The Diasporan Perspective By Ekerete Udoh
The Grand old Party-(GOP) otherwise known and famously called The Republican Party never seizes to amaze me. The party- a motley collection of disparate ideological potentates but united under a common galvanizing desire: to win elections and control the instrument of power advertises rather loudly its family values ethos and beliefs.
It sees itself as the sole repository of moral wisdom and eviscerates the Democrats for what it considers the values and moral deficits prevalent in that party. The evangelical wing of the party speaks in literal and exacting terms-always invoking the specter of Armageddon and lambasting the Democrats for its secular beliefs. Fidelity to marriage and living one’s life according to Biblical injunctions form part of the core of this key constituency in the GOP. Every GOP presidential hopeful grovels and genuflects before this important constituency. Late President Ronald Regan was said to have told this group in the run-up to his 1980 successful presidential run that he didn’t only need the group’s endorsement, but that his heart and soul endorses all that the group stands.
This wing of the Republican Party is unforgiving in its condemnation of people’s personal indiscretions and failings. Problem however, is the condemnation appears to be selective: If you are a Democrat and had committed a personal failing- an error of judgment, you will be tried, condemned and hung in the court of public opinion by this group and its media enablers. Ask ex-President Bill Clinton. In 1998, this group was the arrowhead in the campaign that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment over what was purely a personal failing by the president concerning the affair he had with the White House Intern-Monica Lewinsky.
The Republican members of the Congress egged on by the evangelical wing and-aided by the talk radio talkmeisters such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity among others amplified a purely personal event into a national and international issue, and succeeded in tarnishing the otherwise consequential presidency of Bill Clinton.
One of the most visible faces who exploited that unfortunate saga was Newt Gingrich-then the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Gingrich had told the world how despicable Bill Clinton’s conduct was, and how determined he was to ensure that he be impeached so as to “bring honor back to the Oval Office”-a phrase that later became the Republican’s electioneering slogan. Newt Gingrich it later was revealed, was at that time, also carrying on a tawdry affair with a Congressional aide-Callista who would later became his third wife. Call it the height of hypocrisy, I mean here was a man who in the daytime, adorned himself with the mantle of the enforcer of morality, of family values, while at the same time, according to the recent revelation of his then wife- was demanding an open marriage so that he could have the freedom to be with his then girlfriend-now wife, Callista.
Fifteen years later, and now running to become the president of the United States, and being confronted by CNN debate moderator-John King during the last debate in Charleston, South Carolina, Newt expressed such righteous indignation and anger over the CNN’s anchor’s chutzpah to ask him such demeaning question that he launched into the Republican’s standard portion of blaming their phantom bogeyman-the liberal media and their hatred for the Republicans. It was a bold and may I add, an effective rebuttal, which may have re-written the rules of engagement in politics by the media.
The question however, remains: Why is it always an issue when a Democrat is seen to have revealed a human weakness-especially in marital affairs, but with the Republicans, it becomes an issue that should fall under the zone of privacy-which the media should respect and stay away from? Why was Bill Clinton’s issue a galvanizing ingredient that the Republicans used in winning the 2000 presidential election, but in Newt’s case in 2012, the issue should be off-limits? Why are the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others who daily beat the drum of public opprobrium over Bill Clinton’s affair in 1998, now robustly defending-first Herman Cain and now Newt Gingrich over the same issue they had exploited so brazenly about 15 years ago? Are the Republicans held to a different standard when issues of morality and family values are concerned?
I have been shocked and confounded by this attitude by the Republican Party. First, it was Herman Cain whose alleged serial cheating eventually forced him to withdraw from the presidential race- an issue that the evangelical and right wing media did not think was morally objectionable, and now they have also rallied to the support of Newt Gingrich. It appears to me that sinners and those who display human weakness are located only in the Democratic Party and when caught, should be ridiculed before the court of public opinion. But if such weaknesses were to be found within the Republican Party, they should be forgiven and the muscularity of Christian forgiveness and redemption should be applied because they, being Republicans are human after all, unlike those depraved sexually charged ‘others’ who populate the Democratic Party.
I hope the strategists in the Democratic National Committee office are taking note of this. It should never be rationalized and accepted if a Republican revealed a human failing while the same standard is denied a Democrat when he, too is confronted by a human or character flaw. The media must take note of this too, so if in the future, a personal failing is discovered abut a Democrat and the usual Republican Party herd descends upon the man, they should be reminded that they took a pass with Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. I think, the good that I think may have come out of this, could be that the rules of reporting-especially the aspect that concerns candidates personal lives may possibly have changed …forever!
And the Ideological Civil War in the Republican Primaries continues
The ideological cleansing that has been going on quietly in the Republican primaries manifested itself again yesterday, when Mitt Romney eviscerated Newt Gingrich at the Florida GOP primaries. Newt Gingrich had hoped to ride the crest-the momentum he garnered after his impressive win in the conservative South Carolina penultimate week and win the Florida primaries. But the voters in Florida are not ideologically monolithic as was the case in South Carolina. Florida is almost like a city state-with voters split down the ideological spectrum. There are the Cuban- Americans who own the political space in Miami, and who even though deeply conservative exercise some pragmatic considerations, such as electability when presidential candidates’ selection process is concerned. Newt failed this litmus test badly wit this group as Mitt Romney was seen as the candidate best prepared to beat President Obama in the fall election. Northern Florida which is heavily conservative, as expected went for Newt, but not enough to help him tip the scale. The moderates who many say are the majority of primaries and general election voters did not buy into the divisive rhetoric and the right wing-Tea Party induced mechanics and optics that had worked so effectively for Newt in South Carolina. They overwhelmingly went for Mitt Romney
Even though Newt lost badly in Florida, the battle is not yet over, as he is poised to win big Southern states during the “Super Tuesday” and take the nominating processes right into the summer. Newt Gingrich appears angry and in a mood to fight, given the amount of negative publicity that Mitt Romney and his Political Action Committee (PAC) had unleashed on him which helped drive up his unfavorablity ratings among voters.
