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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Debra Medina and Farouk Shami have done Texans a favor by proving themselves unqualified

From an AP report printed in today's Houston Chronicle:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, reeling from her remarks that questioned whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on Friday blamed the ensuing firestorm on a "coordinated attack" that she speculated came from the campaigns of her better-known GOP rivals.

Medina also predicted "more of this" in her race against Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. She said there are no "high-profile kinds of scandals in my life that really are going to get people something to chew on. So they're going to have to make some things up."

"The political games we saw beginning to be played yesterday serve nothing but a diversion," she said, denying that her news conference in Houston — during which some questions were posed by Medina campaign staff seated among reporters — was an effort at damage control. "No. This is continuing doing what we've been doing, campaigning hard for months."

In response to a question Thursday from nationally syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck, Medina said there were "some very good arguments" that the U.S. was involved in the 2001 attacks that took down the World Trade Center and killed some 3,000 people. "I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there, so I have not taken a position on that," she said.

Medina also has told a Dallas TV station that besides her questions about 9/11, she similarly has questions about Barack Obama's birth certificate (meaning his constitutional eligibility to be President).

According to the same AP report, the candidate who trails Bill White in the polls for the Democratic Party's nomination (but could also make a run-off if White pulls less than 50%) has also jumped aboard the grand conspiracies bandwagon:

On the Democratic side, gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami said Friday he also had questions about the involvement of the federal government in the terrorist attacks, saying "maybe there is no smoke without fire."

"We still don't know who killed John F. Kennedy, who's behind it," Shami said during an interview with Dallas television station WFAA. "Will we ever find the truth about 9/11?

"It's hard to make judgments. I'm not saying yes or no, because I don't know the truth."

Those aren't just wrong answers, they're disqualifying answers. Public servants, to be effective at all, must be able to make good judgments. Indeed, they must be able to make good judgments even with less than perfect and complete information. And that's especially true of those in the executive branches of government.

As a mere blogger, I've tried hard to avoid making a snap judgment about Debra Medina, in part because I think GOP politics have gotten sclerotic, and because I believe we desperately need new talent that's genuinely committed to old values.

Debra Medina wasn't ever likely to get my vote, though: I was too troubled at the complete absence of any record of prior public service from which we might conclude that she is qualified to do the job required of the governor of Texas. It didn't matter to me how good a game she talked, because there's a complete absence of any proof that she's competent at the most basic level to undertake the task of governing.

But Medina's political self-immolation over the last few days now leads me to affirmatively recommend, for whatever that might be worth and to whoever's reading, that conservative Texans vote against her. I don't much care whether you vote for Hutchison or Perry. Just don't waste your vote on this kook.

It's not just a distraction, but a willful and malicious waste of political energy to fight over Barack Obama's birth certificate at this point, folks. It's water that's not only already flowed under the bridge, it's evaporated out of the river, floated across the continent, turned back into rainfall, and been soaked up into growing crops that have already been harvested, eaten, and excreted. When there are so very many legitimate and genuinely urgent concerns about Barack Obama and what he's doing as President, I'd rather not hear another freaking word about his birth certificate — not from anyone, not for any purpose, and most especially not from someone who is seeking my vote for service as a public official.

But the Truther stuff is far worse, at least as I judge things. For a public figure who wishes to be taken seriously, it's not enough to merely admit that radical Islamic terrorists flew the planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon; it is offensive and a mark of derangement to pretend that it's an open question whether the U.S. government was in any way complicit, either actively or through deliberate and knowing inaction, in the 9/11 attacks. State governors have serious public safety responsibilities. We can't afford to have in charge of the Texas National Guard, the Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Rangers someone who, as Texas state senator (and conservative radio host) Dan Patrick has reported (h/t Ace), thinks there's something suspicious about how policeman but not firemen were able to escape from the Twin Towers before they came down.

Medina's attempt to cast blame on her opponents for this kerfuffle is pathetic. Of course her opponents will make the most use they can of her screw-up — Hutchison because Medina had become perceived as a threat to knock her out of second place, Perry because he hopes he might squeak in with a majority and avoid a run-off. With this Obama-like refusal to accept responsibility, Medina has compounded her original offenses and further demonstrated her lack of political stature.

Similarly, insisting that she's just vindicating the public's right "to ask questions" is entirely disingenuous. "I support free speech, including the right to espouse crackpot positions," one can say. But this sort of wink and nudge and phrasing of ridiculous accusations as "mere questions" can fool no one.

I don't blame anyone who's been taken in by either Medina or Shami. But I can't excuse or understand anyone who still sticks with them. It's time to re-think, and to realize that you've been looking at your candidate through the political equivalent of beer goggles.

No, one can't play footsie with the Truthers and the Birthers and expect to be a serious candidate. Anyone who can't see that lacks the minimal basic judgment necessary to hold a public office. Debra Medina and Farouk Shami have done Texans a favor by confirming that they're not serious candidates, not even for purposes of casting a "protest vote." It's time for these two to return to the political obscurity whence they came.

Posted by Beldar at 09:12 AM in 2010 Election, Politics (2010), Politics (Texas) | Permalink


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(1) retire05 made the following comment | Feb 13, 2010 2:49:59 PM | Permalink

Thanks Beldar, for saying what needed to be said. Flags were raised for me when I learned that Medina had been on the Alex Jones show six times. No one, who is serious about being the head of a state like Texas should have anything to do with that lunatic, Jones.

