A Benchmark … Maybe?

The Mississippi Loser

Given the unpredictability of politics, such suggestions might seem somewhat naïve; yet one might legitimately wonder if, on the Republican side of things, you know some abstract limit has been violated when Jennifer Rubin comes out swinging:

As I’ve written previously, the far right’s reaction to Sen. Thad Cochran’s defeat of their pet tea party candidate Chris McDaniel in the Republican primary for U.S. senator from Mississippi has been unhinged and at times downright racist. Even the less hysterical voices are up in arms that Cochran’s tactics were unseemly or that the “establishment” betrayed them again.

Among the “sins” Cochran is accused of is finding African American leaders to help turn out the African American vote. (The nerve!) Unearthing egregiously offensive comments McDaniel made on his radio show (no!) and skewering McDaniel for campaign gaffes on everything from Katrina relief to support for the inane shutdown (mercy me!). The attitude that the “establishment” doesn’t have to crush the poor tea party folk every time, suggests, I guess, that there needs to be a mercy rule of the inept tea party (if they lose 10 races they get a freebie?).

I mean, really. Damn.

To the one, it is very easy to understand the hardliners’ horror and outrage. To the other, though, these are the United States and this is politics, so … right, toughen up—when did the party of Atwater and Rove, Levin and Limbaugh, become so flaccid?

And, to the beeblebrox, I think back to some video from 2009, a fifty-something white woman absolutely bawling about how she wanted her country back. The obvious question arose: Back from what? And that is just the thing. These are the people fighting to preserve entrenched privilege and the societal influence it brings. In 2010, Frank Rich observed, four years ago:

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

For Democrats, supporters, and sympathizers, the moment is a curious crystallization of a ha!, I told you so!, and, Now, wait a minute! And the idea that the GOP is coming apart at the seams? That rumors of schism swirl in the political winds? As the result of a campaign like we just saw in Mississippi? From whacked out break-in schemes to indecent liberties with farm animals to the Tea Party crying “no fair” because the incumbent tapped a traditionally ignored resource to smack down a racist, right-flank challenger, this should be funny.

Except it’s not. This thing has a death toll. And, you know, to a certain degree that outcome is nearly understandable; it is hard to fathom the burden of undertaking such a scheme, facing felony charges, and likely costing your candidate the election. Still, though, that only begs the question.

True enough, it ought to be significant of something when Jennifer Rubin turns on your efforts in the name of saving conservative politics from itself. But how did things get so far out of hand in the first place?


Rubin, Jennifer. “They can dish it out, but they can’t take it”. Right Turn. 29 June 2014.

Rich, Frank. “The Rage Is Not About Health Care”. The New York Times. 27 March 2010.

Maddow, Rachel. “Disaffected tea party eyes third party option”. The Rachel Maddow Show. 25 June 2014.

Hohmann, James. “Chris McDaniel aide slams GOP over apparent suicide”. Politico. 27 June 2014.

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