This January begins the sixth year of George W. Bush's presidency. One of the major promises of this president was to bring integrity back to the White House. He implied that President Clinton had brought shame upon the White House because of his many personal scandals. However, over the last year, the President and his inner circle have been bombarded with scandal after scandal. But, there is a difference between the Bush scandals and the Clinton scandals. A major difference! President Clinton's scandals were personal. Any consequences of his actions did not impact the American people. Yes, most people felt it was shameful, but not one person died, not one person lost a job, not one person suffered personally because of what President Clinton did. However, many are suffering because of the scandals of this White House.
Let's begin with the first major lies that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Saddam Hussein was directly linked with Al Qaeda and presented an immediate threat to America. How many of our young people have given their lives, lost limbs, families and, in some cases, their mental health? Because of the fabrication of information, wives are now widows, mothers and fathers are now without their children, and children have lost one or both of their parents. But, it is not just the President. The list is extensive. Tom Delay (R-TX) is under indictment for breaking his state's campaign finance laws; Scooter Libby from the Vice President's Office is alleged to have leaked the name of a CIA operative; Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-California) pled guilty to accepting bribes (News.yahoo.com 28 Nov 2005); and Michael Scanlon, a Republican political operative, publicist and former press spokesman for the former House Majority Leader Delay, pled guilty to conspiracy.
These are only a few of the scandals reported by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and BusinessWeek [retrieved from the World Socialist Web Site www.wsws.org].
There are also the allegations of secret meetings held with major representatives from energy companies that severely compromise the development of any meaningful energy policies and contracts given without competition in New Orleans to Halliburton and others. The most recent scandal of this presidency is illegal domestic spying.
The recent scandals of a handful of Republicans are appearing to have a major impact on the remaining Republicans that are law abiding. Like any party, there will be those elected to offices who really wish to serve the people, and there will be those who really wish to serve themselves.
However, presently there is evidence of the perception that one bad apple has spoiled the barrel (or in this case a few bad apples). In recent elections, Republicans that are seeking reelection were slowly breaking ranks with the President. Political pundits reported that the breaking of ranks was not just because Bush is a lame duck president, but rather because a few months ago the President had one of the lowest ratings of a president in history. For instance, in a tight gubernatorial race in Virginia (November 2005), the President's appearance, a day before the election, made no difference in the votes. The President's recent effort to speak out on where he is taking the country has had a small impact on his approval ratings. Hopefully, within the next few months the President's approval rating will increase and the Republican Party will not lose control of the Senate or House during the upcoming elections. The Republican Party needs to prove to the people in this country how the Republican agenda will help the majority of the population, not destroy them.
Now on the home front, presently it is not a good time to be a Republican here in the Virgin Islands. Not only is it embarrassing, it is challenging.
V.I. Republicans here receive dual strife. First, the scandal from the national level, and second, the lack of leadership at the local level. The Virgin Islands Republican leadership (State Chair, National Committeeman, and National Committeewoman) is horrendous. The by-laws state that the Territorial Committee should meet four times a year. However, this leadership has only met twice in the past 15 months. Any individual who is a registered Republican should be appalled. Locally, we should question why the only time certain Republicans are vocal is when personal issues are at play (e.g., Chad Messer (letter to Source July 2004) wanting attorney Gomez to become a judge).
Where is the local Republican leadership now that President Bush's popularity is on the decline? The people of the V.I. should ask V.I. Republicans why the party has not shown any empathy for the problems occurring on a day-to-day basis. Virgin Islanders should ask registered V.I. Republicans why their leadership does not want the party to grow. The answer is obvious – so they can control the Party (the smaller the party, the less the opposition).
Ask registered members of the V.I. Republican Party why their leadership has not publicly spoken out on issues that are still plaguing the territory, such as education (Leave No Child Behind), housing, transportation, health care, agriculture, teen pregnancy, poverty, retirement pensions, government officials' raises, government employees retro, jobs, crime, etc. Ask these V.I. Republicans why they are Republicans and why they continue to elect the same individuals to lead a party that gives the appearance that we (Republicans) do not care about the people of the Virgin Islands? The average person can only assume that these leaders must not encounter the same problems as the typical Virgin Islanders. Are these "misleaders" traveling the same roads, eating at the same restaurants, or visiting the same gas stations? These are questions all people should ask any registered V.I. Republican. But, do not be disappointed if you do not get an answer. Most V.I. Republicans are not open about their own party as they are afraid of the repercussions.
Honesty may cause some to lose tenants in their private homes or business space in local malls. Others fear the risk of losing friends, or, more importantly, losing jobs. Many V.I. Republicans start out with the intention to put up a good fight; however, as people approach them and voice their concerns, or challenge the perceived philosophy of what a Republican is, many V.I. Republicans stop coming to meetings and choose to be "closet" Republicans.
Unfortunately, most V.I. Republicans are scared off by the powerful Democratic cabal, which runs this territory.
Editor's note: Lawrence Boschulte represented the V.I., at the Republican National Convention.
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to [email protected].