Say what you will about the midterm elections, but they've been a hell of a ride. I'm a little sad to see that Sharron Angle's handlers are beginning to just reduce her public appearances rather than risk her telling another Hispanic voter that he/she "looks Asian", but one thing we're learning is that no matter how much the GOP establishment cracks down, the renegade candidates are just hard to control. Because of this, the usual metrics for understanding elections are getting all fucked up. Usually the polling data two weeks out is nearly set in stone, but in a lot of races, that's not as true as it usually is.
Take, for instance, the beauty that is Joe Miller's campaign. Miller is great because he's an unrepentant asshole, and seems to have a real problem understanding why that's a problem. As Salon reports, Miller has decided that an imperious disdain for the press is a great electoral strategy, dodging debates so that he looks like a less legitimate candidate, and of course, having his goon squad detain a reporter because, at the end of the day, Miller thinks he's just too good for ordinary politician stuff like talking to the press or even appearing to care about accountability. Salon points out that Miller's brilliant "fuck the press" strategy isn't working out as well as planned, because just because you try to intimidate and shut out the press doesn't mean they're not going to write articles about you. In fact, it's a good way to make sure those articles are increasingly negative.
The Salon article, by Alexandra Gutierrez, ends with this thought:
Warring with the state media has clearly hurt Miller -- but the damage may not be fatal.
Well, it's true that Miller's over-the-top assholery endears him to the wingnut base, for much the same reason that they like Carl Paladino. Like attracts like, and the asshole base loves their assholes. I'm sure more than a few right wing bloggers, for instance, get a little hard thinking about how donating to Miller quiets the relentless internal questions about if they're man enough for an entire 3-4 minutes. And it's true that Miller is tied with Murkowski in the polls, even though he started off with a double digit lead. So he could win this thing.
But there's two weeks to go. In ordinary political time, that's not too long. But in Tea Party time, that's something like a billionity years. Going two whole weeks without stirring up more shit is going to be the hardest thing Joe Miller has ever had to do in his life. I'm sure that, given the choice between running a marathon with no training and having to go two whole weeks without having his goons rough up a member of the press, he'd probably pick the former. But that's far from the only thing he'll have to refrain from doing. There's also keeping his big, fat mouth shut, and not beefing with Sarah Palin in the press, a beef that makes everyone involved look like children having a rock fight. Except, when wingnuts do it, there's way more misspelled and randomly capitalized press releases, Facebook posts, and leaked emails involved.
Christine O'Donnell is toast already, so her continuing to open her big, fat mouth is just a matter of entertainment from here on out. But Sharron Angle has two more weeks to lose this thing, and I think she can do a great job of it, if she really puts her mind to it. Her campaign has taken a turn from the strictly nutty to the racist-and-nutty, which shows she's not afraid to expand and grow as a public wingnut. Plus, I think some people are beginning to see it's totally unfair to go after Christine O'Donnell for saying stupid shit in public, and not going after Angle with the same ferocity for saying exactly the same stupid shit. For instance, as Rachel Maddow pointed out, Angle said basically the same stupid shit about the separation of church and state a few months ago, and it didn't get nearly the same press coverage. There's two whole weeks to continue to raise a stink about that. I'd note that Nevada in particular would not do well economically under the theocracy proposed by Angle and O'Donnell. Theocrats aren't really known for smiling upon the various activities that make Las Vegas so much money, for instance.
I will say that I've been disappointed in Rand Paul. He really started out strong, denouncing the Civil Rights Act, but when the GOP came knocking, he started submitting pretty quickly. But while he's been able to stay relatively quiet in the mainstream press, he seems like he's willing to really go all out these last two weeks. First of all, there's been his over the top reaction to the Conway ad. Wingnuts do like it when one of their own plays up being a victim, but if you take it too far, it can hurt you with swing voters. Plus, the more he panics, the more the story about the way he used to bash evangelicals gets out in the press. (I'm not the first, nor the last, to suggest that this is probably his only trait that I like. But it's not really a great way to turn out the Republican vote in Kentucky.) And just this morning, Matt Taibbi has more reporting on Paul's college society the NoZE Brotherhood. (Hat tip.) See, his "Brotherhood" had a newsletter, and they published a lot of stupid stuff, but also really racist stuff.
Then there's another piece that jokes about a chimpanzee giving birth to a "negroid" baby called "Monkey Saw, Monkey Did." The ostensible occasion of the satirical article is the chimp giving birth to a "scrapping [sic] Anglo-Saxon baby":
"Biological history was made last week at the Cen-Tex Zoo when eight year old Fifi, chimpanzee and friend to many, gave a wide birth to a scrapping Anglo-Saxon male."
The piece goes on:
"We were really kind of surprised, we've pulled an occasional negroid, one Shetland pony, and a couple of trout we had to throw back, but this beats the hell out of a two-headed calf.
But rest assured, Paul only doesn't support the CRA because of some ideological purity for libertarians thing. One that doesn't hold when it comes to the state forcing women to give birth, of course.
There's even more from Taibbi about Paul's college newsletter and the racist shit they'd print. Here's a sample from 1983:
Baylor officials are hard pressed to combat the newest cultural force sweeping the Southwest: Latinoization. First Mexican food, then Mexican dresses, and now Latin lifestyle is overrunning the established, Anglo-Saxon ideals that are fundamental to the Baylor experience. This onslaught is causing concern at all levels. A.A. Hyden, Vice president for student affairs and part time blockmother lamented, 'It's increasingly difficult to get students to class on time. Also there is an apparent relationship between the decreased enrollment in afternoon classes and the number of undergraduates falling asleep in the SUB after 2:00.' This concern over the lack of get-up-and-go on the part of students was echoed in the sentiments of greenman Nick Wilson. 'Ever time you pick up your foot. You 'bout step on somebody.'
Taibbi, no doubt trying to avoid the tedious discussion about the definition of the word "racist" that often overwhelms the actual words or action in question, says that the important thing about this is that Paul was an imperious fuckhead in college, and he hasn't changed since. If he had, he would have given up the adolescent fascination with libertarianism, and the childish rationalizing of himself as ideologically pure (except for the glaring times when he's not, *cough*, abortion rights). Personally, I think there's a quacks like a duck thing going on with libertarians who make racist jokes and then support racist policies. Perhaps their ideological purity is the excuse they use for why they simply have to support racist policies, even while they claim they'd rather not---it's a way to have it both ways, in other words.