First it was the sick and the elderly. Then it was the unemployed. Then it was the economy.

All of them held hostage by a rigid Republican ideology which brooks no exception for any reason whatever.

The latest victims of Republican budgetary zealotry are the millions of victims of Hurricane Irene.

Folks now without electricity, roads, clean water or houses to live in must perforce serve as tea-party pawns in their vicious effort to destroy the government.

The leader of this drive to deepen the misery of millions, Eric Cantor, R-Va., has made it clear that Republicans will allow no additional funding for FEMA without off-setting cuts elsewhere. Even if Democrats were on board with this scheme — which, hopefully, they are not — the actual follow-through could take weeks of negotiation. And assuming the Democrats find spine enough to actually fight this cruel idea, a resolution could take months.

If Cantor is adamant about this — and he very likely is, considering his past success browbeating President Barack Obama and the Democrats into submission — then he and his Republican allies intend to stand aloof from the suffering of millions of voters, including many in Republican states, while they score political and ideological points. Compassionate conservatism indeed.

One can only wonder how much longer Americans will let themselves be duped into electing politicians who care more about corporations than they do about people.

Michael Russo


Baton Rouge