For years the readership of many local newspapers has been in a decline. An increase in price coupled with decreased services in conjunction with the explosive growth of internet based news sources has mostly led to this decline. However there is another factor that is driving the newspaper industry toward the abyss of irrelevancy. Many of their readers no longer trust their honesty and integrity.
Monday evening former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee returned to West Des Moines for a book signing at the Borders on University Avenue. At about seven o’clock Governor Huckabee’s tour bus pulled in from Iowa City. There was a number of Governor Huckabee’s supporters on hand to visit with him on his bus. Just in front of the bus were several members of the media, including Mr. Beaumont. While the throng waited patiently to get on the bus to meet with Governor Huckabee former Gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa Family Policy Center President Chuck Hurley arrive and began to speak with the assembled crowd.
The pair of Iowa activists mingled with the group by the bus long enough that the media should have noted their attendance. Then shortly after they arrived the pair boards the bus to meet with Huckabee. However when I return home Monday night I discover that not only did the Register’s Beaumont ignore that the pair were ever on the bus, he blatantly denies that it ever happened.
After discovering this I felt like I had stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. It made me doubt my memory and my sanity. It made me wonder if I really saw what I thought I saw. So to confirm what was going on I got in contact with one of my sources. He confirmed that yes Vander Plaats and Hurley were both at Borders on Monday night and that yes both of them got on the bus and spoke with Governor Huckabee at length in the back of the bus. He even went so far as to inform me that Governor Huckabee’s former campaign manager was also on the bus with him. Furthermore I have been advised that Vander Plaats even spoke with Mr. Beaumont after exiting the bus.
The question that we are now faced with is why Mr. Beaumont reported that a meeting did not take place when he knew it did? Has he been infected with the same disease that causes biased journalism that his colleague Jennifer Jacobs has? Was it simply a mistake on his side? Regardless of the answer the institution of journalism has once again taken a hit to its credibility. And we see once again one of the many reasons that the newspaper industry is in a downhill spiral.
Update: It was brought to my attention that I inadvertently linked the wrong story by Tom Beaumont. I have corrected this mistake and the link now directs you to the right article.
According to Rod Boshart of the Sioux City Journal, former Governor Branstad has articulated that he was indeed open to an increase in the gas tax at some point in the future. This is directly contradictory to the comments that he had made to O. Kay Henderson back in November of 2009. In that interview former Governor Branstad remarked that he would not be supportive of an increase in the state’s gas tax. In that interview Branstad asserted that instead of increasing the gas tax he would look at finding places within the bureaucracy to increase efficiency. For some reason it seems that Branstad has changed his tune on this issue. According to the Sioux City Journal article Branstad rationalizes this increase with the assertion that it is not a tax, but that it is a user fee.
The thing that I find so troubling is the ease with which Branstad contradicts himself. As I pointed out at one point he was opposed to increasing the gas tax, but now is somewhat supportive of it. This causes me to wonder what issue he will next backtrack on. Will he change his position on reducing the corporate income tax? Will he reconsider his pledge to shrink the size of the state government?
Another question that has to be asked is how many Republicans will take a second look at former Governor Branstad and find him wanting? How many current supporters will this drive away from his campaign? Surely this contradiction will diminish his credibility on many of the issues that he has made a centerpiece of his campaign.
Saturday I raised the question of whether Republican Gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad truly wants to win the support of those that cast their ballots in favor of Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican primary on June 8th. He claims to want their support but seems to be doing absolutely nothing to demonstrate this. In fact as I pointed out Branstad seems to be laboring under the delusion that the Republican base will support him in the November general election because they have nowhere else to go. And as I pointed out, contrary to Branstad’s rhetoric, Vander Plaats supporters do indeed have other options available to them in November. As a result of this I have decided to highlight all the candidates for the Governor’s race regardless of party affiliation. And to lead off this series I will showcase the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, Eric Cooper.
Born in Iowa City, Dr. Cooper grew up in Kansas where he attended the University of Kansas where he earned a B.S. in Cognitive Psychology. He then migrated to Minnesota where he earned a Ph.D. in Psychology. After returning to his native Iowa in 1994, Dr. Cooper began working at Iowa State University where he serves as an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. Dr. Cooper has made several unsuccessful attempts at the Iowa Legislature in the Ames area, the most recent in 2008 when he ran against Democrat Lisa Heddens in House District 46. Despite his electoral losses, Dr. Cooper is undaunted.
