Posts Tagged ‘DeSantis’

When Ambition Trumps Trust

Friday, May 24th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Nikki Haley … changing her vote

Nikki Haley … changing her vote

    A while back I wrote a column that focused on three basic rules to live by:

— If it’s not true, don’t say it.

— If it’s not yours, don’t take it.

— If it’s not right, don’t do it.

    The impetus for the column was the obvious fact that The Leader of the Republican Party and many of his followers had never heard of such rules and, in any event, felt no obligation to live by them.

      That situation hasn’t changed. But I have come up with yet another one of what I feel should be a basic rule of life: Be true to your word. The impetus, again, is questionable behavior by Republicans, one a politician, one a judge.

        I realize that trusting the words of a politician is a fool’s choice, but Nikki Haley has managed to lower the bar even further for acceptable if smarmy hypocrisy with her pronouncement that she will vote for Donald Trump for president.

      Haley waged an aggressive primary campaign against Trump for their party’s presidential nomination and, while not succeeding, had respectable results. She found there are indeed some Republicans who are not happy with Trump.

     Among the arguments she made for voting for her and not Trump: “Of course, many of the same politicians who now publicly embrace Trump privately dread him. They know what a disaster he’s been and will continue to be for our party. They’re just too afraid to say it out loud.”

    She accused Trump of being “confused,” “unhinged,” “not qualified” and “too old” to be president.

      So OK, even with her past history of flip-flops (serving as Trump’s UN ambassador and then resigning after two years; saying she would not run against him for president and then running against him for president), those are pretty strong and accurate comments she made about Trump. So why does she now say she is voting for him?

        Ambition. Political ambition, pure and simple. She can vote for whomever she wants in private, but in public she still wants some of Trump’s followers in the party to remember her four years from now when she’ll want to run for president again. 

      She’s willing to sacrifice any personal integrity she might have to preserve that hope for the future, even though she knows full well that a Trump second term in office could change the country’s political landscape drastically.

     (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who also challenged Trump unsuccessfully in the primaries, is hedging a similar bet. He tried to out- Trump Trump in the primaries, but learned that no one could do that. Now, DeSantis is raising money for Trump and waiting for 2028.)

      The other culprit in this tale of untrustworthiness is Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, he of the, not one, but two flags flying in support of Trump’s “stop the steal” campaign to undo the results of the 2020 election.

        One of the few things Americans learn in school about government and the law is that judges, especially when they are called “justices,” are supposed to be unbiased arbiters in matters that come before them in court. No sign of even a possible conflict of interest is allowed, so there is no doubt about the hearing or the ruling.

      Alito, although he probably swore to such things when he became a judge, apparently never grasped that not taking sides concept.

Samuel Alito

Samuel Alito

    After it was revealed that an American flag flew in distress position at his home, in support of the “stop the steal” campaign, Alito blamed his wife for the incident. Now, photos of a different flag signifying the same support and flying at his vacation home, have been uncovered. No word on whom he’s blaming this time.

    Of course, Alito has only himself to blame. With cases involving Trump and the 2020 election coming before the court, he has refused to recuse himself from them. This is a blatant violation of what most judges believe is their ethical duty, whether written into any code of ethics or not. 

   This Supreme Court, with its casual code of conduct to “guide” members, apparently feels they are special enough to recognize what behavior is ethical and proper for them. Clearly, some of them are not.

     People need to have confidence in the impartiality of their judges. If you are a judge and are involved in a case, or could appear to be involved (say, because your wife likes one side), you have a moral obligation to remove yourself from the case no matter what any code says. You also should have the common sense not to publicly display any statement that shows support for one side. This is basic stuff.

      Like Haley, Alito, who has also taken unreported gifts, appears to be driven by an ambitious desire to change the political landscape of the country. He’ll apparently swear to anything as long as he’s got his robe and lifetime appointment to protect him.

       Another basic life lesson: Trust must be earned and protected by regular investments. Haley and Alito are bankrupt in this regard.

rjgaydos@gmail





You Mean We Don’t Shoot Dogs?

