Oklahoma freshman U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin has become somewhat of a national sensation following his recent bizarre comments related to President Barack Obama’s birthplace, food stamps and hamburgers.
Mullin, a Republican who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, makes this state a depressing place to live if you believe in rational thinking and evidence-based argumentation. How does someone like him even get elected and hold so much power in our culture? It’s an ancient question here in Oklahoma.
Here’s the basic rundown of some of Mullin’s recent comments that were widely reported outside of Oklahoma:
At a recent town hall, Mullin, as reported by ThinkProgress, told a self-described “birther princess” that he essentially believed her claims that Obama was not born in the United States, but that it was too late to do anything about it. He said, “I believe what you’re saying and I don’t support this president whatsoever.” He told her that Obama’s re-election makes it a moot point because not enough people cared about the issue. He also said, “I believe it’s still there, but my God if we didn’t prove it the first four years, what do you think the chances are now?” Obama, of course, was born in Hawaii. Right-wing extremists continue to argue he was actually born in Kenya and has presented to the public a forged birth certificate, which is an outrageous and discredited claim. Mullin’s comments about the issue at the town hall represent disgusting pandering and almost unbelievable ignorance.
Mullin also claimed at a town hall that food stamp fraud is a major problem, and that he personally witnessed it recently. Here’s the quote:
So I’m in Crystal City and I’m buying my groceries…and I noticed everybody was giving that card. They had these huge baskets, and I realized it was the first of the month. But then I’m looking over, and there’s a couple beside me. This guy was built like a brick house. I mean he had muscles all over him. He was in a little tank top and pair of shorts and really nice Nike shoes. And she was standing there, and she was all in shape and she looked like she had just come from a fitness program. She was in the spandex, and you know, they were both physically fit. And they go up in front of me and they pay with that card. Fraud. Absolute 100% all it is is fraud…it’s all over the place. And there you go, to the fact that we shouldn’t be supporting those who won’t work. They’re spending their money someplace.
It’s difficult to list all the false assumptions and claims in these comments, and they also seem just downright creepy and voyeuristic. First, people receiving food assistance come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Losing a job or income happens to the physically fit and the not-so physically fit. Second, making a quick assumption based on physical appearance has never been a good way to establish a credible argument. Just because a person looks physically fit doesn’t mean that person doesn’t have a medical condition. Third, it’s as if the couple didn’t fit into Mullin’s preconceived ideas about people who get food assistance. Should you have to look a certain way in order to eat? That’s preposterous. Note, too, the specific references to the man’s muscles and the woman’s spandex. Was Mullin essentially checking out the couple because he thought they were attractive, maybe even sexy?
Mullin also claimed at a town hall that the price of a hamburger at McDonald’s would rise to $20 if the country raised its minimum wage to $10 per hour. That’s absurd at its core. As critics pointed out, McDonald’s are quite profitable in other countries with higher minimum wages, and their hamburger prices are comparable to U.S. prices. Mullin’s claim is bogus fear mongering. I recognize that Mullin is just throwing ideas out there at the town hall, but this sweeping mathematical claim shows his lack of basic intellectual reasoning.
The problem here remains the state’s corporate media, which won’t hold politicians like Mullin accountable on a consistent basis. These wild claims should be carefully dissected locally and corrected. The corporate media here should, in essence, demand Mullin retract and correct his comments just based on a basic regard for truth and intellectual honesty. How can there be real political debate when one side is making wild accusations and claims that go unchallenged?