Presidential Politics: Georgia Edition

With the Iowa Caucuses coming up soon1 there’s all sorts of fun going on in the Republican political arena. Mitt is being bulldozed by Palin and Donald “the hair” Trump decided he’s not running for president on a birther platform (or any other). Michelle Bachman of Minnesota is trying to reduce her previous crazy-as-a-bedbug reputation and her Governor is pursuing an agenda of “who the hell is Tim Pawlenty anyhow?” Mike Huckabee came out saying “I’m too Baptist to run for president”2, and let’s not forget Ron Paul (“Republicans for No Public Infrastructure!”) and Rick Santorum, the anti-intellectual and homophobic creationist who is running on the strength of garnering 41% of the vote for his incumbent senate seat in 2006.

But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to talk about Georgia. Notably, two candidates who are from Georgia: Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.

Newt is the one everyone has probably heard of. Speaker of the House during the Republican majority of 1995-1999; author of several histories; husband of several wives; I am a resident of the district he used to represent. This is a distinction of almost zero value nowadays. Why? That’s an interesting question, actually. The best explanation is to say that Newt isn’t a Georgia politician anymore. No one around here seems to give a crap about him. He’s regarded as a Washington insider, not as a Georgia resident. It probably does not help that his official residence has been in Virginia for 12 years. No, no one around here seems to care about Newt.

I place Newt’s chances of succeeding during the primary season as small. My contention is that he’s both too crazy, but not crazy enough to appeal to the Republican party. If people are looking for Crazy come voting time, they’ll pick Sarah Palin, or Michelle Bachman, or Herman Cain. If they’re looking for Not-Crazy, they’ll pick Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty. In neither of these scenarios is Newt going to do well. He’s an intellectual in an extremely anti-intellectual party; he’s a hypocritical born-again catholic3 who will not make a good case with the family values crowd. On top of that, he’s just not good at speaking to his base. Good luck, Newt, I think you’d better milk your time between now and the primaries for all it’s worth.

Then there’s Herman Cain. I confess that I don’t know much about Herman Cain beyond that he is a former CEO and owner of Godfather’s Pizza. However, his public statements have firmly ensconsed him in the “crazy” category. According to him, there is a vast Muslim conspiracy to get Sharia law into all aspects of American life. His latest quotes:

TP: Mr. Cain, you recently came under fire for your comments about the kind of people you would appoint to your cabinet. Would you be opposed to appointing an openly gay but qualified person to be in your cabinet?

Cain: Nope, not at all. I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. I just want people – I want them qualified, I want them to basically believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. So yep, I don’t have a problem with appointing an openly gay person. Because they’re not going to try to put sharia law in our laws.

I understand the tactic of “viewing with alarm” in order to generate a problem so that you can say you have a solution. It’s also called the strawman argument and anyone with any sense of debate tactics and rhetoric will instantly recognize it for the bullshit it is. This generally isn’t a big problem because, unfortunately, it is a major part of our political discourse. The reason why this particular opinion of Herman’s is a big problem is because he’s advocating and continuing the unlawful and unethical persecution of our American Muslim minority.

Herman first appeared on my “do not like” radar a little while back with this particular brand of hypocrisy:

The role of Muslims in American society is for them to be allowed to practice their religion freely, which is part of our First Amendment. The role of Muslims in America is not to convert the rest of us to the Muslim religion. That I resent. Because we are a Judeo-Christian nation, from the fact that 85 percent of us are self-described Christians, or evangelicals, or practicing the Jewish faith. Eighty-five percent. One percent of the practicing religious believers in this country are Muslim.

And so I push back and reject them trying to convert the rest of us. And based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them. Now, I know that there are some peaceful Muslims who don’t go around preaching or practicing that. Well, unfortunately, we can‘t sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don’t believe in that aspect of the Muslim religion. So their role is to be allowed to practice their religion freely, just like we should be allowed to practice our religion freely, and not try to convert the rest of us.

In that link, I had called attention to the following two opposed issues: “The role of Muslims in America is not to convert the rest of us to the Muslim religion.” and “…85 percent of us are self-described Christians, or evangelicals,…”. I can’t help but think that Mr. Cain didn’t listen during his school days when they taught that evangelicals are specifically supposed to promulgate the christian faith to the unconverted4.

However, let’s examine a couple other statements in that quote above:

  • Obvious: Most Jews I’m aware of would be rather miffed to be lumped in with the self-described christians and evangelicals.
  • A point for rhetoricians: Don’t start by saying how little you know before making a statement about that knowledge. “…and based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.”
  • Synonymous: Let’s take this quote, “Now, I know that there are some peaceful Muslims who don’t go around preaching or practicing that. Well, unfortunately, we can‘t sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don’t believe in that aspect of the Muslim religion,” and substitute “Christian” for “Muslim” and think about the Westboro Baptist Church and Harold Camping with Family Radio. I’m seeing petards in your future, oh Mr. Cain.

Whatever his economic and other positions are, Herman Cain has identified himself with racists and bigots and homophobes and other people who do not like the Other. Please don’t vote for this guy if he shows up in your primaries.

Who will I vote for? Well, last election I voted for Obama, but I will vote in the Republic Primary when it comes around to ensure that if someone does beat Obaman, it’s someone who’s not batshit insane. I doubt my contribution will have much effect (this is Georgia after all and we love our christian conservatives) but I’ll do my part.

  1. for the political definition of “soon” []
  2. which may be code for “snowball’s chance and I don’t want to give up my Fox News salary” []
  3. oxymoron, I know []
  4. “unconverted” = “unsaved” = “anyone not my particular sect of christianity” in my experience with evangelical christians []
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