Sunday, May 5th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Kiss your VP hopes goodbye, governor.

Kiss your VP hopes goodbye, governor.

    Poor Kristi Noem. All she wanted to do was please The Leader and spend four years by his side eagerly dismantling American democracy and maybe making a few bucks on the side. Not an unreasonable dream for a simple farm girl from South Dakota.

    Then she went and shot and killed a puppy. On purpose. For good measure, she also knocked off a goat, reloading her shotgun after initially wounding the animal, which apparently had the annoying habit of acting like, well, a goat.

      And of course, to make sure the world, and especially Donald Trump, knew that she was a no-nonsense woman and politician who could handle difficult situations, such as might be delegated to a vice president, she wrote about it in a memoir.

     When the manuscript of the not-yet published book was leaked, to Noem’s surprise, the world was pretty much shocked that someone would kill a puppy because she couldn’t train him and not simply give him to someone else who could.

      Worse for Noem, The Leader, learning of the shooting, book, etc., reportedly was disgusted and said, “Why would she do that?” Meaning, write all about it. In true Trump fashion, he observed that the South Dakota governor obviously has a poor sense of “public relations.”

       In her attempt to out-Trump Trump, she actually bragged about her evil side. Perhaps she hadn’t been paying attention to the trials, the lies, the stream of victimhood pouring from Trump’s mouth daily. Do it, yes. Then deny, deny, deny. It’s on tape? Deny. Fake news. There were witnesses? Deny. 

        Kill a puppy? It would have to have been viciously attacking, at your throat, no choice but to defend yourself. He killed a chicken? Umm … have Michael Cohen kill the story. Get a non-disclosure agreement from the farmer.

     Noem also admitted to one slight “error” in her memoir — she never actually met North Korea President Kim Jung Il in her wanderings. Somehow he wound up on a list of political figures with whom she had, um, some kind of personal connection. Vice presidential bona fides.

     Noem’s bloodthirsty naked ambition is yet another example of the depths of desperate ignorance and immorality to which much of today’s Republican Party has succumbed. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also ran afoul of the out-Trump Trump strategy in his brief, unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, especially by being tough on the issue of abortion. Can’t be done. Trump both criticized DeSantis’ strict policies and took credit for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

    If anything positive emerged from Noem’s dog story, it showed that there were actually still some in her party with a heart. No one, even Republicans, seemed to like the thought of shooting a perhaps difficult dog rather than re-homing him to someone who would train and love him.

      Now, immigrants seeking asylum by crossing the border with Mexico, or students demonstrating on college campuses are still different stories. We might need the Army or National Guard to, you know, protect us.

       Anyway, after the dog story went viral, Noem was disinvited from a big Republican Party event and removed from any Trump vice presidential running mate list, if one exists.

     Maybe she can chalk this political misstep up to being from South Dakota, which is in the middle of nowhere and has fewer than a million residents and only three votes in the outdated Electoral College.

      I’ve heard rumors that there are so few people in South Dakota who are politically inclined that the residents take turns at being governor and Noem got the job because the guy ahead of her moved to Florida to sell t-shirts with a “100 percent genuine” photo of Trump and Kim embracing in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Now that sounds like a good political move for a Republican.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Streaming Indictments with Jack Smith

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Special Counsel Jack Smith.

