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Green Party, RIP

HERE’S SOME NEWS YOU MIGHT USE about Barack Obama. Did you know he was, in reality, a government plant, a sort of Manchurian Candidate activated by Big Brother to confuse black people?

That’s the political gospel according to the recently self-proclaimed Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney as she launched her national campaign this week from Houston. When asked by someone in the small audience at Texas Southern University about Obama, McKinney responded: “Look at the Colin Powells, the Condoleezza Rices, the Ward Connerlys . . . We have to be careful with the black people who are put before us by the media.” She then segued right into a monologue about the 1960s FBI COINTELPRO program, noting that it had included a plan to replace Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a more moderate voice. Which, we can only conclude, pretty much sums up Obama’s sinister role in the scheme of things — or, at least, in the jumble that occupies the space between McKinney’s ears: He’s a government stooge.

Nothing really new here from the sad Ms. McKinney. You’ll recall that during her six terms as Democratic congresswoman from Atlanta, a post from which she was ousted a second time in 2006, she staged several similar outbursts. Though a champion, at least for a while, of liberal Democrats, McKinney rolled around in the usual sort of mud piles that surround Capitol Hill and at one point had to publicly apologize for using taxpayer money to fly Isaac Hayes around to perform at her fund-raisers.

But it was her bizarre public behavior and outrageous political positions more than her shady ethics that finally eroded her support. Apart from taking a haymaker swing at a Capitol Hill cop and beyond her solicitation of $10 million in social contributions from a Saudi prince, she was one of the first high-profile adherents of the official wack-job “9/11 Truth” movement, directly implicating the U.S. government in the staging of the attack on the Twin Towers. She made the charge — surprise, surprise — on Berkeley’s Pacifica Radio station, and then repeated it during a 2002 speech to the Congressional Black Caucus. After winning back her congressional seat in 2004, she put her signature on a “call for immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.”

The conspiracy charge hardly came out of the blue, as the McKinney family has established a rich tradition of public scapegoating. In the immediate aftermath of her defeat in the 2002 primary, her dad told reporters: “Jews have bought everybody . . . J-E-W-S.” Somehow she was re-elected to office in 2004, but was finally defeated again in 2006 by Hank Thompson, an African-American county commissioner who ran on a platform of, well, sanity.

So now the publicity-hungry McKinney is back, all dressed up as a presidential candidate, albeit of a third party, and being trundled around by the likes of Cindy Sheehan and other activists who have clearly gone ’round the bend. Anyone with even vaguely progressive inclinations ought to toss tomatoes at a charlatan like McKinney rather than applaud her. She’s an embarrassment and a fraud.

I’d say it’s a pity that the Greens are adopting her if it were not so predictable they would. There are some places in the world, like Germany, where the Green Party actually has some reality and some real influence (the Greens were part of the governing coalition there for much of the last decade). And at a time when consciousness about climate change and the environment in general is rapidly growing, the moment seems ripe for a movement or a party based on sustainable alternatives. But not the U.S. Greens.

I readily admit to having signed a public letter of endorsement of Green candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 and have never regretted it, though I was disappointed in the campaign he ran. He took criticism at the time from some fringies for not being lefty enough during his run, but I thought he pandered too much to the fragmented sects around him and didn’t run strongly enough as Ralph Nader the consumer advocate the country had admired for decades. His rerun in 2004, unfortunately, descended into farce. And if McKinney becomes the Green candidate this year, the party will have reached the level of shame and total irrelevance.

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