The 5 Craziest Things Spouted by the GOP Presidential Hopefuls ... Just This Week
Though the GOP contenders for 2012 are not particularly pleasant, you definitely can’t accuse them of being boring (even Pawlenty seems determined to compensate for his innate dullness by trying to out-crazy the crazies). The election is over a year off and we’re already experiencing a daily carnival ride of rhetoric that is as confusing as it is hate-filled. Here are some of this week’s highlights.
1. Michele Bachmann is proud of her husband’s gay brainwashing.
Never mind her migraines; the real story continues to be Bachmann’s stance on homosexuality (which, if you haven’t noticed, is incredibly anti). This month has been particularly active in the Bachmann world: her husband Marcus has been lambasted for weeks for his ridiculous quote that gays are “barbarians who need to be educated,” and his Christian therapy clinic has come under scrutiny for its practice of trying to turn gays straight. Last night, a group of gay activists in Minnesota calling themselves “Gay Barbarians” glitter-bombed the waiting room of the clinic, chanting “You can’t pray away the gay, baby I was born this way!” Awesome. Last week, Michele Bachmann defended the clinic, saying she was “very proud” of it. Meanwhile, Salon reminds us that in 2006 the presidential candidate attacked the HBO show "Big Love," saying that it “normalizes polygamy.”
This week started out on a crazy foot when presidential candidate Herman Cain appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss what he called a “mosque” in Murfreesboro, Tennessee—something he, known for being vocally anti-Muslim, clearly opposed. (Like Park 51 in New York, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is in fact an Islamic cultural center where everyone is welcome, but has commonly been mischaracterized as a mosque. Recent activities include sports events, a cookout and Fourth of July fireworks.) At a rally last Thursday, Cain appeared concerned about the rights afforded us by the Constitution, saying the cultural center was “an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion. And I don't agree with what's happening, because this isn't an innocent mosque."
Yet ironically, on Fox News, he advocated infringing upon others’ freedom of religion, saying that communities should be allowed to block the construction of mosques. Asked whether any community should be able to prohibit a mosque, Cain said they should.
"They have the right to do that. That's not discriminating ... against that particular religion. That is an aspect of them building that mosque that doesn't get talked about," he said.
Cain again argued that residents were objecting to "the fact that Islam is both a religion and a set of laws, Shariah law. That's the difference between any one of our other traditional religions."
And the Ten Commandments are... what, again? Clearly, Cain’s extreme, radically conservative anti-Muslim views have raised protest, but the secondary reaction is just plain old bewilderment. Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, one of two Muslims in Congress, told Salon, “I don't know if Herman Cain is just a sick individual, or if he is using bigotry to strategically move his campaign forward. But in either case it's reprehensible that he just will not relent with this bigotry and that he actually thinks it's going to enhance his chances to get the Republican nomination. If I were a Republican, I would be outraged.”
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called Cain “bigoted” and beseeched his fellow Republicans to speak out against his hateful views, saying, “It's incumbent on reasonable people within the Republican Party to come out strongly and repudiate these kinds of un-American unconstitutional views," he said. "It's just so bizarre."
Well, maybe not—none of his fellow candidates decried his statement, and as Steve Kornacki put it at Salon, Cain's Muslim-baiting is likely helping him; suspicion of Islam and distrust of American Muslims is increasingly common within the base of the Republican Party. A Public Religion Research Institute survey earlier this year found that 31 percent of Republicans believe that American Muslims want to establish Sharia law in this country, and 34 percent of white evangelicals feel the same way. Republicans are also four times less likely than Democrats to believe Muslims have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement. And nearly 60 percent of Republicans don't believe Muslims have done enough to combat terrorism in their own communities.
Still, even Breitbart’s Big Government looked at Cain’s Tennessee “mosque” comments as the bitter end, running an op-ed titled “It’s Official! Herman Cain’s Campaign is Done—Stick a Fork in It!” If Breitbart thinks you’re crazy....
