Election 2012

Why Is Kucinich So Weird?

Via John Cole, here's Glenn Greenwald's defense of Dennis Kucinich:

Both the Prospect and Post recite the trite case demonstrating Kucinich’s supposed weirdness. He’s friends with Shirley McLaine, who believes in reincarnation, and he once (according to McLaine) claimed to have an encounter with a UFO. Is any of that really any more strange than the litany of beliefs which the world’s major religions require? Is Barack Obama “wacky” because he claims to believe that Jesus turned water into wine, rose from the dead and will soon welcome him to heaven? Is Chuck Schumer bizarre because he seems to believe that there’s some big fatherly figure sitting in the sky who spewed fire and brimstone at those who broke the laws he sent down on some stones and now hovers over him judging his every move? Is Harry Reid a weirdo because he apparently venerates as divine the “visions” of a man who had dozens of wives, including some already married to other men?

First, I'm getting a little tired of the left's ongoing effort to marginalize religious people (minus fringe zealots who deserve what they get). While I'm not religious myself, a larger-than-you-think number of liberals are, and I've always believed that as long as religion and secular government remain separate, I don't care who or what you believe.

Anyway, I don't think he's weird, but any respect I had for him went out the door when he, 1) joined the Worse Than Bush meme, and 2) when he sued the congressional cafeteria because he bit into an olive and -- shocker! -- there was a pit inside.

And this doesn't have much to do with Kucinich himself, but I also think his supporters are crazy to believe he could actually govern without compromising his progressivism if perchance a miracle happened and he was elected to the presidency. He would've either been totally ineffectual, which would have meant disaster for the country, or he would've been forced to compromise with the Republicans and conservadems in order to pass something resembling a legislative agenda.

  • Michael Schwartz

    I always wanted Kerry or Obama to run with Kucinich’s Dept. of Peace idea. An agency that would provide bicycles and repair manuals around the world. Among other things.

    On a different thought, I think we have to start focusing on legislators, and take the emphasis off of the presidency. At this point, though it is not a lock, I am pretty sure Obama has this election in the bag (insert counterpoint here). OK, but he is going to need a Big D congress to continue the work he has been doing. So where are the vulnerable House and Senate seats that we need to pay attention to to get past the 60 vote barrier?

  • MarshallLucky

    Atheism has lost a lot of its moral center in recent years. It used to be about rejecting bigoted superstition in favor of a rich, tolerant humanism that embraced all peoples. Now all too often it’s about feeling superior to the great stupid unwashed. That’s a problem on the left in general these days and one of the big sources of the disconnect between rural Americans and left-wing policies. Even if you agree with left-wing positions on most issues, you’re not likely to side with people who delight in mocking your religion, ridiculing your lifestyle and referring to your area of the country as “Dumbfuckistan.” The religion bit was the weakest part of the Greenwald piece, even if his point about which “wacky” beliefs are deemed acceptable by the media is worth mentioning.

    Kucinich is a perfect example of why true leftist candidates find it impossible to get national traction in this country. From the stupid UFO meme to the disingenuous bullshit about the olive, the media has bent over backward to emphasize every eccentric aspect of Kucinich’s personality and career at every turn. He was a genuine and passionate voice for liberalism on the national stage, and allowing these dumbassed stereotypes to color our judgement of him now that he’s out of the picture is pretty damn unfair. Why not remember all the good things he stood for, like (gasp!) peace, accountability for Bush’s lawless reign, strong environmental policy, the rights of workers and the poor?

    It’s incredibly disheartening to see Democrats tittering over his political corpse like a bunch of damned conservatives.

  • Brutlyhonest

    I don’t care if people are religious – any religion – as long as they don’t try to force it on me. Legislating based on religious belief IS forcing it on me.

    Religious people have marginalized themselves by aligning with the republican party and demonstrating abject hypocrisy.

  • mrbrink

    Yeah, I’ve been done with atheist snobbery, although I appreciate the push back. But some people go way too far out of the way to be better-than-you dicks about it. Just makes the meek meeker, in my opinion, and the authoritarian wackaloons more entrenched.

    Those claiming to see a UFO and Liberal Progressive Christianity should never have to stand shoulder to shoulder in a general statement deriding one to legitimize the odd principles of the other. What a dick move. And poor reasoning for Glenn Greenwald, as usual. No mention of those who believe Justice Elena Kagan and everyone else is an usurping O-bot apologist? I think UFO sightings and O-Bot sightings have more in common. That’s probably where Greenwald’s sympathies and half-assed defense comes from. He, too, sees Unidentified Flying Obama’s everywhere!

    I’ve always liked Pascal’s wager. It’s sort of my quiet philosophy when it comes to peoples’ faith in a God.

    But the question we have to ask is, would Jesus have sued that olive pit, too? Greenwald suggests, “yes!” and backs it up like a true failure of enlightenment.