Whoever eventually wins the GOP primaries will essentially become a damaged political goods –no thanks to the barrage of negative ads that may have drummed up the candidates’ negatives among the voters. The Democrats must be having a wonderful laugh as this civil war rages.
Engineer Noah Dallaji honored at the UN
Engineer Noah Dallaji-the President of African Children Talent Discovery Foundation (ACTDF) was honored at the United Nations, New York last Wednesday for his deep interest in the plight of the indigent children in Africa.
At an event that was covered by the mainstream American media at the United Nations, Mr. Patrick Sciarratta-the President of Friendship Ambassadors foundation while presenting the award to Noah Dallaji enjoined him to continue his laudable efforts at providing a future and a sense of self to kids who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks of life.
A formal dinner capped the event which was attended by among others-the Nollywood actor-Desmond Eliot.
Due to space constraints last week, this segment of the column was not published. We continue today with the riveting story. Happy reading
Stories that touch the heart
One night of wrong judgment and one hell of a painful experience:
Why every woman must read this story – Part 3
Continued from last edition
As we went back to our school, there was no denying the fact that Ken had realized he had not been completely accepted by my father, and he felt hurt and bruised by this. And on my part, there was no doubt that I love my father, and was therefore, not willing to dismiss his concerns simply because I loved Ken. I was torn between two extremes.
Needless to say that our love, though still solid, was beginning to signs of stress and strains. It was during this time, that, on a summer trip with my parents to Houston, Texas, I met a man who six months later, would become my husband. Tim was an imposing figure – I have never seen such a giant of a man at a close proximity – except those basketball stars that you see on television. He simply stood at about 6 feet 9 and was handsome without description. I can still vividly recall the moment he walked into the restaurant that evening and arrested everyone’s attention. You could hear a din of silence fall over the cavernous restaurant when he walked in. I remember my heart beating at a faster rate, when he came and took a seat next to us and introduced himself to us and how polite he sounded!
I can still recall the glint of excitement that danced around my father’s eyes after he introduced himself. It was obvious that the guy was from my father’s ethnic stock and he appeared to have known his family members. “My God”! I remember my father exclaiming “How long have you been here son? I know your father! My God this is interesting! In the next 10 minutes, my father and Tim were engaged in animated discussion. Tim, a pharmacist who had played college basketball and had dreams of a career in the NBA, but which had floundered, was a successful professional. At 29, he had everything a woman would desire in a man: good and stable job, never been married and with no children, highly educated and drop-dead gorgeous and to put an icing on the cake – from my ethnic stock – all key ingredients that my father desired in a future son-in-law. By the time we left the restaurant, the one recurring topic of discussion now was Tim. “Don’t you find him extremely handsome” my father had asked obviously trying to draw me out. “I think he looks good” I had affirmed. “That’s my daughter” my father had exclaimed. There was no denying the fact that my father wanted me to date Tim and he left me in no doubt as to where his mind was!
The thing he didn’t know was that the appeal that Tim had on us was mutual. I liked him and was open to dating him. By the time my father gave me his number, I was already overwhelmingly affected emotionally by Tim. I began to romanticize our future together – waking up and going to bed while lying on his imposing and huge shoulders. When I eventually called him after endless prodding from my father, it was as if he had been waiting anxiously for my call. “Oh it’s so great to hear your voice” Tim had enthused.
Hope you are enjoying Texas and if you don’t mind, may I have the honor of taking you out for dinner whenever you are free.” Tim had requested – an offer I quickly accepted.
I can still remember how Tim dwarfed me when he came to pick me up that Thursday evening. With a bouquet of flower in tow, he was the very definition of a suave and dapper gentleman. I remember being so enthralled to be in his presence that I may have exposed my emotional vulnerabilities. The dinner was great and we had such wonderful time and great conversation. Tim was not seeing anyone, he had told me, having just broken up with a long term girlfriend, whom he said had moved to another state and was now in another relationship. My coming into his life, he said was therefore, a blessing and he looked forward to celebrating love and affection with me.
By the time he took me home that night, there was no denying that I had been sold on Tim’s charms and was ready and willing to dump Ken and that was exactly what I did. It was not an issue for debate – I knew that my heart belonged to Tim and it had nothing to do with his accomplishments, because I, also, did not lack anything, as my father was wealthy enough to accommodate all my desires and wants. By the time we returned to Nigeria, Tim and I had become an item and we were essentially inseparable and there was no way I was going to continue seeing Ken, even though I loved him dearly.
Ken took the news of my break-up with him real hard and he didn’t want to rationalize the fact that my father, as he had witnessed, would never accept him as his son’s in-law, and that I, also, was not willing to defy my father to do otherwise. There was no need for us, to live a lie, because that would be what our relationship would amount to, if we had continued with it and Tim had by now, told me he was determined to have me as a major part of his future-a desire that also found expression in me. Three weeks later, I was back in Houston, Texas.
TO BE CONTINUED