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GOP Tries to Defund Columbia University for Letting Ahmadinejad Speak

Steve Benen: Don't Republicans have anything better to do?
 
 
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This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

There's just something painful about watching desperate people lash out wildly. Two weeks ago, Republican supporters of Bush's Iraq policy decided that the single most important issue in the country was a newspaper ad from MoveOn.org. It took precedence over conditions in Iraq, troop rotations, and funding. The GOP, frantically hoping to avoid anything resembling a policy debate, kept its hysteria going for two weeks.

By all appearances, Republicans would love to keep MoveOn's ad on the front-burner indefinitely, but the fickle political world can only tolerate so much obsession with trivia. So, the right has decided to drop the nonsense and engage in a serious discussion about the future of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

No, I'm just kidding. They've decided that Columbia University is the new Public Enemy #1 because it offered a forum to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

[Yesterday,] Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said in a statement that if Columbia University President Lee Bollinger "follows through with this hosting of the leader of Iran, I will move in Congress to cut off every single type of Federal Funding to Columbia University." [...]

Appearing on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto after the speech, Hunter said that he plans to follow through on his threat and will now "initiate legislation, and try to get as many people as can see it my way, to cut off funds to Columbia University."

Now, Duncan Hunter clearly has an incentive to appear unhinged. He's a faltering presidential candidate, and the GOP base is easily riled up by absurd stunts like these. (Indeed, it's a two-fer -- it's posturing on Iran and it's blasting an Ivy League university filled with "intellectual elites.") But whether he realizes it or not, Hunter only comes across looking foolish.

As Kevin Drum asked, "Don't Republicans have anything better to do?" Apparently not.

TP has the video, but here's the exchange on Fox News.

Cavuto: It is done. What do you do now?

Hunter: I think we initiate legislation and try to get as many people as we can see it my way to cut off funds to Columbia University. You know, when Ahmadinejad appeared, he has at this point actually sent across the line into Iraq deadly roadside bombs, these new bombs. I have seen some of these in Iraq myself, talking with the American commanders there. Those of American soldiers, American Marines in Iraq. This guy send [sic] those things across the line to kill Americans, and the idea that the university would lend its prestige to his appearance is, I think, if unacceptable, and I sent a letter to the president of the university, telling him that I would, in fact, move to try to cut off all funds to Columbia. Now, some people may follow me. Some people may not follow me.

Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.

 
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