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Decision time on Cynthia McKinney

Tuesday's runoff election will decide lightning-rod Democrat's fate

By Jeff Emanuel

On the eve of the state’s runoff elections, Georgia is now one sleep away from the final showdown between 4th District Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and her challenger, DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson. The latest poll numbers, released earlier today by Insider Advantage, show Johnson leading 53-40, with 7% undecided and a margin of error of +/- 5%. This is a big change from IA’s previous poll, which had McKinney down by 25 points, but also had an undecided number of over 30%.

Georgia Republicans are divided on the virtues of having a Cynthia McKinney in office. Those in favor of her evaluate the good she does for the Republican cause by providing such a large, easy target (and arguing that Johnson simply provides a less-embarrassing but equally-liberal alternative); those against her largely decry the lack of dignity and of effective representation she affords her district.

McKinney has been exposed on several fronts for the half-or-less-truths she has spread on the campaign trail. 4th District resident Dignan has detailed several lies McKinney has told during this campaign, from exagerrating her dismal Congressional effectiveness rating to her opponent being bought and paid for by Republican interests. He concluded by saying:
The sad thing about all of these lies from Cynthia and Billy is the presumption that their constituents, particularly the black community, is too stupid to fact check them. I have spoken with many of my black friends about McKinney and to a person they are embarrassed to have her as a representative. As am I.
McKinney, as usual, is not almost as far left—and as nonsensical—as possible on a host of issues, but is publicly hot-tempered to boot. Before the current fight for her political survival, McKinney was, of course, last seen attempting to justify her striking of a Capitol Hill police officer by decrying his “racism” and “inappropriate touching.” As noted at the time, BBC “journalist” Greg Palast very civilly wrote on McKinney’s blog shortly after the incident: “The good ol' boy cracker-crats of the Republican party are having themselves a regular hootenanny over allegations that congresswoman Cynthia McKinney landed a punch on a security guard at the Capitol.”

Seeking to make herself the more palatable of the two Democrat candidates, McKinney has tried to paint Johnson as simply a tool of the Republican Party because of the broad anti-McKinney support he has received. In their first debate, she was soundly beating her stiff, rehearsed opponent until a panelist asked Johnson how his policies would differ from the Congresswoman’s. In his answer, Johnson stated a willingness to “reach across the aisle” and “work together” for the good of the nation. McKinney responded by calling him “the Republicans’ men,” and accusing him of saying in his answer that he would be “just like the Republicans.” She followed that by (unconvincingly) characterizing herself as “independent” and beholden only to the people.

In the pair’s final debate, held Monday morning on Atlanta hip-hop radio station V103, both McKinney and Johnson were asked if they would vote to impeach President Bush over the conduct of the war in Iraq and episodes like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. McKinney said she would vote for impeachment and might even draft her own impeachment legislation. Johnson responded by saying that he would like to see more congressional investigations, but that he would not hesitate to vote for impeachment if the evidence warranted.

The numbers still favor a Johnson win, and Cynthia McKinney has proved beatable in the past, losing the 2002 primary to fellow Democrat Denise Majette. Her father, Billy McKinney, attributed that loss to the fact that "Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S." This time around, he is warning that “the Fourth District is in danger of being represented by the Republican Party” should his daughter be defeated.

Conspiracy theorist and McKinney supporter Michael Ruppert, who glommed on to the Congresswoman when she embraced his belief that Bush was behind 9-11, wrote a column entitled “The Beloved Cynthia McKinney: A White Ex Cop Speaks Out About a Georgia Congresswoman,” which is still posted on McKinney’s website, and in which he defended her actions in the Capitol Hill police-punching incident, and decried Georgia Republicans’ “illegally crossing over” in the 2002 open primary election “to vote for the Oreo (Majette).”

McKinney’s vocal anti-administration viewpoints have been well documented, including her outrageous statements regarding September 11 (“What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?”) and the Iraq war (“Thousands of Iraqis, especially children, have been killed by our sanctions and our bombs...[but] destroying Iraq isn't enough for them”).

McKinney’s anti-American rhetoric, which could be mistaken for that of Hugo Chavez himself, includes gems like this one: “Democracy in Venezuela, India, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay has produced proud people willing to stand up to US imperialism, coup attempts, and destabilization of their countries. And the good news is that this resistance will spread.” She has followed up with such mind-boggling assertions as “George Bush came to power by stopping democracy at home—denying the opportunity to vote to blacks and Latinos in Florida,” and, “in countries like Haiti where democracy was thriving, [the American government] arrested President Aristide at gunpoint and forced him out of his own country.” To quote loosely from the fairytale film The Princess Bride, when the Dread Pirate Roberts was engaged in a Battle of Wits with the Sicilian, Vizzini: truly, she has a dizzying intellect.

McKinney has an eyebrow-raising record of sponsored legislation, from the Tupac Shakur and Martin Luther King, Jr. records release Acts, to a resolution “reaffirm[ing] the continued importance and applicability of the Posse Comitatus Act,” to a resolution “opposing any agreement between” the US and Nigeria to “deploy United States Armed Forces to Nigeria.” Worthy causes all, to be sure, and issues which are on the front burner of concern for all Americans.

The most intriguing part of McKinney’s campaign outreach platform—and one which has received prominent positioning on her website—has to be her self-described status as “a strong advocate, mentor and supporter of the Hip-Hop community.” She credits her “unique popularity among the members of the Hip-Hop generation” for her becoming a “trusted voice on behalf of producers, retailers and consumers of Hip-Hop entertainment.” She cites the “potential of the Hip-Hop community” to “evolve into one of the strongest movements on behalf of social justice and community development.” As her website claims, “Congresswoman McKinney is responsible for special outreach to the Hip Hop community and supports their efforts to run for office and become policymakers for today and tomorrow.” It would appear that rappers such as Kanye West (of “George Bush doesn't care about black people” fame), Fifty Cent (who filmed a DVD to “take viewers inside his X-rated hip-hop lifestyle”), and others currently have a friend in Congress, and a supporter should they ever decide to run for office.

The time has come for the voters in Georgia’s 4th to make their preference known. Will it be the lightning-rod, conspiracy-theorist, hot-tempered incumbent? Or will the man who appears to be more level-headed, more thoughtful, but barely less liberal prevail, resulting in giving the 4th district less embarrassing representation, but also resulting in taking away one of the best weapons the Republican party has? The options are clear, but the result is not.

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