Conservative Kookiness in Iowa

Scott Walker serves up some red meat

Scott Walker serves up some red meat

W.J. Astore

OK.  I should know better.  When you pay attention to what conservatives are saying at the Iowa Freedom Forum, attended as it is by religious activists, you’re going to hear kookiness and craziness.  But what’s sad is how the “red meat” issues raised by the likes of Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Rick Santorum are so devoid of nutritional value.  Empty calories, all of it.

You hear the usual talk about lower taxes and less governmental regulation, even though Republicans under Reagan and the Bushes (along with the Democrats as well) oversaw expansions in government.  George H.W. Bush famously said, “Read my lips — no new taxes,” before proceeding to raise taxes once he became president.  Along with lower taxes and smaller government, Republicans also claim to support “family values,” a vapid phrase that basically means whatever you want to read into it.  I’m not a fan of Obama’s priorities and policies, but one thing I can say for the man is that his life, his wife, and his teenage girls have exuded family values, Thanksgiving controversy or no.

So we know Republicans are supposedly for lower taxes, smaller government, and family values.  What else are they for? Abortion, of course, as in restricting it further or even eliminating it.  Voter ID laws, because we all know how the “wrong” kind of people are being bussed in en masse to skew voting results in favor of socialism (talk about an urban myth!).  And more gun rights, like open carry laws and easier approval for concealed permits to carry.

Egads!  These are the issues that sway the activist base of the Republican Party?  Fetuses, the specter of more disadvantaged people of color voting, and guns.

Wow.  Our country faces serious issues.  A crumbling infrastructure.  An unsustainable prison system.  Perpetual wars.  Climate change (even Republicans admit it’s real, though they won’t blame humans for it).  Ever widening gaps between rich and poor.  Student loan and credit card debt that threaten a fragile economic recovery.  Mediocre education.  Ever rising health care costs (still the number one cause for personal bankruptcies in America).  But forget all that: let’s talk about fetuses, non-existent voter fraud, and guns.

And Republicans like Santorum wonder why “too many people don’t think we care about them.”  Gee… I wonder why, Rick.

(A personal note: In 1976, though too young to vote, I supported Gerald Ford rather than Jimmy Carter.  In 1984, I voted for Ronald Reagan because I believed Walter Mondale lacked the gravitas to be president at a crucial moment in US-Soviet affairs.  Ever since then, the Republican Party has lost me with its cynical culture wars and active suppression of democracy, among other reasons.)

8 thoughts on “Conservative Kookiness in Iowa

  1. You voted for Reagan because he had more “gravitas”.? Gee, his brains were half fried when he was governor of California. The other half of his brain was filled with GE ( his former employer) talking points.
    So you supported one guy with no brains and the other with half of one. What would you be looking for now in the desert we call the 2016 election?

    • OK, pbs. I’ll take this on. First, I think Gerald Ford was and is much underrated. His fundamental qualities were decency and honesty: exactly what the country needed after Watergate. Was he brilliant? No. Nixon was far more sharp in a Machiavellian way. And look where that got us. Second, with respect to Reagan: Yes, he was in decline by 1984, if not earlier. But he and Gorbachev almost eliminated nuclear weapons. Reagan, I think, understood America. He paid lip service to conservative Republican hot button issues, while never doing anything to advance them, e.g. abolishing abortion — Reagan basically did nothing here.

      Reagan was somehow above his Party. And he excelled in the ceremonial role as president, which is important since our president must be both monarch and prime minister. Few men have done well at both.

      Reagan had serious flaws, yet I’ll take him, flaws and all, over the Cruzes, the Christies, the Santorums, and so on.

      2016: No one on the Republican side is attractive. On the Democratic side, Hillary is a lock if she chooses to run. My choice will be either Clinton or a third-party candidate.

      • Wellee, Wellee, wellee. (fr. Anthony Burgess’s book Clockwork Orange) So Reagan, who destroyed unionism in this country, started the shift of tax favor to the 1% by lying who would get the tax cuts, who won the great War of Grenada, and has become the the Republicans beacon of “liberty and freedom for all (if you are rich) didn’t do anything to harm our country? That’s “Clockwork Orange” insane destructiveness.
        And Gerald Ford was so decent he pardoned Nixon who had criminalized the office of President. And you will support Hillary who has never accomplished anything in her terms as a Senator and Sec. of State. Who allowed the State Dept. to proceed on the Keystone Pipeline when it would have been easy to kill while she was Secretary and who passively , and I am giving her the benefit of the doubt, sent her lackey Lanny Davis to “advise” the fascists who overthrew the elected populist President of Honduras and thus making it the murder capital of Central America. Which I may add was the first military coup in Latin America in 20 years.
        Although Nixon criminalized the office of President he showed more of that thing all of our recent Presidents lack, and that is “vision”. He opened the door to China, passed the Clean Water Act, and if he had stopped there would have been one of our great presidents. The Soviet Union fell without Reagan’s help. He was just there to ‘glad hand’ Gorbachev.

    • Yes. Single-issue zealots. A scary bunch. No tolerance or compassion for those who disagree with them. Yet so many of them would claim to be “Christian.” Sigh.

  2. Not only no tolerance or compassion for those who disagree with them, but no tolerance or compassion for anyone, any expressions of regret or apology, or honestly admitting to revealed mistakes. Christian? Don’t think so.

  3. Kudos to Col. Astore for admitting to his past voting record! “Perceptive brain surgeon” gave him a good thrashing on RayGun, so I won’t pile on (unlike the New England Patriots, I don’t cheat!). But wait!! “PBS” then returns to say Nixon was potentially a Great President?!? So, opening the door of Capitalism to China, which indisputably led to the decimation of American manufacturing, outweighed the war crimes against the peoples of Southeast Asia, murders of college students by National Guardsmen, Watergate and other domestic espionage affairs??? This is an odd view from someone who appeared to be pro-labor!!! Well, well, welly-well indeed, my little droog!! Make up your mind which end of the political spectrum YOU are on, please!

    • Greg. We really don’t know if Nixon had the foresight to see that the Chinese Communist Party would open it’s doors to letting the US industrialize it. That came much later. At the time it removed China as an enemy that certain people in the US would love to go to war against. Remember the “domino theory” was the pretext for our involvement in Vietnam.
      My comment about Nixon’s legacy as a potential “great President” may have been a bit hyperbole but it was used to show what small minds, both Dems and Repugs we have had since then. Obama is the epitome of a vision less President. Nixon’s opening to China had a lot of strong opposition in the background..Now our visionless President has made China an enemy by his “pivot” to the Pacific and one should look at this sudden friendship with India as more than a sales trip for GE nuclear plants.

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