3. Mitt Romney snaps on economy.
It should be enough to point out Romney’s non-reaction to Cain’s statements. He denounced New York’s Park 51 in the past, though his stance on social issues flip-flops enough that his true beliefs are anyone’s guess. But the presumed GOP presidential frontrunner is often trotted out as the “sane” candidate, the moderate voice in a sea of extreme weirdos and conspiracy theorists who, some would have you believe, wouldn’t be too much more to the right than Obama. That is, of course, if you believe a millionaire politician whose political donations have primarily come from Wall Street and who wrecked the Massachusetts economy when he was governor is reasonable.
Romney has avoided making statements on social issues, instead focusing on the economy, and a visit to Los Angeles on Wednesday was no exception. Romney held a press conference in the parking lot of a shuttered strip mall he used as an example of the recession (though a local councilmember points out that the land’s revitalization process by a local business is imminent). As is his tactic, he once again tried to place the blame for the bad economy squarely on Obama. "The president is fond of saying he didn't cause the recession, he inherited the recession,” he said. “And that's true. But he made it worse and he also made worse the recovery."
But that’s not true. As California Democratic VP Chair Eric C. Baumann pointed out:
We all know that economic recovery and job creation for average Americans is the top priority to put America back on track. However, Governor Romney is dead wrong when he puts the blame on President Obama for the lingering mess that George W. Bush and Republican governors like him and Arnold Schwarzenegger created.
During Romney's term as Governor of Massachusetts, his state ranked 47th out of 50 states in job growth, (MarketWatch, 2/23/10). Wages for average families dropped (MarketWatch, 2/23/10). Manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts fell by more than 14%, twice the national average (Boston Globe, 7/29/07). Foreclosure rates increased significantly and, in fact, more than quadrupled in three years (Boston Globe, 4/1/11). It should be noted that these losses occurred from 2003 to 2007, after the economy recovered from the 2001 recession.
And when the developer of the mall plaza parking lot pointed out that it had been closed since G.W. Bush, Romney shot back: "I'm glad a developer knows why the recession is so deep and the recovery lasting so long."
We’re glad he’s found the time to be sarcastic to an LA businessperson yet completely avoid conversation about the debt ceiling! Oh, wait, no we’re not.
4. (Potential Presidential Candidate) Rick Perry thinks Obama’s turning astronauts into ragamuffins.
Rick Perry has not announced his candidacy, but he's certainly considering the idea.
The conservative Texas governor isn’t so big on death-row inmates, but he’s apparently a huge fan of NASA. This week, he accused President Obama of “leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space” by shutting down the space program. He “did not mention President George W. Bush's role in the end of the space shuttle era.” Right. Meanwhile the New Republic informs us that Perry, who still may throw his hat in the ring for 2012, has been seeking national security advice from various conservatives, including lawyer Andy McCarthy. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s got a smattering of his own craziest quotes this week, mostly from this National Review interview. Here he is attempting to make the connection between health-care reform and, well, JIHAD.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What do health-care reform and “the Grand Jihad” have in common?
ANDREW C. McCARTHY: They both enjoy the support of Islam and the Left. Obviously, I need to explain a few things about that — brevity may be the soul of wit, but I’m learning it can be used against you. In this context, by “Islam,” I mean the Islamist movement — which, though very mainstream among the world’s Muslims, is by no means representative of all Muslims. By “the Left,” I mean the modern hard Left led by President Obama — I do not mean all people who would identify themselves as progressives or liberals. And when I say Islamists and leftists work together, I mean they have an alliance, not that they’ve merged. They’ve got some significant differences, but there are so many historical and present-day examples of collaboration, I’m surprised that there is any dispute about their alliance and their agreement on many big-picture issues.
It's beyond chilling thinking the governor of a large, populous state seeks national security counsel from a man who equates health care and "the modern hard left" with radicals who seek to destroy the Western world.
5. Tim Pawlenty wants GOP to 'blow it up' on debt ceiling.
The former governor of Minnesota thinks that not only are Republicans caving on the debt ceiling by making a compromise—they should just let it go into default and “blow it up” like he did in his home state. Not one for understatement, he also told Talking Points Memo that the party should not concede on any points, because the country needs a “dramatic moment” for “quantum change.” He based his wild statements on the concept that if the Treasury Department prioritized payments after a default, everything would work itself out—an idea that economists summarily reject. "Don't say this is the crazy man in the basement," he said. No, it’s the crazy man running for president.