A Disaster in Missouri

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, candidate for Republican gubernatorial nomination in August, 2016, committed suicide 26 February 2015, amid swirling rumors of a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy against him despite the fact that he was an Episcopalian.

That elections should not have death tolls is itself a grim enough statement insofar as there exist circumstances in the human endeavor requiring such reminders; but these are the United States of America, and, really, elections should not have death tolls.

Rachel Maddow tries to summarize the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich.

Tony Messenger, editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Had I not ignored his phone call to me at 9:41 Thursday morning — I was doing a thing at my kids’ school district — I might have been the last person to talk to the man who wanted to be governor. It made for a chilling day in which I decided to do something I’ve never done before as a reporter: reveal the contents of off-the-record conversations with a source. That source is now dead. I believe it’s what he would have wanted.

Mr. Messenger again, in an official statement released via the Post-Dispatch.

The story itself is unbelievable, not for any implication that this is something other than a suicide. Rather, the question of how and why things got so far out of hand.

Steve Kraske and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star bring us a statement from Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock that pretty much makes the point:

I would like to set the record straight, once and for all: Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography—no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom’s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainty was not attempting to “inject religion” into the governor’s race, as some have suggested (in fact, I have never met with donors or raised money on behalf of the Hanaway campaign).

If words seem to fail, there is a reason.

This is apparently the scandal at the heart of it all. This is apparently the reason Tom Schweich has killed himself.

Elections should not have death tolls. What is happening in our society that we are seeing these outcomes? How does having Jewish ancestry even come into play in the first place? And how is it that this is the second year in a row we have seen a suicide in a primary election?

____________________

Maddow, Rachel. “A shocking death in a harsh Republican primary in Missouri”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 27 February 2015.

Messenger, Tony. “From voicemail to voicemail: The short political life and times of Tom Schweich”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 February 2015.

—————. “Statement of Tony Messenger, Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor, on Schweich Death”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 26 February 2015.

Kraske, Steve and Dave Helling. “Missouri GOP chairman denies spreading rumors about Tom Schweich’s religion”. The Kansas City Star. 27 February 2015.

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