All those Republican Candidates - can they be taken seriously?
The American public likes to be entertained and this is the time of the year, thanks to the presidential hopefuls, when they are getting more than their share of entertainment. Just watch the Republican debates on the TV, or listen to their silly talks on the radio, or read their comments or views on a plethora of issues, you are sure to get plenty of entertainment. Sometimes they appear too stupid and vague to be taken seriously for such a lofty position. Consider, for instance, Herman Cain, the black Republican candidate. On his recent campaign stop in Miami, Cain took some time to try some Latino cuisine, and offend a few Latinos along the way. After biting into a croqueta at Miami's famed Versailles Cafe, Cain asks, "How do you say delicious in Cuban?" Cuban, as many know, is not a language. In Spanish, however, delicious is delicioso.
Sometimes these presidential candidates are stumbling and mumbling Jacks like any other Joe, Dick and Harry. Sometimes they are full of hypocrisy and hyperbole.
Mindful of the low favorable rating for the current Congress (9%) among the American voters, all of these Republican candidates would have us believe that they are outsiders to politics at the Capitol Hill and, if elected to the highest position, would reduce the national debt by shutting down huge parts of the government. None of them, outside Ron Paul, of course, wants to reduce the size of the ever-expanding Department of Homeland Security, let alone the Department of Defense. That would make them appear unpatriotic! Rick Perry wants to close two or possibly three departments; Michele Bachmann would close the E.P.A. and repeal its regulations; and Matt Romney would scrap a health care system virtually identical to the one he created in Massachusetts. But the worst of these candidates - the most deceptive of the bunch -- is Newt Gingrich who epitomizes hypocrisy. He is an immoral and unscrupulous person who pretends to be the elderly Republican statesman with 'brains'. He has benefited lavishly from the very spendthrift cronyism that he attacks.
In recent months Gingrich has been harshly critical of those who have worked with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. For instance, in an October debate of the Republican presidential candidates, he suggested that Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) should be jailed for his association with "a lobbyist who was close to Freddie Mac." Interestingly, for roughly six years, Newt Gingrich worked closely with high-level officials at the government-sponsored mortgage company Freddie Mac. As a highly paid consultant, he coached them on how to win over the conservative politicians, who consider their company an anathema, spoke to their political action committee and offered general advice as they worked to stave off various threats to Freddie Mac's survival. As recently reported in the Bloomberg News he earned $1.6 million to $1.8 million, in an on-and-off relationship from 1999 to 2008, with the mortgage company that has since been taken over by the federal government. The payments were far more than had previously been known, or previously acknowledged by Gingrich.
When Gingrich was questioned, he tried to play down the report, saying that he did not know exactly how much he was paid, and that Freddie Mac was but one company that enlisted his firm, the Gingrich Group. When asked about a $300,000-per-year, two-year contract in 2006 and 2007, Mr. Gingrich said he had acted as an "historian." The real reason he was hired, as company officials make clear, was to act as a liaison to conservatives on Capitol Hill. "Freddie wasn't spending $25,000 to $35,000 a month for years to have somebody give them history lessons on what would have happened in 1945 if Japan had won," one former official said.
It is very typical of Newt Gingrich to pretend that he despises lobbying groups whom he calls "the Washington culture of consultants" while simultaneously enriching himself by trading on his influence in Washington. As a matter of fact, he has been one of its better-paid members. Last Friday, The Washington Post reported that one of his think tanks collected $37 million over the last eight years from health care companies and insurers that wanted to be close to a prominent Republican.
In recent weeks the Republican candidates are giving us some ideas as to where they stand on a plethora of issues. In an interview on November 13 with 'Meet the Press' David Gregory, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) repeated her claim that the Iraq should pay America for the 'privilege' of having their nation invaded and occupied for most of the last decade - and then doubled down by calling for Iraq to pay millions of dollars for each American killed in that country. She said: "It's over 800 billion dollars that we have expended [in Iraq]. I believe that Iraq should pay us back for the money that we spent, and I believe that Iraq should pay the families that lost a loved one several million dollars per life, I think at minimum."
Has Bachmann lost her mind? Is she aware that Iraq did not ask to be invaded by the United States, and that the Iraqi people have wanted American forces out of their country for a very long time. Estimates on the number of Iraqi civilian casualties due to our presence in Iraq vary depending on who is counting. According to local Iraqis, the total death is in excess of one million. Whatever the number is there is little question that tens of thousands more Iraqis would still be alive today if not for Bush's criminal decision to invade their country.