    I’ve always thought the story of Billy Meier was the most fascinating, even if I’ve never seen a UFO for myself, or do not subscribe to the best video evidence. From personal experience, I believe I’ve seen more of the existence of God in the skies than UFOs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

      mrbrink, I appreciate your argument and Pascal’s wagering on the ‘favorite,’ so to speak, but if the Christian God who ‘knows all and sees all’ exists, then that god would know your faith was a matter of expedience. Moreover, wouldn’t that god also know if you arrived at your atheism or agnosticism by sincere logical reasoning and also know the ‘ravening wolves’ who preach faith but inwardly are rank hypocrites? Which one would end up in that god’s hell? In the New Testament, I think in James, it says ‘faith without acts is dead.’ Jesus also implored his followers to ‘do as I say.’ If you try to live a good humane life as an atheist would you really be refused a place in some heaven beyond life while a slimy hypocrite who mouthed the words but followed his greed was admitted simply because he was ‘born again’ and ‘repented’ for his life of evil after enjoying the proceeds? Such a god would be vain and stupid and, worse, unjust. In that case, as Robert Burns wrote, isn’t it better “to be an atheist clean,;than under gospel colors hid be; just for a screen”?

    • JMAshby

      “Unidentified Flying Obama’s”

      Should trademark that as soon as possible.

  • rgbyref

    I’ve always disliked him because of the stupid “Department of Peace” idea.

  • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

    GG is a great example of the arrogant left when it comes to religion. I’m not religious at all but I think if you should be tolerant of everyone’s beliefs if they don’t hurt anyone else.

    • Scopedog

      Exactly. I’m a lapsed Catholic, but I think that Isaac Asimov, an atheist, said it best: One of the things he loved most about America was that we have the right to believe–or not to believe.

      GG’s arrogance and poo-flinging at President Obama’s religion in defense of Kucinich also ignores the fact that Kucinich went to Syria last year and basically sucked up to Assad (when Assad started cracking down on protestors in earnest), and also made the claim that NATO was the real villain in Libya, not Khadaffi’s forces.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

      Of course, it is difficult to be tolerant of another’s belief if their belief is that you are advancing Satan’s agenda on Earth and should be jailed. Even if they follow that with “no offense intended; just telling God’s truth,” it’s pretty hard to be tolerant of such people because I do think they mean me harm. Not that I want to silence them; just keep them out of gov’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

    One thing Kucinich doesn’t have is an ‘ear’ for politics, however progressively ‘pure’ his heart may be. The stunt of singing “16 Tons” at a public event was as odd and embarrassing as Mitt Romney singing the Davy Crockett theme song, and going on about being a Vegan in an interview in 2008, rather than changing the subject to something more important, only served to make him look strange to many. And you’re right — like Ralph Nader, it would be impossible for a President Kucinich to get anything done, especially in today’s toxic climate in Washington. Does Dennis really believe he can get universal health care or a Dept. of Peace passed through Congress just because he’s in the White House? It’s magical thinking worthy of a Republican.

  • D_C_Wilson

    I know he’s revered by many on the left, but I’ve never really cared for Kucinich. It’s not because he saw a UFO, or at least something in the sky he couldn’t identify (which is what the actual definition of a UFO is), although suing the cafeteria over an olive pit was pretty asinine. To me though, he’s the left’s equivalent of Ron Paul: He gets to spout off against the party establishment precisely because he’s staked out the position of an outsider. But this is also why, despite the wet dreams of many, he’ll never become president: He’s too far outside the party’s power structure.

    And Bob is right, should either Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich actually become president, they’d have to either compromise their deeply-held principles and thus alienate their core supporters or they would become he most ineffective chief executive in US history.

    • DD1946

      “Excerpt DK’s response
      Full response http://kucinich.us/index.php

      This injury required nearly two years, three dental surgeries, and a substantial amount of money to rectify.

      I wanted to resolve this matter without filing a lawsuit. The dental injury set in motion a chain of dental and medical events. This was not about aesthetics. The internal structure of the tooth was rendered nonrestorable. Although the pain was excruciating, I shook it off and I went right back to work.

      The injured tooth and the bone above it became infected. I took a course of antibiotics …had an adverse reaction … which caused … an intestinal obstruction and emergency medical intervention.

      … a specialist who informed me that the damaged tooth had to be removed. A third dentist removed the tooth and I was fitted for a temporary partial. I waited for the bone to heal. An implant was placed, but it failed… later still a second implant succeeded. … this injury did not affect only one tooth, but rather involved six (6) replacement teeth as well. A new crown with a new precision attachment was engineered and put in place.

      To clarify, no dental expenses were covered by any health plan, nor did I have dental insurance that covered the injury, which, until it was resolved, affected my ability to chew food properly.

      The terms of the settlement are confidential; however, I feel that the defendants have responded fairly and reasonably.”

      I suspect that you would have sued too if you were hurt this badly and had no insurance. I suggest it’s a good idea to check some facts before running off at the mouth.

      • D_C_Wilson

        Well, thank you for the information.

        Of course, it’s always important to ignore the main point of a post and focus on a minor side comment and then end with a snotty personal attack.

        • DD1946

          Wouldn’t you agree that it’s important to know what you are talking about before you speak? Didn’t you say this— “although suing the cafeteria over an olive pit was pretty asinine”? It’s only “asinine” if you have no idea what the circumstances were…. which brings us back around to the need to know what you are talking about before speaking. Getting info really isn’t all that hard.

          • D_C_Wilson

            Of course I think it’s important to know what you’re talking about.

            But you’re still ignoring the main point in that it’s not necessary to be snotty about it.

  • Jill O. Stanevich

    And having seen a “UFO” or “UAP,” I don’t think it makes you weird, imho.

  • Jill O. Stanevich

    typo in the headline… “weird”