Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bad Seeds - The Withering Republican Leadership

Holocaust references? Mike Hucakbee's cool with that
What's even more remarkable than Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee comparing the Obama administration and the State Department signing a deal with Iran to taking "Israelis and marching them to the door of the oven." is the tepid reaction to the comment itself by leading Republicans.

Over the course of his political career Huckabee has said some truly stupid things that must be read to be believed, but his invoking images from the Holocaust to characterize a diplomatic treaty drags the already soiled perception of the Republican party even lower.

Was he was simply trying boost his sagging approval ratings by "out-Trumping" Donald Trump's dimwitted inflammatory comments?

Or was he intentionally looking for an opportunity to get some quick free press to boost his chances to be selected as one of the ten GOP candidates who make the cut for Fox News' upcoming Republican presidential debate?

Maybe he'd just tossed back a couple scotches before the interview and pulled a "Jimmy the Greek",
I don't know.

Ovens at Majdanek concentration camp near Lublin, Poland
Regardless of his motivation, Huckabee's choice of words demonstrate a remarkable lack of historical understanding of the scope of the Holocaust in Europe during WWII; and the suffering endured by it's millions of victims and their families, friends, co-workers and countrymen.

His willingness to callously refer to something as horrific as the bodies of innocent people being incinerated in ovens on a mass scale simply to make the point that he disagrees with a foreign policy decision that involved diplomacy rather than war, belies an insensitivity that is all too characteristic of the tone of today's Republican party.

 To me, it's an affront to decency and an insult to Jews.

The tepid response from the Republican candidates themselves about Huckabee's comment also says a lot about the current incarnation of the GOP leadership; which is defined as much for it's open embrace of bigotry and intolerance as it is for it's undisguised misogyny, immigrant bashing, and rejection of science in favor of baseless rhetoric.

As Juliet Ilperin reported yesterday in an article in The Washington Post, during a press conference in Ethiopia on Monday, President Obama spoke thoughtfully and at length about Huckabee's comments, saying:

"The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are just part of a general pattern that would be considered ridiculous, if it wasn't so sad. We've had a sitting Senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We've had a sitting Senator, who also happens to be running for president, suggest that I'm the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are the leaders in the Republican Party."  

Leaders indeed.

RNC Dir. of Comm. Sean Spicer
As Josh Israel reported on earlier this morning, Sean Spicer, (pictured left) the RNC's Chief Strategist & Communications Director told CNN he would neither condemn Huckabee's comments, nor characterize them as inappropriate; saying only that "they can speak for themselves."

Thanks for clearing that up for us Sean, in the wake of the silence from the Republican Party leadership after Donald Trump's recent racist comments about Mexicans we weren't sure about that.

Oh and speaking of the leading Republican presidential candidate, Trump shrugged off Huckabee's controversial comments in an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, saying: "I mean, I'm OK with it."

Which isn't all that surprising considering Trump also just announced in an interview on Monday that he'd like to see marginalized former VP candidate Sarah Palin appointed to a cabinet post if he gets elected, insisting, "She's really somebody who knows what's happening."

Except of course, that Africa is a continent, not a country, or which newspapers she reads.

I'm guessing The Donald never got a chance to watch the movie chronicling the 2008 presidential race 'Game Change' HBO.

While Rick "Opus Dei" Santorum also sprang to Huckabee's defense, Jeb Bush was actually the only top-tier candidate to buck the GOP and come out and say Huckabee's comments were "wrong", but it was more a gentle slap on the wrist than a scolding.

Dr. Ben "Obamacare is like slavery" Carson
Earlier this afternoon while I was riding the exercise bike at the gym during my lunch break, I watched CNN's Jake Tapper doing a live interview with Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson.

When Tapper asked Dr. Carson about his thoughts on Huckabee's "oven" comment, Carson carefully ducked the question.

Instead he seemed to sympathize with the media backlash against Huckabee by admitting that he himself had been "misunderstood" when he compared the Affordable Care Act to the institution of slavery.

So what's it all mean? Right now the Republican Party is so outside the fence, it's hard to tell.

Do GOP rainmakers want another Bush in the White House?
The political cynic in me believes all this headline-grabbing right-wing buffoonery from these intellectual clowns is carefully and intentionally crafted to set up Jeb Bush as this reasonable-looking moderate front-runner when the smoke finally clears, all the suckers, hucksters and opportunists are cleared out from this field of seventeen candidates, and the race really gets down to business.

The political cynic in me thinks the GOP has intentionally taken the leashes off and let the dogs run wild so Jeb Bush, who's raised more cash than anyone, can eventually emerge as the "moderate" one who stood up to "the crazies" as Senator John McCain aptly described them.

But if all this offensive hate-speak is not a front, and people like Huckabee, Trump and their ilk really DO think the way their offensive media soundbites make them sound, then it's a clear indicator that the Republican Party is not a legitimate, issues-based political party anymore.

It's a paid-for husk that's been stripped of decency, compassion, reason and genuine American values. Thanks to its willingness to allow itself to be hijacked by a fringe extremist wing, the GOP has been reduced to a political party that is devoid of actual ideas, or forward-thinking policies.

As Huckabee's comments and the ho-hum response from the Republican leadership to them demonstrate, this is a political party that only knows how to deal in the currency of fear, ignorance, hysteria and hatred.

These days that's about all it's cultivating, and given the shifting demographics of America's diverse populace, that's not something you can take to Washington, plant in the White House garden and expect to see grow.

Huckabee and Trump make clear the kinds of seeds the Republican leadership has sewn; it's spawned a spoiled crop that's just going to wither on the vine.

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