Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Barry Smitherman: Another Kooky Candidate in ComingTexas Elections

Many thanks to the Chronicle's Lisa Falkenberg for her continuing chronicle of kooky, crazy candidates wandering in the far right frontiers. Barry Smitherman wants all Texas families to have at least four kids and not be like the commies in China, having just a couple young ones per family. Some of Falkenberg's story is below. Thanks, Lisa!

It was attorney general candidate Barry Smitherman's comment that many aborted fetuses would have voted Republican that grabbed online headlines in recent days.

Sure, it was a kooky thing to say. But, to be fair, Republican candidates are required to say kooky things from time to time in a one-party state where leaders are chosen in primaries rather than general elections. And Smitherman was among friends at the Texas Alliance for Life's quarterly Leadership Circle Luncheon earlier this month.
To his credit, Smitherman's spokesman Allen Blakemore quickly clarified that the native Houstonian wasn't venturing to guess the political leanings of all of the country's unborn (because, you know, that would be silly). He was just talking about "the ones in Texas," as Blakemore put it to the Texas Tribune, "and we know that the majority of Texans vote for Republican candidates."

Yes, we do. But we also know, by way of the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute, that 69 percent of the women having abortions in Texas are poor, not quite the demographic the GOP strives to lure. And also in Texas, Guttmacher reports that 64 percent of women who opt for abortion are non-white, a group that overwhelmingly voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 over his Republican challenger.

Now, if Smitherman had left his speech to bizarre political calculations, the Railroad Commission member and former Public Utility Commission member might have enjoyed a slight bump in name recognition and the episode may have died in the News of the Weird section, as have his hints about Texas secession and inappropriate use of a noose image on Twitter.

'We're doing our part'
But Smitherman didn't stop there. The father of four went on to tout his baby-making résumé and sound the alarm about those married people who don't follow suit.

In an audio clip of Smitherman's speech posted on his website, he accuses Americans of "more or less voluntarily" entering into our own version of China's one-child-per-family policy by choosing to delay childbearing and having fewer offspring. In an apparent regurgitation of a recent book on fertility and demographics, Smitherman explains that America's fertility rate of 1.9 is woefully behind the needed replacement rate of 2.1.

And the worst slackers are people like yours truly: educated white women whose fertility rate collectively rivals China's at 1.6.

"Marijane and I had four children. So we're doing our part," Smitherman tells the crowd. "But some people are not having enough children. And in some cases it's either zero or one."

He dismisses any Malthusian devil's advocate who might bring up the dangers of overpopulation to Earth's environment and resources. After all, these are "the same people who believe in global warming." Shudder.

See today's printed Chronicle for the rest of the story!

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