Rekha Basu: They have different
standards for their own
Sep. 25 desmoinesregister.com
Congressman Steve King was asked last week about his blanket opposition to animal-protection laws — including ones to discourage the bloody, and borderline sadistic, practices of cock-fighting and dog-fighting. He fumbled around about existing federal and state laws being sufficient, then segued to this pet-dog story:
“I also should tell you that I’m down there trying to solve a problem with my dry well yesterday, and it’s a long way from the house. And here comes our Labrador retriever, all the way down, with a tennis ball in her mouth. And I said, ‘Say Roz, I’m only human,’ and I don’t understand what she wants. And she wanted to play fetch, and I wanted to fix my well.”
It was unclear what message to derive from that, other than that the Republican, in a re-election battle against Democrat Christie Vilsack, has a cute dog who picks inopportune times to play. King concluded, “We love our pets as much as anybody does.”
What difference does that make?
Candidates have flaunted their fine domestic lives this campaign season. We’ve heard from King’s wife, Marilyn, what a good listener he is; from Vilsack about her seven-layer salad; and from Tom Latham about his grandbaby. But what matters to voters isn’t how much they love their families or pets. It’s how they would treat other people’s spouses, children and animals in the policies they espouse. That’s where double standards show up.
When asked about the plight of struggling single mothers, for example, King said they should start their own businesses, like his wife did, adding, “She had a supportive husband, true.” Single mothers, of course, have no husband, supportive or otherwise, to bring in another paycheck or share the child care.
On the same day that he told our editorial board existing state laws for animals are sufficient, King boasted to a Franklin County debate audience that he had tried to void state and local animal-protection laws. “I offered amendments to the farm bill,” King declared. “Some of them I don’t want to bring to the attention of the opposition.”
You don’t even have to catch some candidates in their hypocrisy. They offer it up themselves. Still, Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” reference, which hit the airwaves last week, hit a nerve. The secretly recorded remarks at a Florida fundraiser confirmed what many Americans suspected about him: that his concern extends only to people like himself. Those who depend on some form of government assistance, in his view, see themselves as victims and are not worth his effort to try to win over.
Romney’s otherwise likable wife, Ann, struggled in Iowa to change that impression of her husband. But even inadvertently, the Romneys can’t seem to stop highlighting their sense of entitlement. During a pre-caucus debate in Iowa, Mitt tried to bet Rick Perry $10,000, the way most of us would wager a buck or two. On Thursday in Clive, Ann declared, “There’s no other way to watch a football game than in a BarcaLounger.” For most Americans, there has to be another way than in the high-end recliner sold at the upscale furniture store that hosted her visit.
She said her husband cares about those who are “being disenfranchised and slipping into poverty,” but offered no supporting evidence of that caring by way of policies or programs for those groups. Actually, much of the current disenfranchisement taking place in America has been orchestrated by members of Romney’s own party to keep new Americans from voting Democratic.
Maybe the most telling disconnect between the Romneys’ reality and the rest of America’s was Ann talking of the great opportunities Mitt gave their well-traveled, well-educated, highly successful sons, without a word about making those opportunities, like paying for college, available to others.
Being wealthy isn’t the problem. The problem is the attitude, “I got mine. You’re on your own,” which goes for all the other dogs, all the other mothers, all the other children.