As recently as three days ago, Republicans could not heap enough praise on a freeloading rancher in Nevada, Cliven Bundy. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) called him a patriot. Others described him as a symbol of freedom. Fox News covered the Bundy story 24-7. Sean Hannity said he would go to Nevada and stand with Bundy to block Federal Marshalls from executing a court order.
The right-wing radio and blog machine was in heaven. Then, the truth began coming out. Bundy exposed himself, and these fair-weather-friends are now running for cover.
The facts in the case are this: Since 1954, Bundy has been grazing his cattle on taxpayer-owned land managed by the BLM. In 1993, after the election of Bill Clinton, Bundy declared that he did not recognize the United States government, and he stopped paying his heavily subsidized grazing fees. (Bundy was only being charged about $1 per head per month while most ranchers paid up to $12/head.) He has been ordered by the court to pay the fees and fines, now totaling over $1 million dollars.
In other words, Bundy is a freeloading scofflaw who is stealing from taxpayers to the detriment of all law-abiding ranchers who pay their grazing fees. In other words, he is a taker. Paul Ryan and others do not classify him as such, however, because he is not on food stamps (far as we know).
The Bundy-hero narrative, spread by Republican thought-leaders, was that this God-fearing patriot was under siege by the tyrannical Obama administration. Bundy, they said, had ancestral rights to that land. (Native Americans might have a slightly different view about who has ancestral rights.)
This narrative began to unravel Wednesday when reporters discovered Bundy was lying when he said his family had run cattle there since before the BLM was created. The facts are that Bundy’s parents bought the land in 1948, and they did not run cattle on the leased government land until 1954—long after the BLM managed the land which, by the way, was federal land before Nevada became a state.
Bundy was undaunted after he was busted for lying because Fox News and Rush Limbaugh did not report it. He felt emboldened so he gave an interview stating his views about Negros (his word). The only possible connection between Negros and this situation is that President Obama and Attorney General Holder are African-Americans, and Bundy apparently has a low opinion of the race in general.
Bundy said that Negros were better off as slaves because they do not know how to pick cotton. When recalled how he drove past a housing project in North Las Vegas and saw these “little government houses with five or six people sitting on the front porch and they have nothing to do. Bundy went on:
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children; they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Shortly after this interview went viral, Republicans began distancing themselves from their new hero. Senator Heller, who called Bundy a patriot, was shocked and now calls his remarks “appalling.” Rand Paul, who earlier thought Bundy was standing up to government overreach, also blasted Bundy. Even Sean “Stand with Cliven” Hannity renounced Bundy’s remarks. Other GOP thought-leaders have been very quiet.
It seems, when Bundy was just anti-American, he was a patriot, but when he made racist remarks that might hurt the Republican brand, Republicans were suddenly appalled. They don’t realize Bundy is the new Republican brand. They do not even see how ridiculous it is for a guy, who does not recognize the existence of the U.S. government, riding his horse waving a huge American flag.
All the signs were there from the start. Bundy is a born-again disciple of Posse Comitatis of the ‘70s, and recognizes no authority but the sheriff. Friday, he told CNN that those words would not offend him.
There was never any justification for defending Bundy even before he exposed himself. He is a thief who is stealing from taxpayers. Now, we know he is a bigot as well. The blatant hypocrisy of Republican politicians would be funny if they were not running the Congress and 30 of the 50 states.