Governor Bob McDonnell went out with a whimper and a sob this week, the one-time poster pol for Christianity’s religious righteous, felled by eleven public corruption charges. While, like most women, I think of Bob McDonnell as Ken Cuccinelli’s wingman in the Republicans’ war on the women of Virginia, I didn’t realize the disgraced governor was a product of Pat Robertson’s Regent University until Rachel Maddow reminded us the night after his conviction.
Robertson is best known in LGBT circles as one of those homophobes who insist every earthquake, tornado and bout of ptomaine is caused by gays. Any day now, I expect him to announce Christian scientists have discovered global warming is caused by the friction of gay sex. So here’s what I have been wondering. How come Robertson, who is so attuned to heavenly signals of displeasure, never looks at events like the disgrace of Bob McDonnell and thinks, oh,oh, God must be angry about the way Bob McDonnell governed? Why doesn’t Pat Roberson look at the McDonnell conviction and wonder if God is saying “Let the gays marry.” or “Stop closing down women’s clinics.” Why doesn’t Pat Robertson put the McDonnell fall from grace together with the biblical message, “Judge not lest ye also be judged”?
Never going to happen, you say? Probably true. I don’t think Pat himself really believes God is in is heaven throwing thunderbolts because the wrong humans are copulating. It’s theater, the Limbaugh Low Road, audacity begets publicity – and the right loves to use it. The left? Not so much. We have no crazy anti-Limbaugh to proclaim God allowed that nine-year-old to kill her Uzi instructor as a signal to humans to read the fine print in his thou shalt not kill commandment and stop treating guns like toys. We have no one to announce God sent the influx of women and children to the borders as a test of our compassion: whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me. Let’s face it; we’ve got nobody. (I’d volunteer myself if I believed in a god, but it’s hard for an atheist to be taken seriously when she purports to be channeling some other religion’s deity.)
So I began running through Democrats looking for a few possibilities, and I realized Democrats not only don’t have many bomb throwers, we’re generally poll-timid. Most of our party speaks in support of an issue only when it’s in the public eye and they have the cover of their fellow lawmakers. Where are the issue champions willing to make noise?
We do have Joe Biden. I personally don’t think same-sex marriage (or President Obama’s embrace of LGBT equlaity) would be where it is today without the vice president. Joe Biden is so authentic they give him staffers charged with keeping Joe from being Joe.
We also have Elizabeth Warren. No one can say she doesn’t have the courage of her convictions. Half the time when she gets into the banking weeds, I’m not even sure I understand what she’s talking about, but I trust her. She is, at present, the only politician I would use in proximity to the T-word.
I put Nancy Pelosi on my list, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, even though he isn’t a Democrat. I would have included Barney Frank if he hadn’t retired. There’s Sandra Fluke in L.A. and Brian Sims in Philadelphia. And there is someone I would put on my short list who you may not know – yet. James Woods, from Phoenix, Arizona.
James Woods is running to represent Arizona’s 5th District in the United States’ Congress, but he is a politician by chance – or by fate if you believe in such things. He was a non-religious “tech” guy who thought he’d have a career in computers. Then life threw him a curve.
James told his story to Phoenix New Times:
“…a month before my 27th birthday, I was working as a contractor for a company that didn’t offer me any health benefits and I ended up getting really sick. I was hospitalized for MRSA–a life-threatening infection that’s resistant to antibiotics. It almost killed me. While I was in the hospital, my vision started to get dim on a Monday. By Friday, I never saw anything again. The doctors had to cut out part of my collar bone and amputate most of my toes. I went into organ failure and ended up on dialysis. I survived, but I spent two years in and out of hospitals while I recovered. And my family and I needed help. Without Social Security Disability, Nutrition Assistance and Medicaid/Medicare, I wouldn’t have made it. I would have died.”
There’s nothing like a near death experience to put your priorities in focus, and for James, it brought what seems to be a genuine desire to make America a better country. His Facebook page is full of articles urging compassion for immigrants, backing a living wage, supporting LGBT equality and women’s reproductive rights, which brings me to why I put James Woods on my list of politicians who are not afraid to say what they believe, rather than what they think will get them elected.
The National Pro-Life Alliance sent a survey to all the congressional candidates, asking them to go on record with their views on what they call the “sanctity of life.” Think Progress reported last month that James, who, by the way, did not “come to Jesus” after his illness and proudly calls himself a “humanist” on his campaign site, answered with this letter:
“Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your anti-abortion stance. While I cannot support policies that jeopardize the health and stability of women and their families, there are many measures that I do support that are proven to quickly enhance the well-being of women — and to significantly reduce abortion. These proven pro-woman, pro-family initiatives include: promoting sexually healthy, knowledgeable and responsible communities beginning in our K-12 schools; expanding publicly supported family planning services including universally accessible birth control for all women; and strengthening government empowerment programs for low income women and their children.
I look forward to working together with you to promote policies like these that support our families – and that quickly safely and dramatically reduce abortion.”
As a kicker, James sent the letter back with some free campaign condoms emblazoned with the words: “prevent abortion.” Could Arizona’s James Woods be the Democratic bomb thrower we’ve been looking for?
From James Woods website:
“I have a vision for an America in which government is a Progressive instrument of the people used to empower all of us to live in safety and happiness. To succeed, we must ensure equality of opportunity for everyone. When anyone is denied full inclusion in social and civic life, it degrades our economy and takes a terrible toll on our communities. I support policies that safeguard equal treatment, protection and opportunity for everyone.
There is such delicious irony in the fact that the blind candidate is the one with the clearest vision.
A young, blind, secularist, liberal with a brand new kidney might not seem like the obvious choice for Arizona, but he has my attention, and my admiration. Today, The crystal vision of blind candidate James Woods, in On Our Radar.
Photos via Facebook