Another thing bothered me: when Medina made her [ever so stupid] statement on Glen Beck's show, all my favorite Texas bloggers saw a barrage of remarks in the comnment sections that could have only come from the radicals that were part of the Ron Paul campaign. Now, I know Dr. Paul, and his knowledge of the U.S. Constitution (even according to Tom DeLay) is surpassed by no one. But he draws a crowd of lunatics. And they seemingly have flocked to Medina.

Medina has also claimed Texas Tea Party support, yet when I emailed the head of the Austin Tea Party Patriots, she replied that they (the ATPP) were not supporting any one candidate.

Medina should just drop out. Go home and write a book entitled "How To Destroy A Campaign In Five Quick Minutes".

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Feb 14, 2010 12:15:15 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Great summary. I'd add that cranks like Medina only obscure real questions, e.g. why on earth didn't Geo. W. can Freeh of the FBI, Tenet of the CIA and maybe a bunch of others on 12 September, just as Admiral Kimmel and General Short were canned within two weeks of Pearl Harbor?

As to the Birthers, they are idiotic. The reason there are questions about the absence of a long form birth certificate is not so much the hidden infor on the long form, but beccause the withholding is part of the pattern of obsessive secrecy The One has for his personal information. Where are his college transcripts for Occidental and Columbia? Or his transcripts for Harvard Law? His records as an Illinois State Senator? His medical records beyond the one page "Obama's health is good" letter that was released? Let the Birthers get those records released, and it's hugely likely that the details will change the climate enough to get the long form released. That way they would be productive instead of irritating. Myself I think the odds are 100 to 1 that The One was born in Hawaii, in the town and on the date he said he was. But so long as The One can rely on the corrupt liberal bigots in the press to keep on smearing, he'll keep the long form locked up, smirking and smiling because he's succeeding at what he does best.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(3) Insufficiently Sensitive made the following comment | Feb 14, 2010 12:03:38 PM | Permalink

we desperately need new talent that's genuinely committed to old values.

Agreed about the sclerotics. Re those 'old values' - they're not 'old', and even Obama preaches them insincerely, when he's pandering. Rather, they're practical, and universal, and have been so since long before the statist mania for enforced collectivism reared its head. Even citizens of collectivist states practice them for their (limited) private cash-only affairs, under the radar of Big Brother.

But whatever we call them, agree wholeheartedly about finding candidates who can articulate them - Scott Brown being the most recent success.

[I write this a day after attending a Rep. caucus in the Seattle area. Except for three or four bright young PCOs, it was like a ship whose crew had left it two years ago, mere momentum taking it toward the horizon, or the rocks.]

(4) Mike G in Corvallis made the following comment | Feb 15, 2010 6:11:18 AM | Permalink

I'm definitely not trying to excuse Debra Medina, but does this ring a bell?

"I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far, which is nothing more than a theory, I can't — think it can't be proved, is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now, who knows what the real situation is, but the trouble is that by suppressing that kind of information, you lead to those kinds of theories, whether they have any truth to them or not, and then eventually they get repeated as fact."

-- Howard Dean, describing a claim that President George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 attack ahead of time.

And Howard Dean was the head of the DNC ...

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 15, 2010 11:31:47 AM | Permalink

Yes, it rings a bell; Howard Dean is also a fruitcake.

And yes, that certainly does not excuse Debra Medina.

(6) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | Feb 15, 2010 11:34:56 AM | Permalink

And Howard Dean was the head of the DNC ...

And a comparison to Howard Dean benefits her how?!!


(7) Mike G in Corvallis made the following comment | Feb 15, 2010 4:42:54 PM | Permalink

And a comparison to Howard Dean benefits her how?!!

Well, I don't think it does. Beldar's right -- they're both fruitcakes.

If there's a lesson here, it's that one side tends to disavow its fruitcakes, the other side embraces them.

(8) Tom Kimmel made the following comment | Feb 19, 2010 6:11:51 AM | Permalink

Gregory Koster,
Admiral Kimmel's predecessor at Pearl Harbor, Admiral J. O. Richardson, may have an answer to your question, why did FDR can Kimmel and Short?
"When President Roosevelt realized the extent of the damage done by the attack on Pearl Harbor, he lost his nerve and lost his head, and ordered the convening of the Roberts Commission, believing that he could best protect his own position by focusing public attention on Pearl Harbor.”(On the Treadmill to Pearl Harbor, the Memoirs of Admiral J.O. Richardson,1973,p.455.)

Perhaps this contributed to FDR's hasty decision:
On December 7, 1941 the President of the United States was asked: “How did the Japanese catch us with our pants down?” The Congress of the United States later asked: “one enigmatical and paramount question . . . . [w]hy was it possible for a Pearl Harbor to occur?” On December 11, 1941, the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, thought he had the answer and sent it to the President immediately: Army and Navy Intelligence in Washington, DC had learned the entire Japanese attack plan days before the attack, and sent it to Admiral Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, who did nothing about it.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Owen Roberts, Chairman of the Roberts Commission, the tribunal immediately appointed to investigate the Pearl Harbor disaster, tried but could not prove that Kimmel had this information and failed to act on it. But then Roberts put blinders on and failed to follow Mr. Hoover’s logically suggested written investigative leads in Washington, D.C., as to whether this information was available in Washington and simply not sent to Hawaii. And then later, Roberts inexplicably lied to Congress about where he got the original allegation against Kimmel.
Tom Kimmel

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