Nel's New Day

September 17, 2011

Listen to Candidates–And What They Don’t Say

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:46 PM

People decide on their favorite candidates based on what they hear from politicians. One piece of advice from Lee Hamilton, former representative (D-IN), is that people should listen carefully because “they [politicians] usually know what they’re talking about, are cautious when they don’t know, and are adept at wording their sentences for maximum appeal.” (Of course, Hamilton was the chair of  the House Task Force that cleared President George Bush when he was accused of going to Paris 12 years earlier to cinch a deal of weapons for Iran in exchange for retaining American hostages to be delivered to President Ronald Reagan and not to outgoing President Jimmy Carter. Not necessarily a source of reliable advice.)

In the last election, people listened carefully to their favorite conservative and Tea Party candidates as they promised to lower taxes and provide more jobs. Much to the voters’ surprise, these candidates went in a different direction after they were elected. For example, Wisconsin police and firefighters were amazed when their candidate, Gov. Scott Walker, decided to take away their union rights and lower their take-home pay. Other people were amazed when the Tea Party people campaigned on lower taxes and increased employment before they spent all their time taking away women’s reproductive rights and trying to erase Medicare and Social Security.

Although the House of Representatives claimed that their repeal of President Obama’s health care act would stop “job killing” and that the retention of money going to the wealthy would “create jobs,” no act directed toward creating jobs was introduced for the first eight months that these Tea Party folks were in office. Even now, the conservatives’ approach to reducing unemployment, ala Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), continues to be reduction in spending, taxation for the wealthy, and regulations.

The Republican presidential candidates have continued the pattern of ranting about needing jobs, but their campaigning and the questions at the debates have clearly avoided “moral” questions. There has been no discussion about abortion, none about LGBT issues such as same-sex marriage and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” which now allowed gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military (at least after September 20). They have said enough about these subjects earlier for people to know that they oppose reproductive and LGBT rights, but watching them campaign and debate, however, shows even more about how they would govern if elected president.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced to a cheering audience that the 234 executions during his terms were based on “thoughtful” consideration and all justified. He also refused to intervene in Cameron Todd Willingham’s execution—“even after significant evidence emerged showing that arson had not caused the fire (thus exonerating Willingham)” Perry believes that once a decision is made that there is no change. The highly conservative U.S. Supreme Court disagrees. This past week it blocked an execution because jurors were told that the murderer posed a greater danger to public safety because he was black. Perry had refused to intervene in that execution either. Perry’s governing: never change your mind even if you’re wrong.

Current Republican candidates had shown their indifference to the plight of their potential constituents. For example, when Wolf Blitzer, as moderator for the recent Florida Tea Party debate, asked who should pay if a healthy young man chooses not to have health insurance and then he needs it because something “terrible” happens and he goes into a coma. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) answered, “What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” once again to the cheers from the audience. He didn’t say that the man in the hypothetical case should be left to die, but he did say that in the past that the community, the neighborhood, and the churches would take care of sick people. Evidently that’s his solution now. Over one-fourth of the people in Paul’s state lack health insurance; nationwide 16.3 percent do not have this insurance with the number rising each day. Paul’s governing: hope that neighbors will solve the problems.

Well-known for her mistakes in history, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has moved onto the health field in a caring manner—if it might destroy a competitor. To refute Perry’s suggestion that he mandate that a vaccine for young girls preventing a sexually transmitted virus that could result in cervical cancer, she said that the vaccine is linked to “mental retardation.” Bachmann is totally wrong in this statement, but her staff justifies her mistakes with a passion. Ed Rollins, her former campaign manager, said, “Mrs. Bachman’s an emotional person who basically has great feeling for people.” People who know her, promised anonymity, said that she is influenced by the last person she speaks with on an issue, a frightening strategy for a U.S. president—or even a representative of the people. Even conservative pundits, including Rush Limbaugh, came out against her mistaken claim. Is it possible that this statement is “the nail in the coffin in her campaign” as Jim Dyke, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, stated? Bachmann’s governing: whatever the last person just said.

