Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
One small, lost lesson from the debate stage that's bad news for all of us
I don’t know where to begin.
Often, Ryan Walters offers column fodder before the end of the week and it’s not like he didn’t this one.
Thursday, for some reason, he and his state board of education asked for $47.1 million less than it received this year, which is a very strange thing indeed.
From the reporting of the great Scott Carter, finally with a wide audience as The Oklahoman’s new chief political reporter, it appears legislative leaders and even Kevin Stitt himself didn’t know it was coming.
Check it out here.
That and Walters continues to rail against indoctrination, which is a funny thing, too, given his want to put Prager U materials into the classroom as he continues claiming that whole separation of church and state thing to be a sham.
But I don’t have it in me.
He’s worn me out.
For a week, at least.
Speaking of Stitt, who has a tendency to blunder into this space, he’s earned at least 800 good words explaining just how horrendous, as a general matter and to his political agenda, too, his continuing war with the tribes has become.
Remember when he appointed Wes Nofire to the post of state liaison for Native American affairs? Well, Nofire has not fired, or perhaps he’s been fired, given the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee and Seminole nations’ formal disapproval of his appointment.
But I can’t go there either.
My head’s not there.
Really, all I have have is how the clown show Wednesday night Republican debate put together by Fox Business left me feeling, which is not about one person but the horrid health of our body politic.
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It’s better when there’s a villain, the writing, but all I have is lament.
Maybe you, too.
Dana Perino asked Florida governor Ron DeSantis about continuing to fund the Ukrainian war effort, noting $76 billion has already been spent.
DeSantis, it turned out, had no time at all to spend on war and peace and Russia’s existential threat to the functioning world order.
Instead, he had an issue that needed returning to, because he couldn’t go 10 seconds without reminding driven-by-fear Republican primary voters he’s just as crazy as they are.
He said this:
It’s in our interest to end this war, and that's what I will do as president. We are not going to have a blank check. We will not have U.S. troops.
We’re going to make the Europeans do what they need to do, but they’ve sent money to pay bureaucrats’ pensions and salaries and funding small businesses halfway around the world.
Meanwhile, our own country is being invaded. We don’t even have control of our own territory. We have got to defend the American people before we even worry about all these other things.
I watch these guys in Washington, D.C., and they don’t care about the American people. They don’t care about the fentanyl deaths. They don’t care about the communities being overrun because of this border. They don’t care about the Mexican drug cartels. So, as commander in chief, I will defend this country’s sovereignty.
I was worried he wouldn’t defend our sovereignty.
I’m building to a point, but let’s go through the answer.
He’s going to “end” the war in Ukraine?
With that, the disingenuousness began.
The American president does not have a vote on when the war ends. An end to American and NATO support might hasten its ending, but the Ukrainians are the ones with the vote. But don’t worry, not for a second was DeSantis trying to tell you about his future Ukrainian policy. He was only interested in saying a few fast words and pivoting to the rest of his answer.
So, about that:
Really, we’re being invaded?
By Mexicans and Central and South Americans looking for a better life, running away from poverty, violence and strife. Our actual national security’s on the line on the southern border?
It’s messy down there, but if the same number of folks, and the fentanyl and drugs, too, were coming in from Canada, though still a mess needing fixing, there would be no outcry. Fox News and right wing media would not be using it to stoke the frightened passion it hopes to 1) produce greater ad sales and 2) elect more Republican officeholders, because without the race aspect, the fear from folks who can’t think for themselves or jettison their last racist vestige would not materialize.
And STILL that’s not the point of all this, because the point of all this is much simpler than deconstructing the motives of political candidates they themselves know to be demagoguery from the start.
This is the point:
As recently as Barack Obama’s first, and maybe second, run for the White House, the whole point of campaigning for that office and pretty much any other, was to demonstrate yourself to be the smartest, most able, most ready, most critically thinking, most determined and most everything else for the job.
It was the point of running.
It was a race to be trusted.
Now, as for one side of the aisle, at least, forget about it.
Not one of the Republicans on that stage, with the slight, slight, slight exception of Nikki Haley, is even trying to enlighten the electorate with their own enlightenment.
I mean, Chris Christie is coming after Donald Trump, which is good. Doug Burgum’s trying to tell you what he’s done in North Dakota, population 780,000, can be done in the whole country, population 334 million. Tim Scott’s doing whatever it is Tim Scott’s doing.
But what everybody’s really doing is screaming “Biden, Biden, Biden,” “China, China, China,” or “open border, open border, open border,” each trying to play the hits faster than anybody else can play them.
Who might be best in a crisis?
Nobody’s even trying to sell themselves that way.
It’s not where the votes are.
The Dems are holding on to the dream. The woke warriors and super wacky lefties are in the tent, but they can’t swing an election, even a primary election. Comportment, discipline, smarts and mental dexterity can still win the day.
It can’t be a race to the bottom.
It can’t be a race to the edges.
It can’t be a race to mirror the worst of us.
It has to be a race to lead.
But if the runners don’t want to …