The news that forty Republican senators have announced their support for Paul Ryan's budget plan is not surprising. But, when you review what passes for the usual Republican boilerplate these days, what is surprising is how much the Republicans sound like Pap Finn.
Pap only puts in a quick appearance at the beginning of Twain's novel, where he goes on at some length about the tyranny of government:
They call that govment! A man can’t get his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes I’ve a mighty notion to just leave the country for good and all. Yes, and I told ‘em so; I told old Thatcher so to his face. Lots of ‘em heard me, and can tell what I said. Says I, for two cents I’d leave the blamed country and never come anear it agin. Them’s the very words. I says, look at my hat-if you call it a hat but the lid raises up and the rest of it goes down till it’s below my chin, and then it ain’t rightly a hat at all, but more like my head was shoved up through a jint o’ stove-pipe. Look at it, says I-such a hat for me to wear-one of the wealthiest men in this town, if I could git my rights.
The government, Pap fumes, is always standing between him and the money which is rightfully his. Never once does it occur to him that his circumstances are self inflicted. A recent chart, published in Talking Points Memo puts the deficit into perspective:
While they rail against the profligate Obama administration, the fact is that Republicans have been the chief architects of the problem. Like Pap, they go through occasional periods of remorse and pledge themselves to fiscal sobriety. But the conversion never lasts long.
Twain wrote that Huck Finn suffered from a "deformed conscience." His salvation lay in the fact that he was willing to rebel against the conventional wisdom of his time and place, even if it meant -- wrongly, of course -- that he would "go to hell." If Republicans (and Democrats) had the courage to rebel against the prevailing economic theology of the age, they just might find salvation.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.