The choices that candidates make in selecting their staff also tell a great deal about them. A month ago Mitt Romney selected Robert Bork as a member of his campaign’s legal advisory team. That’s the same Robert Bork whose views of the law and Constitution were so extreme that the Senate rejected his 1987 Supreme Court nomination. Bork opposes the Civil Rights Act and claims that the Equal Protection Clause does not apply to women. According to Bork, the country is unwilling or unable “to suppress public obscenity, punish crime, reform welfare, attach stigma to the bearing of illegitimate children, resist the demands of self-proclaimed victim groups for preferential treatment, or maintain standards of reason and scholarship.” Abortion, technology, affluence, hedonism, and modern liberalism are gradually ruining the nation’s culture, he said. This is the man who will advise Romney. Romney’s governing: pick the most conservative person you can find to give you advice.

Hypocrisy is something that follows most politicians. For example, former Sen. Rick Santorum pushes his beliefs in small government and no earmarks (now special project money because earmarks are against policy in the House of Representatives). Yet in 2003 he managed to get over $3.1 million in federal earmarks for social conservative causes–over $1 million of which has gone to the anti-gay Urban Family Council. He endorses national service, promotion of prison ministries, “individual development accounts,” publicly financed trust funds for children, community investment incentives, strengthened obscenity enforcement, covenant marriage, assorted tax breaks, and more.  He is opposed to a constitutional (or, as far as one can tell, moral) right to privacy, which he regards as a “constitutional wrecking ball” that is contrary to the principle of the common good, and the notions of government neutrality and free expression. He even thinks the government has a right to ban contraception. Freedom to Santorum must mean freedom for people who agree with him. Santorum’s governing: talk small government and then force people into your version of Christianity.

Herman Cain deserves a mention among Republican presidential candidates because he is running close to the top of some of the polls. He has no government experience which makes him likable to some people. (I always wonder if the same people would be as pleased to have a doctor with no experience or training.) He’s a fast learner, though, because he avoids directly answering questions, such as this one from Today Show substitute host Savannah Guthrie: “You said essentially your inexperience–the fact that you have never been elected and never held public office–is a plus. My question to you is if you were still a CEO, if you were in business, would you hire someone for a key role who had no experience whatsoever in business.” When he claims that he has run a business and can run a government, looking at his federal campaign filings may indicate how he would be president. They show that Cain’s presidential committee, Friends of Herman Cain, spent $448,000 on air travel in the first half of 2011, nearly $2,500 a day, and nearly $100,000 in the first half of the year—or $538 a day—on hotels, some of them very expensive. (Cain likes the Ritz Carlton chain although he also dropped $5,102 in a single day at the famous Beverly Wilshire Hotel.) Craig Robinson, the former political director of the Iowa Republican Party, wrote on his site, “If Cain’s campaign was being run like a business, it might be on the verge of bankruptcy.” Cain’s governing: spend lots of money.

The finest hypocrite, however, is Perry. He’s the man who leads a state in which 25 percent of adult men have no health insurance. In an attack on family planning services for low-incomeTexaswomen, he signed a budget bill reducing the state’s family planning funding by two-thirds. He and the state legislature have joined to defund Planned Parenthood, an important source of contraception for low-income women. He prides himself on managing childbirth through abstinence when he explains why teenagers need no sex education—this in a state that has the highest rate of teen pregnancy. Perry is a hypocrite in this case because he had a vasectomy as his preferred contraception, surgery that costs over $1,000 without insurance. So Perry can afford one, but probably half the men inTexascannot. Nice job, Perry. (I mention this personal information about Perry because he refuses reproductive rights to others.) Perry’s next governing: do as I say and not as I do.

Former President Jimmy Carter said, “If the misery if others leaves you indifferent and with no feeling of sorrow, then you cannot be called a human being.” Republican presidential candidates should be examined to see if they can be called human beings.

1 Comment »

  1. What will stop their ruthless dogmatism/s?


    Comment by Lee Lynch — September 17, 2011 @ 9:28 PM | Reply

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