Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Three more clowns in the car

Last week, the Republican Clown Car of presidential candidates got a little more crowded with three more clowns clambering to get in. The Republican field promises to be so crowded this year that party’s going to need a Clown Bus.

When Cara Carleton Sneed “Carly” Fiorina entered the race, the shrieks of joy from Republican pundits could practically be heard from low earth orbit. It wasn’t because she can win—she can’t, almost always polling at or near the bottom of any list her fellow clowns among the announced or probable Republican candidates. Instead, Republican pundits and operatives see her as a sort of “anti-Hillary”, as if her candidacy somehow neutralises the Republican Party’s war on women. “I got yer ‘war on women’ right here, buddy!”, they smirked.

Only trouble is, Carly is no friend of women. For example, she’s rigidly anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, including being opposed to marriage equality, and backs austere far right economic policies that would hurt everyday American families (to benefit the richest, of course).

Carly has never held elective office, though she badly lost a race for US Senator from California. Nevertheless, her fanboys swoon and declare that she’s “experienced”, which, Republicans declare, former US Senator and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not. Uh huh. Riiiiiight.

Carly’s “experience” so loved by Republican marketing mavens is that she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Do they really want to go there?! Carly’s record was a disaster, so bad, in fact, that she’s often been ranked as among the worst CEOs. In addition to nearly destroying the company, she shipped 30,000 American jobs overseas, and when asked if she had any regrets about destroying the livelihoods of so many American workers and endangering their families, Carly said she only regretted that she didn’t do it faster. That’s some big time compassion, right there!

Related: “Carly Fiorina: Falling Upwards To The White House” and “Carly Fiorina's Most Anti-Gay Comments”.

Later the same day, Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr. also climbed into the clown car. Apparently, his god acted.

Carson is a retired neurosurgeon, and while I have absolutely no way to evaluate his medical career, he’s always referred to as having been “gifted” or even “brilliant”. If that’s accurate, then it reinforces the old saying about people being good at one thing and utterly useless at another, because Ben is a total moron when it comes to politics and public policy.

Ben has a habit of saying out loud what he really thinks. That makes his teabagger fans wet themselves, but for mainstream Americans, what he says frightens them so much it makes them leak out the other end. Because, Ben has some incredibly ridiculous beliefs.

In the Internet Age, nothing ever goes away, and when a politician (real or wannabe) says stupid things, it’s easy to find, such as, “The Five Wildest Ben Carson Quotes: Prison Sex, Nazi America, Health Care Slavery And More”.

Just this past weekend, Ben couldn’t defend his loopy tax proposals, receiving strong pushback on Fox News, of all places—and everyone thinks that Fox has never met a Republican it won’t drool over! But Ben was undeterred, declaring that it was insulting to suggest that poor people wouldn’t trip all over themselves to give their money to the rich.

Ben is also rabidly anti-gay, having said some of the dumbest, most offensive and more outrageously batshit crazy things of ANY Republican presidential candidate—and he has a LOT of competition (such as the next clown to crawl into the car).

See also: “The reason Ben Carson can't win? Ben Carson.” and “Republican clown car gets a little more crowded as Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina enter the race”.

The final clown in this trio is Michael Dale "Mike" Huckabee, who announced in Hope Arkansas, the hometown he ironically shares with former President Bill Clinton.

I have so much contempt for Mike that I usually refer to him as “the Huckster” because of his delight in selling snake oil—and a “weird spice, kitchen-cabinet cure” for diabetes. My contempt is not just because Mike is dead wrong on pretty much every political and public policy issue imaginable, but because in a clown car crowded with anti-LGBT politicians, Mike is among the most bigoted.

Mike's public pronouncements against LGBT people have been truly awful, often vile, and have been among the worst because he so often says them with his best butter-wouldn’t-melt smarmy Southern Baptist cooing. Other Republican politicians express their anti-gay animus with barely concealed sneers, but Mike makes his bigotry sound almost nice. Which is what makes him so dangerous.

However, Mike is highly unlikely to last the distance. His 2008 campaign was legendary for being disorganised, and his latest version isn’t off to a great start, either (see “Mike Huckabee kicks off his 2016 bid with a violation of campaign finance law”). Even so, the large segment of the Republican base that cares about “social issues” above all others could keep funnelling enough money into his Super PAC—sorry, I meant campaign—to keep him going for a long time. All the Republican candidates, announced or expected, have pandered to the so-called “social conservative” religious base in their party, and if Mike remains in the race he’ll ensure that the pandering will pick up speed.

The ironic thing about so many self-proclaimed conservative religious candidates trying to win the Republican nomination by dumping on LGBT Americans is that a recent poll found that Americans are more comfortable with the prospect of a gay presidential candidate than an Evangelical one:
The results revealed that Americans are actually quite open to having a gay presidential candidate. Sixty-one percent said they would be either enthusiastic about or comfortable with a gay or lesbian candidate, while only 37 percent said they would have reservations or be uncomfortable.

By comparison, respondents were a little less comfortable with the prospect of a candidate who is an evangelical Christian. Fifty-two percent said they'd be enthusiastic about or comfortable with an evangelical Christian running for president, while 44 percent expressed some degree of hesitancy about the idea. (Two percent of respondents said they were not sure about a gay or lesbian candidate, while four percent were not sure about an evangelical.)
This is based on hypothetical candidates, and I feel safe in saying that if there was a good, qualified candidate for president who was gay, that candidate wouldn’t win his/her party’s nomination, much less the presidency. What people say and how they act are often very different things, especially when it comes to fully embracing LGBT people as full and equal members of society.

Nevertheless, what’s important about this—as is so often the case with polls—is the trend. It turns out that support for a hypothetical evangelical candidate has remained largely constant since the same survey was conducted in 2006, but back then “only 43 percent of Americans fully accepted the idea of a gay or lesbian presidential candidate, while 53 percent had reservations or were uncomfortable.” Times do change, and attitudes shift.

American voters have moved on, and they’ve progressed on a great many issues over the years, while all the current and expected Republican candidates have gone backward, if anything. That’s not a very hopeful reality for the aspirations of the Republican Party.

But watching Republican the clowns perform their comedy routines is at least entertaining.


rogerogreen said...

Scary but true: the Huckster is the most qualified of the three.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Exactly. In fact, of the announced clowns candidates, the Huckster is the only one with any relevant experience, though he'll eventually have some competition in that regard when some of the other governors and/or ex-governors climb aboard the Clown Bus.

rogerogreen said...

Ben Carson DOES have an impressive rags-to-riches back story: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/02/ben-carson-2016.html