The low-level quality of current Republican presidential candidates is an insult to America. All display a craziness and brazen greed.
It began with John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. The choice of this incompetent, unqualified, inexperienced, and stupid person as a vice presidential candidate called McCain's judgment into serious question. Had the old war hero turned senile? How could he have put such a person a heartbeat from the Presidency? The mere thought of Palin in the White House was frightening. But McCain's choice was far more than a scare -- it insulted America and unleashed a wave of violence and racism that continues.
Never forget the crosshairs map Palin posted on her Facebook page. She urged her Twitter followers, "Don't retreat, reload." Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' face was in one of the crosshairs. On January 8, 2011, Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head outside a Tucson Safeway supermarket. Fortunately she survived and is making a remarkable recovery. But America is still coping with the incivility and insults initiated by Palin and taken up by the Tea Party and Congressional Republicans.
The insults continued after President Obama was elected and took office. With exhortations to "take back our country," the Tea Party, overwhelmingly made up of whites, spread its unsubtle racist message. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that "take back our country" meant take it back from the black guy who's President.
Four days before the President was inaugurated, the tone was set by radio talk show bloviator Rush Limbaugh. On January 16, 2010, Limbaugh said, "I hope Obama fails."
During the President's first term, Congressional Republicans took up Limbaugh's mantra, deciding to do everything in their power to destroy the Obama presidency by holding up, blocking, weakening, misrepresenting, and voting against everything the President and Democrats wanted to accomplish.
Republican senator Mitch McConnell stated the Republicans' position quite clearly: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," McConnell told Major Garrett in an interview published in the National Review in October 2010. A month later, in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, he repeated his position: "Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term."
In another time, such a call of opposition to a sitting President would have been considered treason. But over the past two years, Republicans have, like obedient little soldiers, followed McConnell's marching orders, turning their backs on their country and the people who elected them and abandoning their responsibility to participate in government.
Despite repeated attempts by the President to work in a bipartisan fashion, Republicans refused, becoming the "Party of No." No to health care for all Americans. No to the President's job creation bill. No to restoring regulations of the banks whose fraudulent practices caused the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression. No to repealing the Bush tax cuts that added billions of dollars to the deficit. No to taxing millionaires and billionaires so they pay their fair share.
Last summer, Republicans' political brinksmanship with the debt ceiling resulted in the first downgrade in the national credit rating in U.S. history. In carrying out Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell's dictum to bring about failure of the Obama administration, Republicans have made Congress dysfunctional and the economic recovery slower than it might have been had they spent more time working with the President instead of working against him. That President Obama has been able to accomplish so much despite Republicans' intransigence is a tribute to his political skill, patience and intelligence.
Now we come to this election year and the line-up of potential Republican presidential candidates who are as insultingly unqualified as Sarah Palin. All celebrate their ignorance of history, science, economics, foreign policy, and the U.S. Constitution. All denounce evolution. All deny climate change despite more than 30 years of scientific evidence that proves it is happening with alarming acceleration. All oppose reproductive choice and health services for women. All denounce government intrusion except in a woman's uterus. All exude hatred for the President. All display a craziness and brazen greed.
Ron abolish-the-department-of-education Paul opposed requiring health insurers to cover pre-existing illnesses and denounced Medicare and Medicaid.
Herman 9-9-9 Cain and Rick execution-champion Perry both exhibited brain freeze, the former showing gross ignorance of foreign policy, the latter unable to recall his own thoughts and appearing as if he were high during a campaign speech in New Hampshire.
Michele tea-party-madam Bachmann has made so many statements displaying her ignorance that it would be impossible to list even a fraction of them. Just one will suffice -- she said the founding fathers "worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." She was off by almost a century. (The U.S. Constitution went into effect March 4, 1789. Slavery ended with the 13th Amendment in 1865.)
Rick contraception-is-dangerous Santorum, displaying his fanatical opposition to abortion, said pregnancy through rape is "a gift of human life." His advice to women who become pregnant through rape is, "accept what God is giving you."
Newt family-values Gingrich, proposed hiring poor kids to clean their schools. So much for child labor laws.
Mitt "corporations-are-people" Romney, the current front-runner, has changed positions so many times that he seems in perpetual twirl like a wind-up toy out of control. But his recent gaffe may be the most truthful thing he has said: "I'm not concerned about the very poor." It's been clear all along that Mitt is out of touch with everybody except millionaires and billionaires. Asked about his gaffe, Mitt said he "misspoke," but he misspoke the truth.
One could view the so-called "debates" as a mediocre comedy show were the stakes not so high. As a group, the quality of the Republican candidates is embarrassing; insulting Americans' intelligence and displaying contempt for the people. If this is the best Republicans have to offer, it is a pathetic commentary on the level to which the party has sunk. There was a time when there were Republican statesmen and stateswomen, people you could respect even through you didn't agree with them, people who could compromise and work with the President instead of doing their best to derail him.
Sadly the current Republican Party has sold its soul to right-wing fanatics and greed-driven lobbyists. In response to the February 2012 good news that unemployment dropped for the fifth straight month and job creation was higher than at any time since 1998, Republicans criticized the President for "slowing" economic recovery and stated, "We can do better." Well, why haven't they done better for their country during the past two years when they have controlled the House?
Throughout the President's entire first term, Congressional Republicans have shown they are empty suits with nothing to offer. They have persistently pursued only two objectives: destroy the Obama presidency and further reduce taxes for millionaires and billionaires. The thought of Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich becoming President should fill anyone with dread. Neither has the breadth of vision or the understanding of the complex world in which we live to be President of the United States of America. The election of either would be the final disastrous insult to our country, to our democracy and to the American people.
I write nature/science books for children and adults. My most recent book is HOW TO HAVE SEX IF YOU'RE NOT HUMAN: INTIMATE JOURNEYS IN NATURAL HISTORY, an e-book. This book is a collection of a dozen of my articles about mating behavior in a variety of animals and reproductive strategies among plants. Yes, the blooming plants "do it," too. My most recent children's book is PLEASE DON'T WAKE THE ANIMALS: A BOOK ABOUT SLEEP (Peachtree Publishers, 2008). A new updated edition of my adult book, SEXUAL STRATEGIES: HOW FEMALES CHOOSE THEIR MATES, is now available (iUniverse.com 2008). This book deals with how females across the animal kingdom -- from fruit flies to humans -- choose their mates and the powerful role female choice plays in evolution.