  The first season of Jack Smith saves democracy finally started steaming into our consciousness in Washington, D.C., this week as the special counsel (1.) leveled three federal counts against Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a coup, in effect, to which the now thrice-indicted defendant’s lawyers (2.) kept arguing that free speech gave Trump the right to lie about losing the election, which Smith never denied or charged him with and which (3.) former Vice President Mike Pence suddenly realized he always had a right to when he said (out loud and in public) that Trump asked him to reject the votes of the legitimate electors on Jan. 6, which apparently (4.) prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 has been a disaster, to also forget the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil GOP mantra and say, “Of course he lost the election,” when asked about Trump and 2020, even as (5.) other Republicans stuck to the script and plotted with the “conservative” Heritage Foundation to devise a “battle plan” for the first 180 days of a Republican presidency in 2025, including a strategy that would negate current efforts to slow global warming by eliminating regulations to curb greenhouse gas pollution from cars, oil and gas wells and power plants, dismantling most clean energy programs in the federal government and increasing the production of fossil fuels, even as (6.) the planet suffers through the hottest year on record, which, no one is admitting but seems at least plausible, (7.) could have contributed to flight controllers at NASA’s Cape Canaveral losing track of the Voyager 2 spacecraft for several weeks because they were, in effect, looking in the wrong place, which (8.) is what President Biden told Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who has been lobbying to move the new Space Force headquarters from Colorado, where the Air Force Academy is located and recreational pot is legal, to Alabama, where anything Republicans don’t like (abortion, LGBTQ rights, voting rights …) is illegal or tough to come by, when Biden rejected an order by Trump, who created the new military force, to locate it in Alabama, thereby also (9.) sending Tuberville a nasty message for his one-man crusade of putting a hold on hundreds of top Defense Department promotions, which has resulted for the first time in (10.)the Marines and Army both operating with acting commanders and the Joint Chiefs being short-changed, all because (11.) one man objects to a Pentagon plan to provide transportation to service members needing to go to another state for an abortion, a sensible plan in the same vein as (12.) a new Pentagon policy that places control over military sexual assault cases in the hands of a team of independent prosecutors, rather than base commanders, thereby eliminating coverups and favoritism, a policy which came in response to numerous complaints from female service members which led to (13.) legislation creating the new policy, which was spearheaded by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and which Biden signed into law, displaying a concern for the health and well-being of Americans in uniform that (14.) was seriously lacking in the case of Anthony Rizzo, who gets paid millions of dollars to put on the uniform for the New York Yankees, and was apparently allowed to play (poorly as it turned out) for two months while suffering from post-concussive syndrome and also sharing a locker room with Domingo German, who (15.), only four weeks after pitching a perfect game, proceeded to trash the Yankee clubhouse, fight with teammates, get suspended for the season and sent to alcohol rehab, which (16.) gives a whole new level of meaning to the concept of functioning alcoholic and is topped for a New York headline only by (17.) the crosstown Mets trading away Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, their two aging super aces, whom they’re paying tens of millions of dollars to apparently try to win the pennant for two different teams in Texas, (18.) and that’s why reading the sports pages first thing in the morning isn’t as much fun as it used to be, aside from the fact (19.) in the current stream of things, you can’t find them anymore, but then, (20.) there’s always Jack Smith, Season 1, episode 1.

      Binge.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Trump and GOP: A Tiring, Old Story

Friday, June 16th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Special Counsel Jack Smith meets the press.

Special Counsel Jack Smith meets the press.

   It’s not exactly writer’s block. More like writer’s fatigue. It’s what happens, to me at least, when there’s really only one story to tell and I’ve told it from every possible angle, for, oh, about seven years now.

     That would be the transformation of the Republican Party by Donald Trump from a responsible, conservative partner in the nation’s two-party system, a party once dedicated to the rule of law and respect for the traditions on which our democratic republic was founded, into a race-baiting, power-hungry, intolerant, lying, bullying collection of ignorant bigots and cowardly hypocrites. I think that covers it.

    But how many times can you say that? It’s what’s happened and is still happening and neither a federal indictment of Trump in Florida for hoarding classified government documents after he left the White House nor a conviction and $5 million fine in New York for sexually assaulting a reporter in a changing room at Bergdorf Goodman and then defaming her has changed the basic story.

     Most Republicans, even some who are competing with him for the party’s presidential nomination, still refuse to condemn his behaviors. They refuse to say he is unfit to hold any public office, much less the highest office in the land. Some actually agree with Trump’s methods. Others don’t, but they also don’t want to roil what they still think is the party’s base of cult-like followers loyal only to Trump. Fear and loathing 2023.

      It’s a self-inflicted situation for the GOP. But there, I’ve said it again.

