T&B: Poppies & poopies for Popaditch
In last week’s paper, CityBeat spoke to Nick Popaditch, Republican candidate for California’s 51st Congressional District, about violence in the Tea Party movement. When you’ve got a candidate on the phone, you might as well hit him with as many questions as you can—then grade him on his answers, Turds & Blossoms style.
And our questions included topics like intelligence gathering, testicles and health-care reform.
Popaditch, aka “Gunny Pop,” is a retired Marine who lost his right eye. He’s a bit of a hard-line right-winger and a Tea Party favorite. In fact, at a recent event, he explained his proposal for handling suspected terrorists (i.e. “war criminals”): “We capture you on Monday. We try you on Tuesday. We execute you on Wednesday.” That immediately raised this question in our mind….
CityBeat: What day do you waterboard them?
Nick Popaditch: Hahahahahaha… No, actually I don’t believe in torturing them. I don’t believe waterboarding is torture, for one. But all that aside, I believe in handling POWs- If you get the whole thing in context, actually what I said first was a fellow picks up a rifle and fights a guy like me overseas, fights against our military in a military-on-military conflict, we capture you and we put you in a POW camp just like we always have through all our wars, like we always have done and have it humanely by the Geneva Convention.
But if you take off that uniform- what these guys have been doing, you get on a civilian plane, you attack our civilian targets, you go after women and children at home here—non-conventional warfare, non-conventional weapons—you’re a war criminal. I believe in a military tribunal if you’re that type of war criminal. I believe it’s punishable by death. You should be executed, absolutely. That’s the full context of what I’m saying.
Turds & Blossoms Analysis: Two turds for this answer. One for being wishy-washy on the is-waterboarding-torture issue and the second for not quite grasping the underlying question of intelligence-gathering in the process.
The second question is even sillier, just be prepared. [At this point, CityBeat rambled on about our interest in the issue of hermaphrodites in the military after Rep. Duncan D. Hunter made a statement to NPR on the issue and how we discovered that the same 2005 policy that bars hermaphrodites from military service also bars men with only one testicle.] I found that very interesting.
I also find that very interesting.
Do you think there is any good reason that men with one testicle shouldn’t be allowed to serve?
No, I sure don’t. I tell you, I was in the Marines for 16 years and even in that amount of time, you don’t know everything. So, I believe in enforcing the regulations. Now, if there’s a regulation like that, then I certainly believe quality leadership will prevail on that and address the issue and handle it properly. Now, these statements- understand, I don’t know what Duncan D. said nor do I know this regulation you’re talking about. Just in general, I have a lot of faith in the leadership and our ability to take care of our young Americans on the battlefield and everywhere else for that matter. So, I believe the generals are very smart individuals and if there was a regulation like that, I think it would be handled accordingly. If it’s ridiculous, let’s get rid of it.
T&B Analysis: One big tulip bulb for his answer, which supports the rights of men with monorchism, yet respects the military’s authority and wisdom in making policy decisions. It’s a perfectly balanced response and impressive, considering that most politicians ambushed with that question would’ve said something along the lines of “I’ll need to look into it.”
Now the serious questions: What is your response to the health-care vote? The bill has passed, it’s signed, the only chance [to overturn it] is now perhaps in the courts. What’s your response?
I think it’s very sad that our elected representatives have ignored the will of the people. The overwhelming majority has expressed opposition to this and they have ignored that and passed it anyway. They’ve put their political ideologies, they’ve put their political parties ahead of the will of the American people and that is a sad day.
Do you think there’s room for conservatives in the Tea P arty movement to actually to feel a little victorious in that the bill that eventually passed didn’t have an public option, and certainly didn’t have single payer in it? Do you think that’s a direct response to the outcry from the other side?
I think that the fact that they passed anything that the American people did not want is sad and I think democracy was not served. The American people were not served by this bill. There were some parts that the American people did expressly desire to have, but not this bill that they got.
What were those parts?
Well, for instance, I hear that they say they want to have a, um, I want to word this correctly, well if you lose your job and you have a preexisting condition, it would be difficult to get new coverage with a preexisting condition because if you lost your health care due to losing your job. I don’t know how to put that more concisely.
But if that is an issue for the majority of Americans, why don’t we do that? I mean, that’s a one-page bill: You can’t be eliminated for preexisting conditions. But you have to be honest with everybody if you do that: The cost is going to go up, it’s going to go up significantly and then let’s have a debate and decide what the American people want. If we want to have that and everybody understands that the price will go up, then sure, that’s what democracy’s all about. Let’s have debate on it, decide what the American people want and give them the legislation they deserve. But a 3,000-page bill of bribes, earmarks, riders, special interests’ stuff thrown in there, that’s ridiculous. That’s not democracy, that’s dirty government, that’s what that is. Dirty government.
So, if elected to Congress, would you repeal the whole bill or just certain parts of it?
I’d be going to represent the American people, represent the people of the 51st district and that would be to repeal that bill, yes sir.
OK and what would you replace it with?
