What a wild 24 hours. As we always say at Y’allPolitics, “you can’t make this stuff up”. I’ll leave the historical perspective for another post because there’s more urgent business to attend to, but suffice it to say, this is rare political turf upon which we tread.
First to the McDaniel campaign. I really thought that McDaniel had squeezed every last vote out of his base on June 3. I was wrong. Though I think the folks he surrounded himself with made some real missteps throughout the campaign and may not have been ready for the spotlight, I certainly admire the effort and energy. It’s truly laudable. I also get the level of frustration that’s out there. Though McDaniel voters don’t believe it, most Cochran voters share the same level of dissatisfaction for what is happening in DC. Below is a post from McDaniel supporter Russ Latino, and I think he does a good job of encapsulating the thought process.
I think Thad Cochran has an obligation at some level say “I get it – I understand your frustration and I’m committed to doing something about it”. Personally, I believe he does get it. As I’ve said on multiple occasions, he’s not given to the histrionic fits that I think might make others feel like he “feels their pain” enough. That’s just not how he’s wired.
I also think that both campaigns did things that at one point or the other made their own supporters wince. No need to go tit-for-tat. But I think reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and have honest disagreements and that’s ok.
Now, for the slightly more unpleasant part.
Chris McDaniel needs to unconditionally surrender. In a hard fought battle, especially a political one, everyone’s going to have justifications for doing what they do. But this nomination process is OVER. The party chair Joe Nosef has essentially said
“put up or shut up” on this challenge business. While McDaniel voters may have a bitter taste because eligible voters they didn’t like voted for the opponent, that’s just crying over spilt milk.
All I can tell you is this. I’ve lived in Mississippi all my life. I’m a Republican, though you wouldn’t believe it from reading the unhinged/paid twitter zealots. But I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans. If someone tells you they’ve never voted for a Democrat and they're over 40 in Mississippi, they’re either lying or they don’t vote very much. I’ve voted in municipal and county races where that was the only race on the ticket. Even McDaniel has done it
(in 2003), which is fine. But he can’t now say it’s not OK just because he’s on the wrong end of it. Politics is a tough business. Sometimes you’re the hammer. Sometimes you’re the nail.
However, the standards are different as a candidate. If you run as a Republican and then refuse to support the party nominee, you are not a Republican. You are an anarchist. Unfortunately, McDaniel’s behavior in the last 24 hours seems to vindicate what 50.9% of the electorate thought. That he’s an unhinged, “burn the house down” zealot without the maturity to handle the job he was chasing. If he ran as an independent or a tea party candidate, that’s one thing. Act however the hell you want. But you can’t seek the Republican party’s nomination, not get it and then not endorse the nominee. That’s not being principled. That’s just being stupid (and hypocritical).
And Joe Nosef and Phil Bryant in my opinion should be at the tip of the spear to either publicly or privately encourage McDaniel to get out with some dignity. If McDaniel gets out honorably (like Reagan did in ’76), he makes supporters and maybe even some of his detractors think that he has maturity for another run down the road. Chris McDaniel, Michael Watson, Melanie Sojourner, Angela Hill, Tony Smith, David Parker and Chris Massey need to stand on a stage together and Chris needs to endorse Thad. All of the kookiness happening nationally from Rush Limbaugh
, Glenn Beck
and Sean Hannity
is again confirming what 50.9% of eligible voters in the runoff already thought. The inmates are apparently running the asylum. All of this ends when McDaniel gets on stage and gets on board.
And I’m going to let McDaniel in on a little secret, though my hope is that there are some sane people around him that care about him and his future that can put their arms around him and tell him the truth. Though he may be the “flavor of the month” to the talk radio and tea party crowd, they don’t give a rip-roaring crap about him. He’s expendable to them. He’s a push pin on a map. The national money groups are falling into line QUICKLY. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, too. A week from now, they won’t be talking about him. A month from now, Hannity/Beck/Limbaugh/Levin will have trouble remembering McDaniel’s name. The only thing to settle at this point is his legacy. Will Chris McDaniel be a pejorative like Todd Akin or Sharon Angle or Christine O’Donnell or can he save his own brand and political future by being honorable (and more pointedly being an adult)?
What I do know is this. 51 is the only number that matters
. Elections are about choices. I’ve been on the wrong side of votes more times that I care to remember. Sometimes I was right about what I thought the result was and sometimes I wasn’t. That’s called being an adult and knowing that, despite your best thoughts and efforts and intentions, sometimes your compass doesn’t always point true north, no matter how convinced you are that it does.
The US Senate race in Mississippi has the following choices . . . Thad Cochran or Harry Reid/Barack Obama. And staying home is a de facto vote for Reid/Obama. The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good.
McDaniel better get on board and get on board quick or he will have only proven that what his detractors thought about him was exactly right. And in the end if he doesn’t find a graceful exit, people will only remember his ego and not the message he tried to deliver.
As stated on multiple occasions, the author of this piece has made a reportable contribution in this race. Please factor that into your reading.
Posted June 25, 2014 - 11:28 pm