So who should compensate whom? As noted by many commentators, Bachmann is a sick old lady behaving like a hawk knowing that she has no chance of becoming the frontrunner within the conservative Republican voters. It is all about trying to become relevant again in the poll. Funny that she talks about compensation for the death of American soldiers while suffering from a selective amnesia about the Iraqi victims! How about the death of those one million Iraqis? What would be a fair price for the USA to pay the family members of those unarmed Iraqi civilian victims killed in the war?
The USA, if Bachmann wants to be fair, using her formula, will have to pay 200 times the sum that she is demanding of Iraq. How about paying $160 trillion to Iraq to compensate for killing its 1 million plus civilians? Is Bachmann willing to write that check for the USA? If not, she should shut up!
With two prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American economy is in the ruins. But don't tell this to these Republican presidential hopefuls. Outside Ron Paul and John Huntsman, Jr., they all want to engage the economically-weak nation into yet another war - this time with Iran.
We thought that our politicians had learned something worthy from what went wrong with Bush Jr.'s presidency - the war crimes, the tortures, the abuses and the culture of deception, which put the entire nation look so bad in the eyes of people of the rest of the world. Each of these amnesic and brain-dead Republican politicians, minus Ron Paul and John Huntsman, are trying to prove that they have learned very little from the moral calamities of the administration of George W. Bush.
In a recent TV debate in South Carolina, Herman Cain (a sexual pervert who as executive of a pizza chain was accused of groping women) and Michele Bachmann said they would approve water-boarding of prisoners to extract information. When probed, they denied, of course, that water-boarding is torture, even though it has been classified as such since the Spanish Inquisition. On the other hand, Representative Ron Paul, probably the best of the bunch, said water-boarding is not only torture, it is illegal, immoral, uncivilized and has no practical advantages. Former Governor and diplomat Jon Huntsman Jr. eloquently pointed out that water-boarding and other forms of torture diminish the nation's standing in the world.
It is worth noting here that Senator John McCain who ran against Obama in 2008, and himself a victim of torture as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, and surely a real moral authority on the issue, has always maintained that "Water-boarding is torture." But none of their prudent comments are going to put a damper on the sick minds of his party candidates. Outside Ron Paul and John Huntsman Jr., and of course Cain and Bachmann, the rest don't seem to have the backbone to even voice an opinion on the subject. They are unaware that water-boarding is banned by the United States Army Field Manual. They also chooses to ignore the testimony of top military officers like General David Petraeus (who now runs the C.I.A.) that such forms of torture are not only useless for gathering reliable intelligence but are detrimental to the security of American forces and the nation's reputation.
Mitt Romney is a great disappointment in Republican politics. He has no moral compass, and appears and sounds more like a short-sighted career politician than a serious statesman ready to lead a nation. Recently, he claimed that if he were elected president Iran will not have a nuclear weapon, and that if Obama were reelected Iran will have one. He wants to drop bomb on Iran and/or encourage Israel, the rogue state, to do the ultimate crime that would surely trigger a massive war in the entire region. He forgets that Iran is not either Afghanistan or Iraq. Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, approves clandestine missions to kill Iranian scientists.
As empty as Mr. Romney's remarks were about Iran, his refusal to renounce water-boarding is disturbing, and inexcusable. People deserve better from presidential candidates, and not some theatrics and idiotic behavior.
Funny that these warmongers and morally bankrupt politicians talk about American exceptionalism! Is water-boarding a symbol of American exceptionalism and is it going to raise our moral standing in the world? Is it a value that we can all cherish and export? If these rogue politicians believe that their arrogance, irrational behavior and stupidity are the traits of American exceptionalism then we are better off without them. They deserve themselves and not us.
Dr Habib Siddiqui has authored 10 books. His latest book - Devotional Stories - is now available from A.S. Noordeen, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Topics: Economy, Elections, Government And Politics Channel: Opinion
Ron Paul while he has some good ideas, would essentially eliminate most government functions and turn them over to the private sector. I believe we are in an era of extreme ignorance. America has no leadership and the American people are steeped in misinformation and 'sound bites', unable to think and analyze critically. The general excuse is that we are too busy to think, so we leave our thinking in the hands of Fox News or CNN. Our leaders are ultimately a reflection of us.
America , vote for Ron Paul