For weeks leading up to Tuesday's primary election, Idaho was subjected—again—to nationwide mocking because of a political candidate's incomprehensible, addle-headed campaign blunders.
Glory be! In the end, however, voters in Idaho's 1st Congressional District delivered a stunning rebuke of Republican Vaughn Ward, who ripped off Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic Convention speech verbatim for his own campaign, identified the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as a separate country, condemned the Wall Street bailout despite his wife's job with stimulus-rescued Fannie Mae and was chastised for misuse of his Marine uniform in political ads.
Not even Sarah Plain's 11th-hour Boise fly-in to endorse Ward could rescue him from a rout, a telling straw in the wind about the shrinking powers of Palin's fairy dust.
As Westerner and columnist Timothy Eagan noted in Thursday's New York Times, Ward "has the dubious character trifecta of the Palin brand: bone-headed, defiant and willfully ignorant."
Idaho's 1st District has a yen for fielding lawmakers with made-for-TV oddball one-liners. The late U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth was always good for comic material, such as obsessive fears that United Nations' black helicopters were hovering over Idaho. More recently, one-term U.S. Rep. Bill Sali produced the balmy claim that 40 percent of a tree is composed of recoverable petroleum.
That said, the Republican victor in Tuesday's vote, state Rep. Raul Labrador, has dreamed up a dubious slogan he should either abandon as pointless or explain: "The answer to Obamaism is liberty." Since Americans still are free to protest in the streets, shout and scream on TV and radio, write nasty letters to their representatives, go and come as they please, buy more guns and vote as they please, what "liberty" does Labrador insinuate has been lost at the hands of President Obama and needs to be restored?
Is Labrador preparing us for more national mocking?
Idaho's political atmosphere is rife with slogans ginned up to scare or confuse voters or hide a candidate's skimpy ideas—stuff like Labrador's "liberty" antidote to Obama, plus the ever-present "return of constitutional government" (Has it been abolished?), downsizing big government (OK, cut where?), "take back our country" (Was it stolen?).
The state's politicians who live on slogans of fear and foreboding rather than ideas, and voters who fall for the-sky-is-falling nonsense, need to grow up. If they want better government as they insist, it will come only in direct proportion to the adult quality of those who're elected to government, not through bunkum.