      These are perilous times for our democracy. I fear far too many Americans still don’t grasp that. Trump and his lackeys have threatened our very foundation — a nation where all men and women are created equal and all — regardless of status — are treated equally under the law.

   Jack Smith, Chris Christie, Chris Sununu. They get it. Smith, of course, is the no-nonsense special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Trump’s refusal to return classified government documents and his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

     My favorite Smith moment, in fact the only Smith moment thus far, was his brusk reading of a brief explanation of the documents indictment and then walking off the stage as the media shouted questions at him. It’s all there in the indictment, folks, see you in court.

      Christie is the somewhat disgraced former New Jersey governor who has entered the primary race for the GOP presidential nomination with what appears to be the sole purpose of telling the truth about Trump every chance he gets as bluntly as he can. As a New Jersey native, I can tell you that can be pretty blunt and he will not back down.

       And Sununu is a respected Republican governor of New Hampshire who has decided not to run for president, but to also point out, in a New England way, how morally, intellectually and politically unfit Trump is for the job.

       So, good for them. And good for us.

       But the Republican Party still offers the likes of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is out to prove he can be worse than Trump, and former Vice President Mike Pence, who saw the noose waiting for him on Jan. 6, brought by Trump’s army, but still can’t find the courage to tell the whole truth about his former boss.

      I always try to be optimistic, but there’s another presidential campaign looming and, as I said, I’ve told this story before. On October 20, 2016, with an election looming, I wrote: “Republicans, Trump is not one of you. He is Trump. Period. You created him. Your hypocrisy and cowardice have emboldened him and his ilk. He has sullied us all. And he has destroyed you.”

     Here’s to Jack Smith, Chris Christie and Chris Sununu.  It’s time for a new plot line, folks.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

       

2024: Neither Trump nor Biden, Please

Friday, November 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

  91E29BA5-E946-48C8-A9D2-5FFC851BB1FF  Never again, Donald Trump.

    Thank you for your decades of service to the country, but please not again, President Biden.

    Yes, in large part because of Trump’s constant need for attention, we’re talking about the 2024 presidential election already. 

     The ex-president could barely wait for the final 2022 midterm election results (which were disastrous for the out-of-office Republican Party over much of which he still commands significant influence) before announcing his candidacy for the 2024 presidential campaign.

    I guess he figures it’s either that or answer a subpoena. Or two.

    Unfortunately for Trump, except for diehard MagaLomaniacs, the bloom is off the rose for him with many Republicans, including some currently holding elected office. And, he may have to answer those subpoenas even if he is an official candidate for president.

     Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to clear the air on the subpoena front by appointing a special counsel to investigate Trump’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection, his attempts at election tampering in the 2022 election and the possession of classified documents once out of office at his home in Florida.

   The counsel, a career prosecutor and lifetime registered independent voter, is a way to separate the Biden White House and Democrats from the ongoing investigation into Trump’s activities at a time when he is a declared candidate for president. It’s a welcome step.

     Whether the appointment of the counsel clears the air for the Republican Party is another matter. Having started decades ago down the road to gaining power at any cost, the party is now paying the price for looking the other way and holding its collective nose while registering any bigoted, racist, narrow-minded American who promised to vote for any Republican who fed their fears while doing little to deal with their actual problems.

     Sacrificing policy for scare tactics and voter suppression, the party gained power with Trump’s election in 2016. Never underestimate the American voter’s appetite for shock and awe over substance. But, having no actual platform save for giving wealthy people a tax break and being handcuffed to a self-serving leader who valued loyalty over competence, the party could not sustain its grip on Washington.

    Trump’s utter lack of understanding of the role of president and the failure of most Republicans to criticize him for his pathological lying and inflammatory rhetoric, among other things, finally registered on a significant majority of Americans. He lost to Biden in 2020, a result he refuses to accept, and most of his election-denying sycophants lost in state elections this month. And Democrats held on to the Senate. Some prominent Republicans are finally summoning up the courage to criticize him. Or, to be accurate, to say he may not be good for the future of the party and, thus, their political careers.

