If you've been away on Mars thanks to the miracles of the private-sector space program that has replaced NASA, you missed John Huppenthal's star turn on the national stage. The Arizona pol was caught making anonymous posts on Internet sites under the names "Thucydides" and "Falcon9."
Among other things, he compared Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger to the Nazis, called those who receive public assistance "lazy pigs," and called for stomping out Spanish-language television and newspapers. Oh, and FDR was responsible for the rise of Hitler (even though both were elected at the same time).
As you can see on Arizona's Continuing Crisis this played far beyond "the Valley," providing more of the kind of publicity that is so helpful to Arizona's reputation.
First, Huppenthal gave the standard non-apology, "I sincerely regret if my comments have offended anyone." On Thursday, the Internet pressure had grown so great that he was forced to call a tearful press conference at which he "renounced and repudiated" the posts. But he declined to resign, as some demanded, including Lisa Graham Keegan, who is now to the left of today's GOP.
Huppenthal should resign, but not over being an Internet troll.
His catastrophic mistakes are not failing to heed Godwin's Law or spouting standard right-wing invective against women, minorities and the poor. Instead, as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Huppenthal has presided over further destruction — if that were possible — of Arizona's public schools.
He has done nothing to improve funding that is near the bottom nationally. In Education Week's deeper dig of performance and quality, Arizona comes in fifth worst among 50 states and the District of Columbia. Below Alabama, Arkansas and West Virginia. The Kookocracy disdains the national benchmarks so 13 years ago set up a state auditor. Its conclusion: Under Huppenthal the dollars actually reaching the classroom are at a new low.
Huppenthal has pushed to starve real public schools even further to benefit the Charter School Racket. He has also driven efforts to give tax breaks and robocalling to support vouchers for private schools, specifically "Christian" academies, many of suspicious provenance vis a vis connections to politicians. In other words, it hasn't been St. Mary's High School asking for this state assistance.
The Thucydides handle is rich. As if John Huppenthal has read, much less wrestled with, the father of Western historians. But I'm sure, he has skimmed Thucydides lite via the right-wing "think" tanks and policy papers. The Athenian does have an apt quote for politics in the Cold Civil War, in which Huppenthal enthusiastically fights:
In general, the men of lower intelligence won out. Afraid of their own shortcomings and of the intelligence of their opponents, so that they would not lose out in reasoned argument or be taken by surprise by their quick-witted opponents, they boldly moved into action. Their enemies, on the contrary, contemptuous and confident in their ability to anticipate, thought there was no need to take by action what they could win by their brains
Huppenthal is not that bright in book learning — no successful Republican can be — but he is a committed ideologue. He is an "intellectual" in the Espresso Pundit style. His "passion," he told me years ago, is education. After his fashion. In other words, he believes in taking down "government schools" plus the soup-to-nuts nihilism of today's GOP.
He also represents the career politician that Arizona has created with term limits, the Big Sort and the utter sandbagging of anyone outside the far right of the political spectrum. Thus, Chandler City Council, state Senate, state House, back to the Senate — where he survived an anti-Kook recall — and finally schools chief since 2011. An outsider, he is not.
Think of it: Huppenthal, Horne-y, Bennett, Brewer, Arpaio and wealthy Republican John Sidney McCain III (R-cable news), the A-team in the state once represented by John Rhodes.
Yet they are the fully representative leaders of the majority of the 20-someodd-percent of the electorate that bothers to show up. I doubt they would argue with his troll posts. They certainly approve of his vandalizing of public education in the name of white-right suburban-apartheid GOP politics.
Arizona will make no progress until the Kookocracy is deposed. That won't happen until the Republicans lose the Legislature, especially, and other top state offices.
As for Huppenthal, his sins are substantive and will hold back thousands of children for the rest of their lives. This bothers me much more than playing troll on the Internet.
What do you think, Falcon9?