News & Politics

8 GOP Primary Moments That Would Make Jesus Weep

The party that loves to talk about Jesus has been defying His Word this season.

Since this past Christmas season coincided with the final campaign push before the Iowa caucus, every Republican candidate for president worked extra hard to out-pander one another in claiming that God is supportive of his or her particular flat-tax plan.

But you have to wonder watching some of the Republican debates and press conferences if the GOP hopefuls have actually read the New Testament. Say what you will about Jesus, but he didn’t seem like the sort of guy who would support showering rich people with tax cuts, gutting social programs for the poor and middle-class, or launching multiple wars with Middle Eastern countries. Yet these are the sorts of things that his purported acolytes have been endorsing throughout the year, all the while claiming to be Jesus’ number-one fan in the whole world.

In this article we’ll tackle the five most cringe-inducing moments of the GOP primary, where candidates and their supporters have wantonly broken the Lord’s Commandments with seemingly gleeful abandon.

1. Candidates fall all over themselves to kiss the asses of rich people and trash the downtrodden.

Jesus once said that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Well, the Republicans must want to compensate for this by making rich peoples’ time on Earth as heavenly as possible through a wonderful blend of tax cuts and blatant ass-kissing.

The entire Republican economic philosophy can basically be boiled down thusly: Rich people are magical wealth-creating leprechaun fairies who sprinkle their sparkle dust over all of us worthless dirtbags to bless us with the gift of employment. But if any nasty populist ever says anything relatively nasty about rich people, they will vanish from the realm and take their magical job-creating powers with them and none of us will ever work or have food to eat ever again.

You can see this pretty clearly when you look at the way Rick Perry has been pushing Texas’ tax system as a shining model for the rest of the nation. As the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy [PDF] has shown, Texas’ regressive tax system ensures that the poorest 20% of its citizens typically pay more than four times in state and local taxes as a percentage of their overall income than the wealthiest 1% of Texans. How can this be, you ask? Well, Texas relies heavily on sales and excise taxes to fill its coffers, meaning that poorer people pay a much larger share of their income in taxes since a much larger share of their income goes toward consumption.

Nonetheless, Perry has described this system as “a tax policy in place that allowed for our job creators to not be burdened, still delivering the services that the people desire in the state of Texas.” Well, yeah, if by “services” you mean a pathetic social safety net that leaves more than one quarter of the population without health insurance, I guess that’s good.

Perry wasn’t alone in giving a big, sloppy kiss to the rich. Herman Cain’s infamous 9-9-9 tax plan would have slashed the income tax to 9% while at the same time implementing a 9% national sales tax that would take a huge chunk out of Americans in the lower income brackets while at the same time saving “a taxpayer in the top 0.1% who makes more than $2.7 million” an average of $1.4 million a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Speaking of Cain, he also wins the award for the most obnoxious class-warfare statement of the entire campaign when he said that “if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” He also went on to say that it was foolish to protest the greed and corruption on Wall Street since Wall Street bankers are “the ones who create the jobs.”  

And then there’s Mitt Romney, the patron saint of the 1%, who has shown a similar lack of empathy for our nation’s economically downtrodden. When asked what he’d do to help solve the massive foreclosure crisis that has put millions’ of families’ homes underwater, Romney replied that the best course of action would be to halt efforts to “stop the foreclosure process” and thus “let it run its course, to hit the bottom and let investors buy the home.” Or put another way, Romney wants to allow people to suffer so some rich asshole can swoop in and make a profit from their misery. That’s right Christian of you, sir.

One gets the feeling that Jesus wouldn’t do very well if he ran in a GOP primary since throwing money changers out of the temple would leave him vulnerable to charges of socialism.

2. GOP debate audiences and candidates celebrate death.

When the scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus an adulterous woman and asked him if she should be put to death for her sins, Jesus replied to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

But if Jesus had found himself in a similar situation with some Republican primary voters they would have responded by saying, “Give us the damn rocks, hippie!”

The ungodly trouble all started this past summer when NBC’s Brian Williams noted that Texas under Rick Perry had executed 234 death-row inmates during his term, “more than any other governor in modern times.” While no one expects anyone to be particularly sympathetic toward death-row inmates, we should expect that most decent people will refrain from erupting into bloodthirsty roars. And yet that’s just what the GOP debate audience did earlier this year.

If this were the only instance of Ancient Roman-style bloodthirst we could perhaps forgive it. But members of Republican debate audiences expressed similar enthusiasm when asked whether we should let Americans die if they lack health insurance. Cain, meanwhile, got a big round of applause during a speech when he said that he wanted to keep immigrants from entering the United States by building a “barbed-wire fence” that’s “20 feet high” and “electrified.” While Cain acknowledged that some people would find electrocuting immigrants to be an insensitive policy prescription, he said that the immigrants were the truly insensitive ones for “sneaking into America.”

