Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Coulter Gets Clipped, Cruz Birthers & Christie 3.0

Ted Cruz talking with a New Hampshire resident
There's a distinct waft of desperation hovering over the remaining crop of Republican presidential candidates.

Especially in the wake of South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley's decision to use the post-State of the Union address rebuttal to call out the top GOP candidates for the anger, intolerance, bigotry and ignorance they've cultivated over the course of the 2016 campaign season.

In response, racist Fem-Nazi author Ann Coulter plunged back into the familiar waters of the intellectual cesspool she luxuriates in by suggesting that "Trump should deport Nikki Haley" on her Twitter account.

And even right-wingers tore into her crass stupidity and moronic fawning over a clown like Trump.

Ted Cruz, who rode a wave of Tea Party anger into the U.S. Senate in 2013, has found himself in the awkward position of having to defend himself against charges leveled by Donald Trump and others that he's not eligible to become President because he wasn't born in the United States. 

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on December 22, 1970, and that inconvenient fact is causing a snag for his presidential ambitions.

As Constitutional law professor Mary Brigid McNanamon wrote in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post: 

"The Constitution provides that 'No person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the Office of President." 

Nothing ambiguous about that.

As and numerous other media sources have reported over the past few days, the same unbalanced right-wing zealots (like Fox News' Sean Hannity) who spent years fanning the flames of the "birther" cause when it was President Obama's citizenship being questioned, now see no issue with the fact that Ted Cruz was actually born in another country.  

How ironic that the same guy who once gleefully courted Obama birthers, now has his own birthers.

Cruz isn't the only Republican candidate who's getting desperate as the primary season heats up.

Christie during his State of the State address Tuesday
With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie still languishing at an anemic 3% in a recent Public Policy poll, he was desperate enough to do something he hasn't done much of in the past 12 months - show up at the state capital in Trenton on Tuesday and actually do the job he was elected to do.

Hours before Obama's final State of the Union, Christie delivered his State of the State address, pitching (among other things) economic growth for a state which ranks among the lowest in the nation in wage growth and job creation, and a call to eliminate the New Jersey estate tax - which impacts a tiny percentage of the state's wealthiest residents.

Christie's address was clearly aimed for national appeal and a needed boost for his stagnant approval numbers; but as long-time Christie observers like Tom Moran reported, overall the speech fell kinda flat - for a guy who touts being someone who "Tells it like it is" he didn't even mention some of the most serious issues facing New Jersey yesterday.

Even the Koch Brothers took a swipe at Christie for failing to address the massive Transportation Trust Fund issue looming over the state of New Jersey while the clock keeps ticking on the need to begin construction for the desperately-needed Hudson River rail tunnels between NJ and Penn Station in Manhattan.

While he deserves a measure of credit for calling for more drug treatment programs for non-violent offenders in his speech, his chameleon-like morphing on a host of issues he once openly supported (like his  total flip-flop on gun control in recent months) just hasn't been enough to nudge his sluggish poll numbers.

And it's left people confused about who he actually is politically, and where he stands.

As reporter Matt Katz pointed out Monday on WNYC's 'Christie Tracker Podcast', it's now clear that Christie is pretty much saying anything he can to get elected - even if it's not true or even factually accurate.

NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan
Christie likes to portray himself as a tough-talking politician who's a friend of law enforcement.

But the president of the New Jersey State Policeman's Benevolent Association, Patrick Colligan (pictured left) sent an open letter to members of the New Hampshire law enforcement community yesterday to advise them that the NJ governor is about "as far away from being a law enforcement candidate as you can get."

In his letter, Colligan basically called Christie's siphoning of pension funds to shore up budget shortfalls "fraud".

And remember, these budget shortfalls were (in part) created by Christie himself, who placed his loyalty to anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist's "No new taxes" pledge above the needs of the people of New Jersey.

No one wants to pay higher taxes, but I know for a fact that a lot of people here in New Jersey (including me) would be willing to pay a moderate increase at the gas station to increase state revenue by raising the gas tax in NJ to help finance the state's share of the cost for the new Hudson Rail tunnel project and shore up the Transportation Trust Fund.

The gas tax in New Jersey hasn't been raised in 25 years.

Given the economic state of the state, it likely will be in the near future; Christie understandably didn't want to be the governor who did it.

The duck and cover strategy is fine and good if you're a lame duck politician with a low approval rate who just wants to get out of office and slip into a cozy well-paying private sector job with some semblance of your reputation intact.

But Christie is running for President and as desperate as he is to hold the office, a term in the White House is earned by showing bold leadership, demonstrating the ability to be a political visionary who can unite rather than divide, and making the tough decisions that might fly in the face of conventional wisdom; as Obama did on the Affordable Care Act.

The politicians who risk their political clout to make the tough calls do so not because it appeases an interest group or because it's popular.

They do it because simply, as President Obama often says, "It's the right thing to do."

And as desperate as this field of Republican candidates are to be elected to the highest office in the land, doing the right thing is something that they all seem to struggle with.

And that's not a good sign.

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