Current GOP politicians may need to be polite about the far-right crazies in their party, but older ones who are no longer in office are sometimes being brutally honest. One of these is Bruce Bartlett, a senior policy analyst for George H.W. Bush. On “All In,” Chris Hayes asked Bartlett about a column by conservative George Will announcing that Donald Trump had no place in his party. Will wrote:
“So, conservatives today should deal with Trump with the firmness [William] Buckley dealt with the John Birch Society in 1962. The society was an extension of a loony businessman who said Dwight Eisenhower was ‘a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.’ In a 5,000-word National Review ‘excoriation’ (Buckley’s word), he excommunicated the society from the conservative movement.”
(I wonder if Will knows that the Koch brothers trace their lineage back to the John Birch Society. But that’s subject for another day.)
Bartlett had earlier written about Trump representing the “populism and anti-intellectualism that became dominant in the Republican Party with the rise of the Tea Party.” Hayes asked him to expand on his previous op-ed. Bartlett said:
“Oh, I love Donald Trump because he exposes everything about the Republican Party that I have frankly come to hate. It is just filled with people who are crazy, and stupid, and have absolutely no idea of what they are taking about. And the candidates, no matter how intelligent they may be, just constantly have to keep pandering to this lowest common denominator in American politics.”
According to Bartlett, issues and policies no longer matter; only “attitude” matters. He may have been referring to Trump, but “attitude” runs rampant among most of the GOP presidential candidates.
The Iraq War: In a speech to the Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security (APPS), a group formed and backed by people associated with major defense contractors, Jeb Bush didn’t rule out bringing back torture. He also called the Iraq War “a pretty good deal,” saying that the “mission was accomplished.” The “good deal” that found no weapons of mass destruction cost at least 4,424 U.S. lives (not including those who came home and killed themselves because of the war), lives of hundreds of civilians and military involved in reconstruction (not made public), over 115,000 Iraqi lives (some people say 600,000 or more), and $1.7 trillion in direct expenses which will expand to over $6 trillion with VA benefits and other costs.
Cuba: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lambasted the president for expanding trade and travel with Cuba after over 50 years, but he struggled with the truth. He claimed that the “people have a standard of living well below that of virtually every other nation in the hemisphere.” Fact: Cuba is rated above all its Caribbean neighbors, including Mexico, as well as above Central America and much of South America. Its infant mortality rate is lower than in the U.S. and holds the lowest HIV rate of the Americas. This summer Cuba became the first country in the world to eliminate transmission of HIV and syphilis from mothers to children.
Iran Deal: Asked for why he opposes the Iran deal, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, compared his foreign policy position to requiring that his sons keep the door open when they hosted girls in their bedrooms. He compared the agreement to permitting teenage boys to keep the doors closed and warning them before entering the room. President Obama suggested a few months ago that Walker take “some time to bone up on foreign policy.” He must not have had any time since then because the agreement calls for continuous monitoring of all Iran’s sites including centrifuge workshops–in short, the door is open.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is even more creative in his method of opposing the Iran agreement: he wants individual states to impose their own sanctions on the money the Obama administration has agreed to release as part of the deal. Cruz evidently thinks that each state can develop its own foreign policies although the Supreme Court ruled that only the president can make foreign policy. If Congress also had that right, the U.S. would have two foreign policies and states, that lack the authority of federal banking laws or international finance, would add more. Cruz agreed that the Supreme Court precedent might be in opposition, but he prides himself on his success against the George W. Bush administration by stopping its order from the International Criminal Court to state judicial proceedings.
Black Lives Matter: After activists from “Black Lives Matter” interrupted the end of Bush’s Las Vegas campaign event, the candidate said that he had met with advocates for the movement before his speech. The 15-minute meeting consisted of Bush, a member of his staff, North Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Goynes-Brown, and Sean Fellows, a registered lobbyist for a communications firm, who once ran as a Republican candidate for state assembly. There were no representatives from “Black Lives Matter” although Goynes-Brown is an African-American. Maybe that’s what confused Bush. Goynes-Brown said that the meeting didn’t discuss the movement and doesn’t call herself an activist.
Vaccines: A parent asked Carly Fiorina if she would protect her fight to not vaccinate her children because of her religious beliefs and because vaccines are made using “aborted babies” (not true), Fiorina said, “When in doubt, it is always the parent’s choice.” Parent’s choice has sometimes killed children because of lack of care, but that fact wasn’t mentioned.
Pledge to not raise taxes: Grover Norquist is checking off the presidential candidates to see who will sign a pledge to never—no matter what—raise taxes. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, is the latest to fall in line behind Norquist, vowing to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.” He follows Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cruz , Rick Perry, Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson. Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee “have all previously signed the pledge in some capacity” and are expected to do so again this year. Bush said his record showed how he cut taxes every year while governor, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized the pledge in 2012 as unconstructive.
Walker gave his campaign donors $250 million of taxpayer money a new basketball arena and made the “necessary cuts” to replace the $250 million from education. Evidence shows that this will not increase jobs, despite Walker’s claims, and he may lose the Koch brothers with this stunt. Their organization, Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin, stated:
“Government shouldn’t be in the business of financing private sports stadiums. The current deal is based on fuzzy math, complicated accounting and millions of taxpayer dollars. Whether it comes from the state, the county, the city or other authority, these are taxpayer dollars.”
Immigration: A few years ago, Christie supported comprehensive immigration and boasted about his support from Garden State’s Latino community. Now he wants to “reexamine” the 14th Amendment which bestows citizenship on all people born in the United States. Paul agrees with Christie, and Graham calls the amendment “a mistake.” Ohio governor, John Kasich, has agreed with them in the past.
Fetal Tissue: On record for opposing Planned Parenthood, Ben Carson used fetal tissue while doing research in the early 1990s to better understand the development of the chambers (or “ventricles”) of the brain. One of the fetuses for the research had been aborted at “the 17th week of gestation.” Now he calls this fetus “a human being.” Carson explained, “You have to look at the intent.” He condemns “killing babies” but accepts “taking a dead specimen.” He also called abortion “the number one cause of death for black people.” As to his accusation that “abortion clinics” are in black neighborhoods, 60 percent of them were “in neighborhoods where more than half of residents are white,” according to a 2014 study. The doctor also calls the Affordable Care Act, which has greatly increased health care for black people, to slavery.
Space exploration: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) loved NASA’s successful visit to the dwarf planet Pluto in July and hoped that young people will “feel that American science, ingenuity and daring are alive and well.” He continued by talk about its importance but has voted to cut NASA funding while refuting the findings of the agency’s scientists. So much for “American innovation.” Cruz took the same position in praising space exploration but voting to defund NASA.
Totaling up approval ratings for Trump, Rubio, Bush, Walker, Fiorina, Carson and Cruz shows that 70 percent of likely GOP primary voters favor right-wing extremists. Trump isn’t the problem; the unleashed electorate trained by Fox is the crisis. Most politicians referred to as conservatives are actually radical fundamentalists.
At the same time, the only criticisms against Hillary Clinton are that she isn’t friendly enough and she kept her email private—just like many of the candidates have done.