This is all pretty weak sauce for a party that claims to be the direct disciples of the Prince of Peace. After all, when Jesus healed the lepers he never asked them whether they were personally responsible enough to buy insurance from Aetna. He just, you know, helped them. What a commie.

3. Which Muslims would Jesus bomb and torture?

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus informed his audience that “peacemakers” were “blessed” and would be considered “sons of God.” Many Republican candidates, however, seem content to be God’s creepy nephews who enjoy burning off insect legs with magnifying glasses.

During the Republican presidential debates, several GOP Godheads such as Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann went out of their way to defend waterboarding, the form of torture that had been employed by American intelligence agencies against terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. For those of you questioning whether waterboarding is actually torture, try having yourself drowned for five minutes and let us know if it was an enjoyable experience.

Bachmann, for one, said that torturing prisoners was justified because it was “very effective at getting information for our country.” Perry went a step further and said that he would defend the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding “until the day I die.” Herman Cain wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as Bachmann and Perry, as he hedged by saying he wasn’t sure whether or not waterboarding constituted torture and would instead “trust the judgement of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture.” The military, of course, aren’t supposed to be the ones making the laws, but you can see why Cain would blindly trust their judgment since he doesn’t know where Libya is.

When GOP candidates weren’t supporting torture, they were just as enthusiastic about bombing and invading other nations. Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich pledged to go to war with Iran to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon, with Newt in particular relishing the idea of “taking out their scientists," and "breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable.” Yeah, not sure the Iranians are going to give you a pass for assassinating their scientists when you announce your cunning plan to do so live on national television, Newt.

(It should be noted that no candidate is as war-crazy as Rick Santorum, who thinks that our global Good versus Evil Battle Against Muslamonazism will be “1000 years long.”)

Herman Cain, of all people, came across as relatively dovish when it came to war with Iran, saying it wasn’t practical to bomb the country since its topography is “very mountainous." Not exactly the reason that Jesus was looking for, but compared to the rest of candidates, we’ll take it.

4. Michele Bachmann looks to an atheistic Communist dictatorship for inspiration.

It’s very difficult to get Michele Bachmann to say anything nice about foreign countries, especially ones that are as atheistic and repressive as the People’s Republic of China. But Ms. Bachmann is apparently envious of China in certain key ways, namely that it lets its poor people rot and die in the streets.

During a November debate in South Carolina, Bachmann praised the People’s Republic for its adoption of the Milton Friedman/Augusto Pinochet school of economics in which corporations can do whatever the hell they want to people without paying one damn penny in taxes for the general welfare.

“If you look at China, they don't have food stamps,” she lectured. “If you look at China, they're in a very different situation. They don't have AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children]. They save for their own retirement security. They don't have the modern welfare state. And China's growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they'd be gone.”

Hear that, old folks? Get ready to get booted off of Medicare so you can spend your Golden Years being economically productive and manufacturing plastic children’s toys 16 hours a day. If this doesn’t seem like an ideal scenario for you, you might want to rethink voting Republican. Ever.

5. Spermin’ Herman’s excellent misadventures,

Jesus once said that any man who “looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Well, according to multiple women, Herman Cain has been committing adultery using his heart and several other body parts too.

Sex scandals are nothing new in politics, whether it’s Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, etc. etc. etc.  Whether a politician survives such scandals all comes down to whether he’s canny enough to win over public hearts and minds. Herman Cain, to put it plainly, was not that smart.

How not smart? Well let’s start off with the fact that Cain tried to brush off the sexual harassment allegations made against him while he was head of the National Restaurant Association. Cain tried to paint the allegations as a trifling non-issue, claiming he didn’t even know if the women in question had received any compensation for his alleged naughty advances. Then it turned out that the National Restaurant Association had paid out settlements to two of his accusers of roughly a year’s pay. Oopsie-doodles!

Cain then quickly backtracked and said he knew there was an agreement between the association and his accusers, but that the agreement was not the same thing as a settlement.

“When I first heard the word ‘settlement,’ I thought legal settlement,” Cain said. “My recollection later is that there was an agreement. So, I made assumption about the word ‘settlement’ that was legal. I didn’t think there was a legal settlement, but an agreement. Remember, this happened 12 years ago.”

If only Herman had gone to great lengths to discuss the definition of “is,” he could have wound up a laughing stock for right-wing talk radio for years to come. (Well, if he’d done that and come out as a Democrat.)

Cain got a brief reprieve from discussing his sexual misadventures when Rick Perry infamously forgot which government agencies he’d destroy but they came back with a vengeance in late November when Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White said that she’d had a 13-year affair with Cain. She described the affair thusly: “It wasn't complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.”

Cain responded by saying that such accusations were being fabricated by unseen forces who were “afraid of a Cain presidency.” And then he decided to suspend his campaign less than a week later. But on the plus side, he’ll likely never be asked what he thinks about Libya again in his life, the poor sap.

