Is This the Best We Can Do?

Published: September 12, 2011

By Jim Lichtman
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Is this the future of politics?

Here is Texas Governor Rick Perry on evolution: “It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it.”

Here is former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell talking about women in the military: “By integrating women into particular military institutes, it cripples the readiness of our defense. When you have a woman in that situation it just creates a whole new set of dynamics which are distracting to training these men to kill or be killed.”

Help me out here, folks. Is the political gene pool is so weak that this is the best we can do.

Governor Perry said this about Fed. Chair Ben Bernanke: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”

Are we so lacking in intelligent, well-informed candidates that the electorate is seriously listening to a governor who doesn’t know the difference between science and religion and a former candidate for the United States Senate who says she’s not running but is making the rounds of the talk-show circuit talking like one?

After his initial remarks about the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Governor Perry softened his tone but added, “[The Federal Reserve] should open their books up. They should be transparent so that the people of the United States know what they are doing.”

In his New York Times column, Pulitzer Prize winning business writer and former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, James B. Stewart suggests that both Governor Perry and the voting public need to check the facts.

“No one in government, including the quasi-independent Federal Reserve chairman, should be above criticism,” writes Stewart. “But if Mr. Bernanke is going to be the centerpiece of such a heated debate, it should be conducted on the facts. And in that respect, ‘The level of ignorance among some of the Republican presidential candidates about monetary policy is stunning,’ Mark Gertler, a professor of economics at New York University, said this week. ‘Mr. Perry has been taken to task for his choice of language, but not for the substance of his remarks, which is outrageous.’ ”

“It’s hard to believe the Fed’s critics have read the minutes of the Aug. 9 Fed Board and Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which were released this week. They may not read like a Robert Ludlum thriller, but they’re nothing if not transparent. They spell out in great detail the Fed’s reaction to the latest discouraging unemployment data, tepid economic growth and stock market volatility, including specific measures that might be used to address these problems.”

Last week, in the first Tea Party Republican debate, Governor Perry reiterated his claim that Social Security is “a monstrous lie,” and a “Ponzi scheme.” Perry has been beating this drum since last year. Politifact responded last year by pointing out that “A Ponzi scheme is a crime… Social Security is obligated to pay benefits, unlike shysters who run Ponzi schemes. Also, the way Social Security operates isn’t shrouded in deceit and it’s accountable to Congress and the American people.”

According to, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning fact-check organization, of 77 statements checked (as of Sept. 9, 2011) made by Gov. Perry, the current front-running Republican candidate for president, Politifact found that 24% of his statements were True or MostlyTrue; 27% were Half-True; 38% were False or Mostly False; and 11% were rated Pants-on-Fire False.

Honestly, people (those rooting for Perry) do you really want to put a man who is factually correct only 24% of the time in charge of the third branch of government?

In introducing himself to Iowa voters last month, Governor Perry wasn’t even well-informed enough to know the facts about his own city of birth, Paint Creek, Texas. In an August 14th speech, Perry said, “It doesn’t even have a ZIP code.”

Politifact found: “At the Haskell post office, about 10 miles northwest of Paint Creek, clerk Nancy Snelling told us that Paint Creek has a ZIP code; it’s 79521, which is also the ZIP code for Haskell, the county seat.” In trying to understand Perry’s remark, Politifact added, “Perhaps Perry means Paint Creek is not big enough to warrant its own ZIP code. In that vein, there’s an element of truth to his claim. We rate it Mostly False.”

Just when you thought the last horse has left the barn, we have former Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell making the media circuit with the release of her new book, Troublemaker. O’Donnell is the same “political contender” who faced Bill O’Reilly on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor in 2007 and proclaimed, “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.”

I don’t know how to respond to that kind of loopy statement.

In a debate with her opponent for the U.S. Senate last year against Democrat Chris Coons, O’Donnell was unable to name a single Supreme Court case she disagrees with. “Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one … I’m very sorry right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot but, uh, I’ll put it up on my website I promise you.”

And when it comes to evolution, you can’t beat O’Donnell. Back in 1998, long before her run for the Senate, O’Donnell appeared on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect with this: “You know what, evolution is a myth. Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”

After Governor Perry’s evolution theory remark, another Republican candidate for President, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman tweeted, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

On August 31st Huntsman addressed voters on his core issue. “We have an economic crisis in this country. The marketplace is crying out for predictability, competitiveness and signs of confidence. Above all, people need jobs. There is no more urgent priority at this point in our nation’s history than creating jobs and strengthening our economic core; everything else revolves around it….”

Call me crazy, but does this guy really think he has a chance in “H” of capturing the Republican nomination with statements that actually focus on the issues that affect Americans most?


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