Littwin: Winning the coveted Cliven Bundy vote
If Cliven Bundy is feeling abandoned, he should come to Colorado.
If he’s looking for someone who is apparently not all that appalled by his slavery-was-good-for-the-Negro theory, he should come to Colorado.
If he wants to live in a state where he can ignore whatever federal laws he chooses and needs a governor to bail him out, he should get on the first bus to Colorado.
If he needs defending from the feds, and he can’t count on his militia buddies to show up, come — please, come — to Colorado.
The “slavery was good for the Negro” Nevada rancher has been abandoned by Rand Paul, Dean Heller and much of Fox News. But he’s got at least three friends left in Colorado — all of them running for governor in the Republican primary.
He’s got a friend here. Actually, he’s got at least three friends here. These guys are either incredibly loyal, incredibly shameless or just incredibly out of touch.
Sure, Paul and Heller have abandoned Bundy. Yes, much of Fox News, which is to Bundy as CNN is to Flight 370, seems to have abandoned him, too. And even Sean Hannity would abandon him — conceding that Bundy’s ideas on race were “repugnant” and had threatened to “brand” his supporters (see above) as, well, ignorant.
It was over for Bundy in just 13 words, when he said to a crowd of supporters and, as it turned out, a New York Times reporter, “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.” The revolution was stopped in its tracks, in embarrassment, in humiliation. The anti-government rhetoric would have to cool down ever so slightly — didn’t we learn anything from the jack-booted thugs/Timothy McVeigh era? — and the Doomsday clock might have moved back a few seconds.
The quote is so raw, so wrong-headed and so ignorant that, you’d be sure, it cannot be ignored. Listen: “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
If you had a friend who said that, wouldn’t you have to rethink your relationship?
Not if you’re Bob Beauprez. Or Mike Kopp. Or Scott Gessler.
The three came to a 9News debate Thursday. (Tom Tancredo doesn’t debate because he’s Tom Tancredo.) They were asked what they thought about Bundy and the showdown over grazing fees and federal land. Did they consider Bundy a “patriot,” as some have called him, or did they agree with Harry Reid that he was a “domestic terrorist?”
Each took the question. Each took a shot at Reid. And each chose not to mention the race issue. Yeah, I was puzzled, too. Had they missed the news? Do they believe the ugly stereotype about Republicans and race? Did they really think that this was the time to get on the Bundy bandwagon? Didn’t any of them call Hannity for advice?
Here’s what they said instead.
Beauprez conceded Bundy is “not without fault,” although he didn’t mention what the faults might be. Beauprez was too worried about the fact that since he now has his own ranch that the feds could do the same thing in Colorado “because I think government has gone completely mad.” He not only thinks that government has gone mad and has overreacted, but also that “it looks like martial law has broken out.” He didn’t mention Bundy’s views on race. And he didn’t mention the militias. And he didn’t mention the guy who said they ought to put the women out front in case the feds shoot because imagine the good press they’d get.
Kopp conceded that Bundy should have paid his fees, but he notes that 70 federal agencies have armed police officers. He added, “I’m not sure why the federal government needs to have that kind of armed force against its own citizens.” So, apparently cops are armed against the citizenry, and Kopp wants fewer guns for everyone except all the people who aren’t cops. He does have a solution, in which he’d put himself “between the citizens of the state and the federal government” to advocate “for the freedoms of the people of my state.” He didn’t mention Bundy’s theory on freedom and slaves. He didn’t mention the militias. He didn’t mention the guy with the women in front.
You’d figure that Gessler, the former federal prosecutor, would stand up for the rule of law. But, uh, no. He was worried more about government restraint, even if he doesn’t seem that restrained about his own government office going after would-be (but rarely, in fact, are) fraudulent voters. He said what the “Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies” are “looking to do is to hammer people instead of work with them …” He admitted Bundy “has his own problems,” but said that “no one should have treated him the way he was treated.” He didn’t mention slavery. He didn’t mention the militias. He didn’t mention that other guy.
In summary, these people who want to be your governor seemed entirely unconcerned about someone bringing in his militia buddies to fight off the feds, whom he says he doesn’t recognize as legitimate.
Or if they were concerned about it, they forgot to mention it. It could be that they were just preoccupied with making sure not to mention, under any circumstances, that their pal was a racist crank.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in The Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, he currently writes for ColoradoIndependent.com.
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The past sneaks up on us in the strangest of ways, and I don’t mean bounty hunters flashing those “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in our faces.