Ben Stein: Good Old Tail-Gunner Joe Miller

Ben Stein

ben-stein-10-24-10When we think of a dangerous politician in these United States, if we are of a certain age, we think of Broderick Crawford playing "Willy Stark," the doppelganger for Huey Long, the colorful, swaggering demagogue of Louisiana in the Depression era, in the original version of the movie about Governor Long, "All The King's Men," based on the eponymous classic novel by Robert Penn Warren.

We think of Stark's motorcycle escort in their storm trooper boots and their leather jackets and their sunglasses, shoving anyone from the media who disagreed with The Kingfish out of the way and busting his camera for good measure. But we also think of Huey Long as cagey and smart (and as it turned out, extremely advanced in his racial views).

The GOP candidate for (much too) high office in Alaska, Joe Miller, who beat the redoubtable GOP stalwart, Lisa Murkowski, in the primary, with major Tea Party help, is a bit reminiscent of Willy Stark. Only stupid.

Joe Miller supposedly is a graduate of Yale Law School, as I am, and I never knew one stupid person at Yale Law, which makes me wonder if Mr. Miller really went there. A Yale Law grad would not have security guards who would for a moment consider "arresting" and handcuffing a member of the Alaska press, Tony Hopfinger, who had the audacity to ask questions about Miller's past transgressions involving computer stuffing of a polling place in an unofficial GOP poll.

A Yale Law grad, especially one supported by the Tea Party, which is all about curbing abuses of power by the government, would not even think of taking away the reporter's video camera, as Miller's guards did. That's what stupid people do. Maybe I am wrong and he somehow slipped through the Ivied doors when they weren't looking. Maybe Miller thinks he is boss of some kind of third world country and his mirrored sunglass-wearing Tontons Macoutes can just bully anyone who gets in his way.

That is not what the Tea Party is all about. It is certainly not what the GOP is about. It isn't even what the Democratic Party is about.

Can you imagine a statewide official doing this or allowing his guards to do this -- and not then sending out a full throated apology? Yet Miller is accusing the reporter of assaulting his guards, who, as apparently seen by witnesses, surrounded Hopfinger and menaced him, and then cuffed him when he tried to escape. How stupid can a candidate be? How can this be happening?

It gets a lot worse. When asked how the USA could seal the border with Mexico, Miller, astonishingly, gave as an example of effective border closure the regime of Communist East Germany. That border sealing involved shooting or blowing up with mines or electrocuting potential border crossers. Can a GOP candidate actually be suggesting such brutal means of border control -- which took the lives of hundreds of East Germans seeking freedom -- as a model for the United States?

Yes, he can and he did.

Now, Miller has said that he's so PO'ed about being criticized about his past life and his credentials (presumably including his historian's credentials) that he simply will not answer any questions about his past life and will only talk about big things like budgets and tax cuts.

But the character of a candidate for high office is a very big thing. So is his intelligence. Lisa Murkowski is waging a write-in campaign. Maybe it's time for people in The Last Frontier to stop listening to Mr. Miller, prosecute him and/or his guards, and start writing. M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I.

Someone's been listening to "Send in the Clowns" a little too often. "Don't bother, they're here," is what keeps occurring to me. Only this is a dangerous, stupid clown. Time for him to go home and cool off.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist and lawyer who served as a presidential speechwriter in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Alaska Dispatch features commentary by Alaskans from across the state. The views expressed are the writers' own and are not endorsed by Alaska Dispatch.