"Drill, baby, drill" is not a dying bird in the Gulf of Mexico, but it should be. Those three words have become the albatross hanging around the neck of the Republican Party. It should stay there until the party faces the fact that it has to become more than an unquestioning shill for big business, particularly big oil. Those words should be an epitaph for the old way of doing business, of always saying what the masters of profit fund a politician to say.
Only a fast-moving case of heavy Alzheimer's could make us forget all of those elephants chanting the slogan at the national convention in 2008. There also is ample footage of Sarah Palin, the shrewd, cynical and demented cheerleader bringing audiences into a happy state of froth in which those three words gushed out over and over.
Palin and her partner in intellectual slime, Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, have joined Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News in the entertainment business of leading the public to believe that there is not now and has never been anything wrong with American business dealings, domestic or abroad.
This is always good for the country because it can clarify where our "leaders" are coming from -- and remake the public's political perspectives in significant ways. It is far too hard for most ordinary Republicans to stand in public and say, as Republican Congressman Don Young did a few days ago, that what is happening in the Gulf is "not an environmental disaster." No fault, no blame. Right.
Other shills waiting to be recast as Dr. Strangelove blame it all on regulations and government chasing big oil out where it was deemed safe to drill. All of the easily proven corruption, lying and distortion deeply involving BP is not to be mentioned.
Republicans need very badly to find a middle ground on which they can address environmental concerns and become part of a bipartisan effort that has nothing to do with selling out to the urging of old-time hippies, high on marijuana and dressed in green dreams.
A very good beginning for Republicans at large would be an investigation of Republicans for Environmental Protection, an organization that cites important environmental legislation by presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan.
After all, there is a history to Republican concern that began with Roosevelt, who essentially invented modern governmental concern for nature. Roosevelt also took on what was yet to be the indifferent threat to the planet that big oil has since become. Fully informed about the differences between religion and science, knowledgeable of the details of how and why things are wrong in so many areas of business that endanger human, animal and marine life, there is a great need for a new T.R. suited to our time of incompetence, corruption and disregard for anything that might limit profit.
As I have said and will continue to say as long as I write, American capitalism is not opposed to profit -- it simply demands that the profit motive fuse with morality and ethics. Yes, you can have people work for you, but you cannot own them. Yes, you can sell food, but it cannot be knowingly tainted. And so on. That is the American way, and it is also the enemy of those too greedy to avoid playing dirty pool if it will turn a buck.
If the Republican Party comes to understand this, our destiny in this century will be far different from where we are now. If we simply listen to the elephants, we will just stand still as shills for big business and watch the Chinese win the race for economic dominance by adapting their version of totalitarian capitalism to meet an inevitably green future.
The Chinese might be one of the biggest polluters in the world, but they also think ahead. These totalitarian capitalists are seriously working at cornering the market on green technology because they know that is where we all will have to go. Understanding the difference between appetites created by advertising and the changes that will come when facing unavoidable necessities is how future profit will emerge and increase.
One conquers the world today by taking over international markets, not with troops and weaponry. This is the new form of world war. The Chinese intend to count their winnings with green thumbs -- and so should we.
Perhaps the Republicans can wake up to that reality and stop allowing wing nuts to drown out a voice of doom chanting "Drill, baby, drill."
Stanley Crouch can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.