The 2012 Cynic Awards (part 2)
This week, a continuation of the 2012 cynic awards.
As we left off last week, we had some truly cynical national events in 2012. But, local politics can generate cynicism too.
I won’t pick on our Porterville politicians too much. One city council member almost got an award after trying to dethrone the mayor because she had the audacity to insist on using Robert’s Rules of Order — you know, the same rules used by 95 percent of the elected and appointed bodies in the country. But, since he backed off of that request, I will too. If you have the humility to know when you’re wrong — or at least retreat when you’ve lost — you don’t get a cynic award.
But, the local Republican party does get one, though a small one, for chastising the entire set of city council candidates last spring for not subscribing to their pet UN conspiracy theory.
Most of the regional cynicism wasn’t local to Porterville. This year, a police chief in New Mexico was forced to resign due to his own criminal background leaving a dog as the only officer in town. Apparently, Nikka, the drug sniffing dog is very conscientious though.
In Tennessee, two Republicans got into a heated debate about which was more opposed to religious freedom. They both had apparently fought the building of a local mosque. It turns out the mosque is no longer in their district due to decennial redistricting.
The slightly too honest award of the year goes to Romney campaign aide Eric Fehmstrom. When asked if his candidate had moved too far to the right in the primary to compete in the general election, Fehmstrom compared the change from the primary campaign to the general election to an Etch-a-Sketch, where all previous policy positions would be erased and the campaign would start fresh.
Of course, Romney proved him right in the first debate as he began denying positions he’d held for most of the year.
Sexual politics were at the forefront this year. In Michigan, a lawmaker was banned from the floor of the legislature for using the word “vagina” in a speech.
In the “I hope this really isn’t necessary” category, a bill was introduced in the Oklahoma state legislature banning food products containing aborted fetuses.
In the never-ending campaign to make abortion impossible, a new law in Arizona defines pregnancy as beginning two weeks before conception. By that definition, I may be pregnant right now and I don’t even have one of those things you’re not allowed to say in the Michigan legislature.
The most ridiculous scandal of the year involved contraception. The rules of the new health care law require that employers provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. Religious employers were exempted, but only for their religious employees, like priests and nuns. Employees of religious charities, such as doctors and nurses in nonprofit hospitals, are to be covered under the law.
This policy had been in place at the state level without controversy for years. But this year, conservatives suddenly decided that it was an attack on religious freedom if they were required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees who may not even share their religious views.
Newt Gingrich went so far as to say that if re-elected, President Obama would declare war on the Catholic Church. Republicans in congress held hearings with male-only witness panels. When the Democrats invited a contraception advocate to speak, Republicans decided she had nothing worthy to say and kept her off the panel.
Rush Limbaugh went further, calling the advocate a slut and a prostitute for wanting contraceptive coverage. When criticized, he doubled down, saying that she was asking us to pay for her to have sex, so she should make a sex tape so we could all watch — Limbaugh later apologized after advertisers started dropping his show.
To continue, in Indiana, a bill to require drug testing of welfare recipients was withdrawn after an amendment was added to include lawmakers in the testing.
Easily the most cynicism-inducing news item this year was both sexual and local. Gerardo Hernandez was voted out as mayor of Sunland Park, N.M. after a video surfaced of him receiving a topless lap dance in his office.
But, the new mayor-elect, Daniel Salinas, was unable to take office. He was banned from city hall after having been arrested on extortion charges. It turns out that he sent the topless dancer to Hernandez’s office in an effort to force him from the race.
You know, for once, I think I agree with George W. Bush. This year, he said of politics “I crawled out of the swamp and I’m not crawling back in.”
Enough cynicism for now. Next week, I’ll discuss the cure for it, if I can find one.
Michael Carley is a resident of Porterville. He can be reached at email@example.com.