What the American people want. If they want health care reform and would want that particular… for instance, I think what people really want is more affordable healthcare. And we can do that through tort reform. We can do that through opening up competition by tearing down state boundaries. We can do that through tearing down state mandates. Like for instance, if I’m not a drug user, I can opt to not have drug and alcohol rehabilitation counseling in my health-care program. These sorts of things, but in the state of California, that sort of thing is mandated in my health coverage. So, if we can tear those things down, it opens up competition that can bring the price down. And also this preexisting condition thing: I would take a harder look at whether the majority of people want this. If they want this at the cost it’s going to add, then yeah, I would be supportive of that.
T&B Analysis:This question held up this blog post for more than a week; we wanted to fact check the drug-counseling claim and no one seemed to have an answer. Eventually, the California Department of Insurance responded saying that it is required for insurers “have to offer the coverage to large groups, but employers aren’t required to purchase it.”
Popaditch earns four turds for his responses.
1.) He didn’t seem prepared to point out the specific elements of the bill Americans do support.
2.) Specifically, on the issue of preexisting conditions, Popaditch does himself no good by leaving his position ambiguous and subject to the polls. Voters should know where he stands before going to the ballot box. (Also, there’s a reason Americans don’t vote on every bill; the government’s job is to pass bills based on their necessity, not their popularity.)
3.) On the subject of drug abuse: His position just strikes us as missing the point. People who have drug or alcohol problems aren’t likely to admit to it, especially if it’s optional and comes with a higher price tag. As a result, the public or the rest of his insurance pool would have to deal with the consequences. (But that’s kind of besides the point; as a vet, he’s eligible for subsidized health care—including substance abuse counseling.)
4.) We wish he’d snapped at the opportunity to congratulate the Tea Party. Instead, we feel like he not only reinforced the Democratic spin that the Republicans are the “Party of No,” but made us think that he sees Americans as the Citizenry of No.
There’s been a lot of anger, following the passage of that and there’s been a lot of…
Violent rhetoric and stuff like…
Well, people are going to get mad when they feel they’re not being listened to.
You’re a favorite candidate of the local Tea Party movement here and I’m looking at your website and there’s some rhetoric, like “Ready to charge the hill” and “Join Gunny’s corps”…
Well, I believe in that stuff. I believe you need to be committed to what you believe in and most importantly, what you have to do is you have to be honest with the American people and I am very honest. I tell the people in the 51st what I’m going to do, what I believe in, and they either like that and vote for me or don’t like it and vote for the other guy. I believe in the democratic process wholeheartedly.
Today via Twitter, Representative Darrell Issa put out this statement: “In America you correct junk like Obamacare at the ballot box, not with death threats, violence and ugliness.” Is that the sort of statement you could get behind?
You know, absolutely. I believe that people will make their disapproval known in November. You know, you’re not going to solve anything through violence. If anything, the opposition, those who disapprove of this, any violence is going to be used to discredit their actual legitimate disagreement.
Why do you think it’s getting so heated?
Just look at the numbers. Let’s say you trust some of the polls—that an overwhelming majority was opposed to the bill. That’s 200 million Americans by a safe estimate, 200 million Americans that don’t want this. There’s going to be some people who are a little more angry than others in that 200 million, there’s going to be some people who maybe won’t exercise good judgment. I think it’s just a matter of numbers, with so many people opposed to it that, somewhere in that large number there’s going to be some people with bad judgment on both sides.
How do you respond to people who may seem like they’re going a little over the top?
The day that Americans are fighting with other Americans, I mean, c’mon, that’s not who we are. We’re brothers and we may squabble and we may argue, we may argue very heatedly, but the day we turn to violence against each other, that’s the wrong way to do this stuff. However, I would say also to those elected officials: When 200 million people are screaming at you to not do something, maybe you should be listening to those people.
T&B Analysis: We’ll give him two snapdragons on this one for simultaneously condemning violence while supporting the underlying frustration beneath it. That’s smart politics: He can wash his hands of the extremists without alienating them or letting Democrats off the hook.
You’re sort of an outsider candidate in that you’re not coming from another elected position. Do you think people are distrustful of both sides of Congress, or just the Democrats?
No, I would say that the distrust would probably run on both sides of the fence, maybe a little deeper on one side than the other, obviously. I mean, I obviously believe in one side more than the other or I wouldn’t be standing behind one side, but both sides need to police their ranks, absolutely. And that’s what elections are for. I mean, the president said one thing and it’s very true: Elections have consequences and you’re going to see that in 2010. If you don’t hold your word in 2008, you’re probably going to be going home in 2010.
Obviously, you don’t think the Democrats had the right strategy going about this whole health-care thing. Do you think the Republicans had the right strategy?
You know. this is what I would say: I watched the healthcare debate, I watched the Republican response to it and only once in that whole six hours did I hear “the American people don’t want this.” If it were me, I would’ve said that every five seconds. The American people don’t want this and you don’t have a better argument than that.
T&B Analysis: Popaditch wins both an orchid and a little diarrhea for this response. It’s great for a Republican to ignore the Reagan creed and hold his colleagues accountable. At the same time, it would have been even less productive to have Popaditch squawking like a cuckoo clock every few minutes on C-Span.
All in all, that’s a pretty decent score, and we’ll award him a bonus blossoms for giving us an interview and being such a good sport about it.
Grand total: Seven turds, five blossoms.