Dear Mr. Greitens,
This morning, at the gym, I got on the treadmill, switched on the tv monitor, plugged in my headphones, just in time to catch one your campaign ads. It prompted me to write, to ask a couple of questions. Clarification seems in order.
Several years ago you founded the Mission Continues as a community activist agency and I was very impressed. I thought, this guy has a lot going, and when rumors began to circulate that you might run for governor, I thought here’s a Republican I could vote for. I know there are Republicans worth my vote, they just seem overwhelmed by those who aren’t. You, I thought at the time, were an exception.
Then I saw your ad.
Not the first one, the one you pulled, on the shooting range. An ill-conceived mistake, taken away. Not a message appropriate to the people served by Mission Continues. No, not that one. The one in which you are looking at the camera, dark background, and earnestly telling us your positions.
I was very disappointed.
You preface your claim to be “Pro-life, pro-gun” but declaring your belief that Obama is the worst president ever. Or at least in your lifetime. Granted that you’re only 42, which means your first opportunity to vote for a president would have been Bill Clinton, so as an active participant you don’t have much to choose from—three presidents. But as someone aspiring to office I would expect you to have a better grasp of history than such a statement shows.
Worst president ever? By what metric?
I hear that from people who hate Obama. I look at them and while I can understand the emotionalism I cannot understand on what basis they make that claim. Granted, most of them are not running for office. They have not seen much of the world. They do not have the experiences you have. Most of them do not have a degree from Oxford nor have had your first-class education from Parkway to UMSL. History is a foreign language to most Americans, but I expect people who aspire to high office to know better.
I have yet to hear one thing that merits such an assessment about Obama.
Now, there are many things you might have said which would not have sparked my reaction. Had you said you think he is a middling or even mediocre president, I might quibble, but fair enough. It’s a complex office, context matters, and mileage varies. I might disagree (I do) but I can respect an assessment like that. It indicates a degree of thought went into it. However, a blanket “worst ever” is nothing but political bombast irrespective of reality.
It is not what I expected from you.
So I repeat: by what metric? Because based on the metrics Republicans usually use to claim success for their own, Obama is a raging success.
Therein lies the problem. If I thought Republicans were critical of the situation that boasts an unemployment rate that disregards those chronically unemployed who simply have fallen off the roles, then I might listen. If I thought Republicans were critical of trade deals that injured American job prospects even though the stock market shows the economy booming, I might listen. We could go on, but you see my point. The fact is, Republicans—at least those in office—are not critical of those things and if under the same circumstances one of them were in the White House with these numbers, they would be hailing that president as the second coming of Lincoln. So it has nothing to do with what Obama has done. By their own metrics, he should be lauded.
But he’s the wrong man for that, isn’t he? For a number of reasons.
That kind of cheap denigration should be beneath you.
I repeat, by what metric? Explain to me what he has done that has been so terrible that you would take the opportunity to craft an ad for your campaign that leads with that cheap shot?
And then I have to ask, compared to who?
Because if we’re going to dig into the box of history, we can come up with several far worse, including but not limited to Obama’s predecessor.
Memories are short. Politicians rely on that. People forget.
But let me move on. Your next claim. “Pro-life, Pro-gun.” Do you have any idea how that sounds to reasonable people? It is oxymoronic, a logical inconsistency. You are pro-life in support of the personal means to take life.
I know that’s not what you meant, not exactly. You’re playing to an audience. People who don’t like abortion and think someone is about to take their guns away, which they need to protect themselves from people hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Because in spite of what we see on television and on Facebook and hear from the pulpits of jingoistic opportunists, crime is on a downturn in this country. Things have gotten better over the last few decades. So feeding the myth that everyone needs their firearm because the crazed bad guys are coming through their doors any minute is just irresponsible nonsense. This is the politics of fear and completely inconsistent with the Greitens of Mission Continues.
As for the pro-life part, that is pure emotionalism wrapped up in a bundle of distracting falsehood. You want to cut back abortions, then you do something to provide women with the means to manage their own fertility. Birth control, sex education, and empowerment. We have the proof that these are things that work. It is not guesswork, not wishful thinking. Make birth control available, provide for comprehensive sex education at an early age, stop shaming people for their private lives, unwanted pregnancy goes down.
Defunding Planned Parenthood is the exact opposite of policies that work.
This is not opinion. We have seen it work. More, we have seen the abysmal, tragic failure of so-called Abstinence Only education.
Nothing in your c.v. to date would have suggested to me that taking a principled stand based on fact and reality would bother you. Was I wrong?
As to the gun stuff. Please. Reasonable measures to keep weapons from easy access to people who clearly should not have them would not, in any sane world, constitute an infringement on anyone’s rights.
But a lot of people are having their rights infringed by the thoughtless support of public policies that see birth control as somehow worse than murder or suicide.
So what happened? Did someone talk to you and explain that if you wanted to be governor you would have to tow the party line? Did someone point out that if you took reasonable stands on these things, the party would not back you? Did someone show you how all this requires money and those who have it don’t like politicians who think for themselves? Was there such a conversation?
Because I am very disappointed. The GOP has been pushing the same set of policies now since Reagan inaugurated the age of fear-based religious-driven right-wing powermongering and we have seen, repeatedly, how they do not work. Every time the GOP gets its hands on enough power and authority, the average person suffers. Wages go down because of the anti-union assaults. Teen pregnancy goes up because money dries up for education and clinics. Jobs vanish because deals are brokered with WalMarts and their ilk. Tax revenues disappear and infrastructure decays.
Oh, sure, these things happen under Democrats, too. But we just see them as bad at their jobs and eventually vote them out. Republicans seem to have embraced this stuff as if it had been handed down on tablets from the mountain.
Even as strategy, this makes no sense. You are appealing to a shrinking demographic. A frightened, shrinking demographic that responds to the charge that our president is the worst ever based on nothing but confirmation bias.
It’s a cheap strategy. I would have thought you above that kind of thing.
I guess not.