6. Newt Gingrich emerges as a frontrunner.

Above all else, this is the one most likely to make poor Jesus slap his hand on his face and say, “Verily, dost thou listen to anything that I didst say?” Put simply, Newt Gingrich is a walking Commandment breaker. He can’t even finish a bowl of cereal without coveting his neighbor’s ox. He’s that bad.

Let’s start with Newt’s three marriages. Gingrich and his first wife, Jackie, divorced in 1981 while she was still recovering from cancer. L.H. Carter, who served as Newt’s campaign treasurer at the time, said Newt told him that Jackie wasn't “young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the president. And besides, she has cancer.”

Newt then married his second wife, Marianne Ginther, six months after his divorce was finalized. Newt and Marianne divorced in 2000, as Newt admitted he had been having an affair during their marriage with Callista Bisek, a former House staffer who also happened to be 23 years younger than Newt. I guess it took poor Newty a while to find someone young enough and pretty enough to be worthy of his over-sized head, but he apparently found her in Callista since they’ve been married for more than 11 years now.

While no man is perfect and Newt’s past infidelities aren’t unique, his explanations for them sure are. When Newt was interviewed by David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, he said that he cheated on his wife because he was “driven by how passionately I felt about this country” and thus “worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”  That is, to quote the late George Carlin, what’s known as being stunningly and embarrassingly full of shit.

Which brings us to another of Newt’s un-Christlike traits: His incredible ability to spew bullshit about anything and everything. When it was revealed that Gingrich made at least $1.6 million lobbying on behalf of government-sponsored entity Freddie Mac, Newt simply claimed that Freddie had paid him all that money to learn his unique perspective as a historian on the housing market.  

And what was Newt’s historical advice, you ask? Well, Newt says that he warned Freddie execs they were buying up far too many risky mortgages. Which sounds all well and good until you read a 2007 interview with Newt posted on Freddie Mac’s Web site in which he says that conservatives ought to be supportive of government-sponsored entities because they’ve done such an amazing job in expanding home-buying opportunities for so many Americans.  

“The housing GSEs have made an important contribution to homeownership and the housing finance system,” Newt said a mere year before Fannie and Freddie collapsed and were taken over by the federal government. “We have a much more liquid and stable housing finance system than we would have without the GSEs. And making homeownership more accessible and affordable is a policy goal I believe conservatives should embrace.”

Oh, and have I mentioned Newt’s self-idolatry? Because there’s lots and lots of that as well. In 2009, for instance, Newt mused about his potential for a political comeback by comparing himself to Charles de Gaulle. In 1999, right after he had been run out of his job as House Speaker by his own party, Gingrich said he would go down as the most significant Congressman since Henry Clay in the 19th century since “Henry Clay's probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.” And when Gingrich received criticism for his poor political strategy back in 1996, the former Speaker responded by pointing out that people used to criticize the Duke of Wellington as well.

At any rate, if Newt is actually elected president, I pledge to become a born-again evangelical Christian since praying every night for the Rapture would be better than dealing with reality.

7. Ron Paul’s bigoted newsletters.

Before I get into this, I should note that Ron Paul is the rare Republican candidate who doesn’t want to plunge the United States into a series of ruinous wars in the Middle East. So, good job on that. Jesus will bless him in that regard.

The Prince of Peace will be less pleased, however, by Paul’s history of releasing bigoted newsletters that trashed black people and homosexuals while spouting loony-toons conspiracy theories about the Trilateral Commission that would make Glenn Beck blush.  

How bad were these newsletters? Consider a 1992 issue that said riots in Los Angeles only ended “when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. ... What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided.” Another 1992 newsletter said that “Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage” and thus cause rioting.

Paul’s newsletters also attacked homosexuals as deviant disease carriers who only have themselves to blame for contracting HIV. A 1994 newsletter explained that “those who don’t commit sodomy, who don’t get blood a transfusion, and who don’t swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay.” Another newsletter similarly said homosexuals were to blame for contracting HIV as they “don't really see a reason to live past their fifties” since “they are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners.”

For his part, Paul claims that he didn’t write the letters that bore his name. And, you know, sure. I’m trying to imagine how the Irish Taoiseach will react when he receives a letter in President Paul’s name informing him that “the Irishmen have reverted to their traditional roles as Europe’s brawling drunks after having a brief period of economic prosperity. Only an ample supply of Guinness and potatoes will be able to stop the Irishman from rioting and looting his British superiors in the months ahead.” Will the Irish chief of state really buy the president’s explanation that the letter was written by a rogue Secretary of State?

8. Newt Gingrich’s staff pull together a Christmas carol video.

No mere words can describe the deep sense of mourning and regret that Jesus must have felt when he realized that his birthday inspired this video:

So we’ll just let you watch it and leave it at that.

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.