On education Dr. Cooper believes that the state is conducting business in a very inefficient manner. In a manner fitting the Libertarian moniker Dr. Cooper articulates that it makes no sense to have the government run the education system. He feels that the virtual monopoly that the state holds on the education system is the prime reason for the poor quality of education in our state. He believes that a highly competitive free market education system would be the answer to our state’s education blight. That is not to say that the state would be completely out of the picture. The state would still provide the funding necessary for the school to operate. He rationalizes this by stating that all taxpayers have a vested interest in promoting a well educated society. He believes that the benefits the taxpayers would reap from better education would far outweigh the costs associated funding education. His philosophy is really interesting and one that I have not heard from anywhere else. If you want to read more about his education proposals you can do so here.
On the sanctity of marriage Dr. Coopers philosophy gets a little confusing. At one point Dr. Cooper points out that the government should not define marriage. But at the same time Dr. Cooper points out that all rights need to be extended to all people. This issue is one that I would like to discuss with Dr. Cooper should I ever get the opportunity. For more on Dr. Cooper’s marriage philosophy click here.
On the inflated taxation tobacco Dr. Cooper points to the Revolutionary War. He points out that the Revolution erupted over a two percent tax on printed material used to pay for the French and Indian War. He articulates that taxes were meant to be imposed only for the purpose of paying for the actions that must be undertaken by the government. He further points out that the usage of a tax in an attempt to persuade the citizens to act in a certain way is a form of tyranny. For more on Dr. Cooper’s comments and musings on the cigarette tax please view this page.
I have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Cooper speak at the Iowan’s for Tax Relief Candidate Forum several months back. He proved himself to the most articulate speaker on the night. And his economic proposals were enough to wow the assembled crowd of predominately Republican activists. I found Dr. Cooper to open and honest as demonstrated by his assertion that he is not in this race to win it, but to influence the debate in some way. His goal is to garner two percent of the general election vote so as to win the Libertarian Party major party status. It is clear to me that if Dr. Cooper were to somehow win this election it would be a blessing for our state. Dr. Cooper has proven himself to be one of the alternatives in this race.
Republican Gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad seems to be laboring under a mistaken notion that supporters of his former opponent Bob Vander Plaats will naturally gravitate toward his campaign because they have nowhere else to go. Branstad seems to be either unwilling or unable to accept the reality that today’s political landscape is much different from the one during his last campaign more almost twenty years ago. A larger portion of the electorate no longer selects a candidate based upon their party affiliation instead opting for the issues espoused by the candidates. How else could a four term, undefeated former Governor come so close to getting beat in his own party’s primary race. If the staffers of the Branstad campaign really want him to win the election they would do well to dispel the former Governor of his antiquated notion because despite Branstads assertion there are indeed places for Vander Plaats supporters to go in the general election.
Of course if Branstad continues to campaign with the false belief described above it will only serve to help some of the third party and independent candidates that have tossed their hats into the ring. The Libertarian candidate for Governor, Eric Cooper, is certainly a rising star in Iowa politics. If you would remember it was Mr. Cooper that wowed the members of Iowan’s for Tax Relief at their candidate forum a few months ago and I am sure that he would welcome with open arms disaffected Republicans looking for a candidate. As would independent candidate Jonathon Narcisse. Narcisse is another candidate that has fared well with the ITR crowd and has an additional bonus from being an outspoken member of the Des Moines School Board. Of course we cannot forget about the Constitution Party candidate Rick Phillips. I currently don’t know much about Mr. Phillips, but you can rest assured that I will do my research on him.
The fact that supporters of Vander Plaats are not happy with the Republican nominee was apparent at the 2010 Republican Party of Iowa State Convention where his selection for his running mate was almost defeated for the nomination. Because of this apparent division the Branstad campaign decided to dispatch the Lieutenant Governor nominee Kim Reynolds in an attempt to win over the voters that supported Bob Vander Plaats. Then in an interview in the rural community of Carroll Reynolds blew whatever chances she had at winning over skeptical Republican voters. I won’t rehash the interview; you can check it out here on the Iowa Independent. All I will say about the interview is that the comments she made will NOT win over any Vander Plaats supporters.
If the Branstad campaign is not careful it will do more to alienate Vander Plaats supporters than it will to win them over. The first step in the right direction for Branstad would be to remember that his continued insistence that they will end up supporting him is a relic from the past. In the end I must wonder if Branstad really does want to win over Vander Plaats supporters?