      Which leaves us with some potential Republican presidential candidates who want to prove they can out-Trump Trump (notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) and some who apparently hope voters won’t notice their complicity in quietly looking the other way while Trump was in the White House (notably former Vice President Mike Pence).

      It may be a knives-and-daggers battle among Republicans for the nomination, but there’s no way they can offer Trump as their candidate again without giving up their last chance of rescuing their party from the pit of shame into which he has dragged it.

      So what about the Democrats? They have a different problem. Biden will be 82 in 2024. (By the way, Trump will be a not so youthful 78.) Running a country is not an old man’s game except in kingdoms and dictatorships. While Biden has brought competence and dignity back to the office of president and demonstrated that the government can indeed address the needs of all the people, the daily stress of the job could well affect his performance of his duties. Indeed, campaigning for the presidency against a new, younger, bomb-throwing Republican candidate could prove to be challenging.

     More importantly, Democrats need a younger, newer, more forceful face for 2024. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, made that clear in announcing she would not be a candidate for House Minority Leader in the next Congress.

    The problem is, there aren’t many Democrats around who are well-known by a majority of Americans. Vice President Kamala Harris is an obvious candidate for the nomination, should Biden choose not to run. But she has been remarkably quiet in her two years as next-in-line for the presidency. That’s a contrast with her often outspoken, forceful demeanor in the Senate. A little more of that Harris would serve her and her party well.

     California Gov. Gavin Newsom is said to have his eyes on the White House and he has some national recognition. There’s also Labor Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would bring a great deal of energy to a campaign.

     Of course, the best-known and one of the most popular political figures who would make a formidable presidential candidate is Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House Select January 6 committee. But Cheney,  a Republican who has been blunt in her criticism of Trump with regards to his claims about the 2020 election being stolen and for his involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, lost her seat in still strongly pro-Trump South Dakota. Right now, she’s a potential candidate without a party.

   Of course, a lot can happen in two years. But the 2024 presidential campaign simply cannot be a rerun of 2020. America needs to move on.

 rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Liz Cheney for President? Yes, but How?

Sunday, August 7th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney

  Liz Cheney for president.

      What?

      Too soon?

      You got a better candidate?

       Republicans don’t.

       Neither do Democrats.

       Really, it’s a no-brainer.

       All she needs is a party.

       … All she needs is a party.

        Americans claim to like leaders with the courage of their convictions and the guts to speak honestly, regardless of the personal political consequences. Occasionally, such a person actually appears. 

        Liz Cheney. In today’s Republican Party, populated by cowards, racists, liars and hypocrites, Cheney is an outcast. A pariah. As vice chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, she has been the most eloquent, plain-spoken, messenger of the truth about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to attempt a coup. On live television.

        Cheney’s outspokenness has led to her ouster from the House Republican leadership, a censure by the Republican National Committee and a decision by her home state Wyoming Republican Party to no longer recognize her as a member. It has also earned her millions of fans among Democrats, independent voters and even a few quiet Republicans.

      So, Liz Cheney for president. Why not? She has the political bloodline, for starters. In fact, one doesn’t have to work hard to note the straightforward, assured and occasionally wry manner of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in her political speech. She’s grown up in politics and has learned a lot along the way, most notably, about the need to preserve democracy and defend it against those, like Trump and his allies, who would pervert it to their own benefit, or simply destroy it.

       Cheney’s opening remarks for the committee’s hearings should be required reading for every American who claims to be a patriot:

       “We cannot leave the violence of January 6th – and its causes – uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House – every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system. We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another January 6th every four years.”

          She gets it. In fact, so do thousands of other Republican officials. But she is one of the few who has had the guts to state it publicly, repeatedly, and, in the process, put her political career in jeopardy.

          At least in Wyoming.

          It’s doubtful that she will be re-elected as the state’s lone member of Congress, given the exorcism of her by the state’s Republican Party. Most political analysts doubt that even a hard-hitting campaign ad by her father will help her win the party’s primary next week. Wyoming is solid red Republican, which means do or die with Trump. Dick Cheney’s campaign ad said, in part, “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.” He called Trump “a coward.”

