Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Have you ever been in a situation where you witness an event so surreal that it literally leaves you speechless? I found myself in that situation yesterday…not once…not twice…but three times.

The first showcased the train wreck that can occur when opportunistic politicians insert themselves into the confluence of religion and the rule of law. The second provides proof that optics are often times more important than substance; and the third makes the case that we need to do more to address the mental health issues that plague our country.

EMBARRASSING - We start in Grayson, Kentucky where Clerk of Courts Kim Davis finds herself in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Mrs. Davis had twice refused a federal court order to issue the licenses on the grounds that doing so would violate her religious beliefs. The court ordered her incarcerated for contempt.
Presidential candidate and ordained minister Mike Huckabee saw this as an opportunity to flex his evangelical muscle. So he organized a political rally in support of Davis to be staged in front of the jail. Hundreds turned out bearing signs supporting religious freedom. Ted Cruz even showed up no doubt hoping to use the event to bolster his standing with the evangelical base.
As the rally was about to start word spread that Kim Davis was going to be released. It seems that Mrs. Davis’ deputy clerks decided to defy her orders and began issuing the marriage licenses. Since the Clerk’s office was complying with the law there was no reason to keep Mrs. Davis in jail.
Huckabee kicked things off with an impassioned speech on the importance of religious freedom; even offering to take Mrs. Davis’ place in jail to prove his convictions. Suddenly, Huckabee and Davis’ lawyer announced to the unsuspecting crowd that Davis was being released. Pandemonium broke out as Davis, to the strains of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” emerged through the jailhouse doors. A sobbing Davis, overcome by emotions, took the podium as Huckabee and her attorney raised her arms in triumph. Davis gave a few brief remarks; imploring the crowd to keep up the fight; reminding them that God is with them. The ever present Huckabee close by her side like a second skin.
What about Ted Cruz. Cruz, never expecting to appear on the stage, tried to make his way to the gaggle of reporters near the podium. The goal…an impassioned comment of support for religious freedom caught on tape. But this was Huckabee’s event and his security guys were having none of it. Cruz gets caught on tape alright as he tries to sidestep his way around security only to be rebuffed at every turn. Cruz was said to be “incredulous” at the treatment.
My words cannot do justice to this embarrassing event or the sense of disbelief I felt as I watched it play out. Pull it up on YouTube and see for yourself. Truly a circus worthy of Barnum and Bailey.

OPTICS - The next event involves the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Over the past six months Mrs. Clinton has been dogged by an email scandal that just won’t go away. Her robotic responses to questioning have been cold, dismissive and steeped in legalese. Every call to apologize has been ignored. Until now.
The calculating Clinton Campaign informed reporters that they were remaking the campaign. From now on we would see a side of Clinton never before revealed…a more authentic, more genuine Clinton would soon appear. And it was so…
Last night Clinton appeared on ABC NEWS. When asked about her emails by interviewer David Muir she said that she was sorry. When asked why she was making a second run at the White House she choked up as she recounted how her mother admonished her to “fight for what you believe in no matter how hard it is.” Later she joined Ellen DeGeneres in a line dance.
If you read Mrs. Clinton’s remarks in the newspaper you would be inclined to take them at face value. But watching them on video you get a whole different perspective.
Clinton’s emotional reflection about her mother was raw, real and heartfelt. It is a side of her that supporters would like to see on display more often. However, the apology was a different matter. You know how when your kids apologize for something you can tell immediately whether or not they mean it or if they are just saying the words so you will leave them alone. This was that type of an apology. This was a hostage video where the prisoner is saying the words but you can tell that the kidnappers wrote the script. It was as if she was saying…”I’m sorry! Are you happy now?” It didn’t help matters that the apology was surrounded by a whole lot of “It was allowed…I did nothing wrong.” Legalese.
And then to suddenly unveil this light hearted, whimsical persona on Ellen’s show?
I bring this up because Mrs. Clinton, a smart and accomplished individual, is following the exact same path that cost her the nomination eight years ago. Clinton, the presumptive 2008 nominee was leading in the polls. Responding to charges that she was too cold and robotic, the 2008 Clinton campaign attempted a reset. A softer more genuine candidate was revealed. She even teared up as she spoke about her love of country and her desire to serve as champion for those who needed someone to look after their interests. She couldn’t pull it off then and I’m not sure she can pull it off now.
It is startling to watch her repeat the same mistakes that she made seven years ago.

MENTAL HEALTH – Last but certainly not least we enter the alternate universe that is Dick Cheney.
Cheney has been back in the news railing against the Obama administration for what he feels is a catastrophic deal with Iran. When he is not criticizing the nuclear deal or Obama’s “feckless foreign policies” Cheney is doing everything he can to re-write history.
Cheney blames President Obama for Iran’s influence in the region and the rise of ISIS. He ignores the fact that Iran’s rise to power and influence came as a direct result of the vacuum created by Bush administration’s wrong head decision to take out Saddam Hussein. He seems to have forgotten that as Defense Secretary under George H. W. Bush during the first Iraq War Cheney made that exact case for not following Hussein back to Baghdad; concerns over the power vacuum Hussein’s removal would cause in the region.
Cheney faults Obama for the advances made in Iran’s nuclear program; ignoring the fact that the program began in earnest under the Bush/Cheney administration. On FOX NEWS SUNDAY reporter Chris Wallace had the guts to confront Cheney when the former Vice President said that Iran began its nuclear build up under President Obama’s weak administration. WALLACE: “You dealt with Iran for eight years. During that time, from 2,000-2,009 Iran went from 0 operating centrifuges to more than 5,000. So in fairness, didn’t the Bush-Cheney administration leave President Obama with a mess?” CHENEY: “That was during Obama’s watch not ours.” WALLACE: “No, no, no. From 2000-2009. That was during your term in office.” Wallace also went back at Cheney over his assertions that President Obama was responsible for the rise of ISIS; reminding Cheney that ISIS arose out of the invasion of Iraq and the Bush administration decision to disarm and dismantle the Iraqi army.
Cheney is delusional and lives in an alternate universe. Republicans wish he would just go away. He needs help. Just another example of why we need to do more to tackle mental health issues.

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