Tim Murphy at Mother Jones introduces Wes Riddle:
In mid-May, Texas Republican congressional candidate Wes Riddle posted a new note on his Facebook page. It was written by his spokesman, Garrett Smith, and it was dire. “The reasoning for President Obama’s impeachment,” Smith wrote, “begins with the fact that the State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to Russia.” According to the statement, Riddle—who has Rep. Ron Paul’s endorsement and stands a good chance of winning in November if he can make it out of next Tuesday’s runoff—believed that Obama’s unprecedented giveaway included at least one island the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, “billions of barrels of oil” from offshore deposits, and unknown strategic advantages…
There were a few problems with this indictment of Obama: The president hadn’t given away any islands; the treaty in question had been signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991; none of the islands, which are well on the other side of the international boundary, had ever been officially claimed by the United States; and Alaska’s two US senators at the time had publicly endorsed the measure. Smith’s rant, much of which was copied word for word from a WorldNetDaily article, was based on a falsehood.
Riddle, an Army veteran turned West Point instructor turned historic-theater owner, isn’t merely another commenter on the internet. He could be coming to Washington. A few days after this Facebook post on the Alaskan islands, he pulled in 15 percent of the vote in a crowded GOP primary for Texas’ 25th Congressional District, a solidly red splotch of central Texas that went to John McCain by 10 points in 2008. That was good enough to vault Riddle into next Tuesday’s runoff election…..
For Riddle, the stakes couldn’t be greater. In February, Riddle, who asserts that states have the authority to nullify federal laws they consider to be unconstitutional, posted an item on [his website] Horse Sense warning that Americans’ freedoms were being snuffed out in the name of well-meaning reforms like child labor laws, and no one was willing to do anything about it. “I JUST WISH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD LEAVE US ALONE,” he wrote, bursting into all-caps. But he feared Americans had grown too complacent. “[I]s another Robert E. Lee or Jeff Davis left anywhere in this unified, chained and tethered house of ours—locked down from the inside out?,” he wondered. “Is there a governor with backbone anywhere in the country to point out and even put an end to…(shall I name it? Are you willing to recognize it?). Tyranny.”
When I was a child, satirists like Lenny Bruce and MAD Magazine could use “Quemoy and Matsu” — another insignificant archipelago stranded between great political empires — as a shorthand for the paranoid grudge-fondling of Richard Nixon’s paleoconservative backers. Who knew that those revenants’ children and grandchildren would forge an alliance with the neo-confederates to keep combatting the progressive gains of the nineteenth century even into the twenty-first?