     You have to admire the Cheneys’ loyalty to each other and to their country. But it’s their political party that has betrayed them and others who once espoused a conservative but genuine loyalty to America’s stated ideals, including that no man or woman is above the law.

      To that point, Cheney has been consistently clear during the hearings. “As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American,” Cheney said. “Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices …”

      As to those proclaiming he simply didn’t know any better, she said, “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.”

     Even Cheney’s congressional  re-election committee, while no doubt frustrated by the actions of Wyoming Republican leaders, is aware of the profoundly positive reaction to her courageous stand among millions of Americans who have not swallowed the Trump Kool-Aid.

    As one of her state campaign team members said, “The fringe right and the fringe left all hate her. But you’ve got this overwhelming, massive majority of people in the center who believe that what she’s doing is the right thing. Frankly, it’s the type of person that we need in the White House.”

   Yes it is. 

    So, how does she get there? Cheney hasn’t talked publicly about a possible presidential run, but she has already raised a sizable war chest, much of which is not being spent on her primary campaign. She reportedly doesn’t spend much time with her Republican colleagues in Washington anymore, some of whom have expressed admiration for her courage, but apparently lack any of their own.

     It’s hard to imagine a Republican Party cleansed of any Trump influence by 2024. Even if Trump is not the candidate, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and other Trump wannabes are already looking to take his place. That makes it harder even to imagine a Cheney presidential campaign as a Republican. Third party candidates historically have been successful only as vote stealers from one of the two major party candidates.

     So that leaves the Democrats. 

     Joe Biden was needed in 2020 to save America from Trump, and deserves thanks for that, but a much more dynamic, younger leader is needed in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris has made no impact as a leader and there is no obvious top candidate waiting in the wings. Democrats desperately want to win in 2024. America needs them to win to help erase the Trump stain on the republic.

       It seems to me that a Cheney switch to the Democratic Party, despite significant policy differences, is more likely to happen than a sudden change in Republican philosophy. There are conservative Democrats and Cheney did recently support a Democratic gun control bill in the House.

      Does any of this seem politically possible or even realistic? Well, consider that we as a nation have never been in this situation before. History is being written. History also tells us that Americans admire and vote for those seen as decisive in difficult situations. Of the 46 presidents, 12 were generals. They were: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, William H. Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Col. Teddy Roosevelt famously led the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy was admired and decorated for his heroic actions as commander of PT109 in World War II. Men hardened and shaped as patriots by their leadership in battle.

      If Liz Cheney can succeed in her battle to make Trump accountable for attempting to overthrow a legitimate president, to preserve democracy, she will have written her name into history books. She will also have gained the thanks and votes of millions of Americans, political party registration notwithstanding. It will be one hell of a campaign message.

       Let’s hear from Cheney one more time:

       “I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But, in the end, we are one nation under God. The Framers of our Constitution recognized the danger of the vicious factionalism of partisan politics – and they knew that our daily arguments could become so fierce that we might lose track of our most important obligation – to defend the rule of law and the freedom of all Americans. That is why our Framers compelled each of us to swear a solemn oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. When a threat to our constitutional order arises, as it has here, we are obligated to rise above politics.”

      Liz Cheney for president.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

All the GOP’s “dumb” governors

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

South Dakota's Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

  “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids. That’s what the data shows from around the country.”

  With that absurd, ungrammatical and easily refuted statement to the press, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts last week boldly entered the competition for “dumbest” Republican governor in America. It’s turning into quite a contest in a steadily growing field. And, while I may be mocking this collection of nitwits, let me be clear in stating that this is no laughing matter.

    Let’s start with Ricketts. He is vigorously fighting an effort to legalize medical marijuana in his state. That’s right, they’re not even talking about recreational marijuana in Nebraska, just catching up with the 39 states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. 

