gun. It’s pretty simple.
McClintock didn’t really mean to suggest that Timothy McVeigh and O.J. Simpson weren’t guilty of crimes. Nor did he apparently really mean to say that smoking marijuana shouldn’t be a crime, or that there is no such thing as Medicare fraud or voter fraud.
The Republican was simply responding to a constituent’s question about “Wall Street criminal practices,” and McClintock’s belief that Wall Street criminal practices ought never to be prosecuted is so sweeping and extreme that his response was equally sweeping and extreme. It’s not that McClintock really believes that Wall Street can’t have criminal practices because they don’t use guns. It’s that he believes Wall Street can’t have criminal practices because they’re wealthy white men in suits.
Or maybe just because they’re his biggest donors.
McClintock’s staggeringly dumb explanation for his staggeringly immoral views pretty much requires us to end with Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd,” so here’s Bob Dylan’s version:
Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won’t never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.