     But killing kids? The Drug Enforcement Agency says “no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.” Ever. As for its classification as a Schedule 1 Drug by the DEA — meaning it supposedly has no medicinal value — that was a product of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, passed by Congress as part of Richard Nixon’s racist campaign to demonize and nullify black voters. Fifty years later, and in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary, Republicans are still trying.

        There’s no real race issue in white bread Nebraska, so this is likely just one more Republican politician playing to the lowest common denominator — the proudly uninformed who make up much of the party’s base. The Trump voters. The governor also threw in the false claim that marijuana serves as a gateway drug for teenagers to other drugs. The Centers for Disease Control says there is no evidence of this. In truth, alcohol has long been the gateway drug for young people. Yes, there are risks, especially for young people, in using marijuana, but Ricketts could have stressed common sense approaches to its use rather than making up scare stories. Unfortunately, Nebraskans suffering pain from a variety of illnesses would be deprived of the relief medical cannabis can provide if he has his way.

         At least Nebraskans still have a chance to escape the consequences of having a “dumb” governor. Others, Texans, for example, have already paid a steep price. On March 2, with most of the nation, including Texas, in the early stage of receiving Covid-19 vaccinations, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. When the mayor of Austin, the state capital, said the masks would stay on in his city, Abbott went to court to challenge this affront to his authority to put Texans at risk.

          This mandate came on the heels of the deadly deep freeze in the Lone Star State. When the state’s independent power grid failed during a winter storm in February, with Texans literally freezing to death, Abbott went on Fox News to say, “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for America.” Abbott said solar and wind power got “shut down,” while noting that those sources account for only 10 percent of the state’s energy.

          The truth: natural gas lines, which provide the largest percent of Texas’s power, froze up as well because anti-regulation Texas didn’t require companies to winterize. So, yes, almost all power sources froze up. A few windmills did keep producing. Also the truth: Texas refuses to join national power grids for protection against blackouts because Republican officials don’t want federal oversight. Neither do power companies who support them financially.

          Of course “dumb” governors are not new in Texas. In the midst of the blackout, with Texans looking for food and shelter and just trying to stay alive, former governor Rick Perry said Texans would rather deal with blackouts than have the federal government regulate their power grid. Perry, of course, was Energy Secretary in the Trump Administration.

           To top it all off, when the Texas lieutenant governor tried to roll back $16 billion in exorbitant power bills sent to residents, Abbott disagreed. Said he didn’t have the authority. But he can order people not to wear masks. As of March 17, Texas was still averaging 173 Covid deaths a day.

          Abbott has had serious competition on ignoring health experts in responding to the virus from other Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who answered the question of whether anyone could be more obnoxious than Rick Perry with a resounding yes. In fact, anti-mask, open-up DeSantis, with an eye on the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has made his anti-science, anti-press approach the hallmark of his public utterances, again echoing the success of Trump with a core group of Republican voters.

          The same can be said of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has taken her campaign on the road and likes to come across as a wise-cracking cowgirl (where are you, Sarah Palin?) and has said from the beginning that South Dakotans don’t need any masks or social distancing and was disappointed when she couldn’t have a big fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. All this as Europe is seeing a resurgence of the virus.

         There are more candidates, but you get the idea. The real question, of course, is whether these politicians are truly dumb, or just playing a cynical role that makes them sound dumb to a majority of Americans, but enhances their reputation with the core group of Republicans who vote for them, often against their own self-interest. The willfully dumb.

          Given the prevalence of this in-your-face obnoxious ignorance, real or feigned, among Republican members of Congress (too many to name here), I have to think this is just further evidence of the disintegration of the Republican Party as a serious, principled participant in the governing of this nation. And that is a serious loss.

         Today, for GOP governors and other elected Republican officials, no platform is necessary. Atttack science. Deny history. Ridicule education. Blame “others.” Demonize the press. If people suffer, if they die, well those are the breaks. Make it all up as you go along. It will get you elected. Hey, it worked for Trump, didn’t it?

         Yes. Once. And if it happens again, we’ll have only our dumb selves to blame.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.