Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Mississippi Republican runoff

This was such a weird primary.

Thad Cochran seemingly had been sleepwalking his way through it. There were even suggestions he wasn't much interested in running for another term. He certainly didn't act like he was interested, not until Chris McDaniel narrowly beat him in the first go-round.

McDaniel's narrow loss to Cochran in the run-off has the challenger making loud noises about voter fraud while letting surrogates make the more inflammatory suggestion that blacks essentially stole the election from him. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, mocked Cochran's campaign slogan as "Uncle Toms for Thad". You're a class act, Rush.

I actually wouldn't give a shit about this — I don't live there and anybody Mississippi sends to the Senate is likely to piss me off anyway — except that I find myself on the horns of an ethical dilemma.

McDaniel is not that far from David Duke as far as I'm concerned. He consorts with neo-Confederates and his rhetoric is dog-whistle racist. He is, not to put too fine a point on it, despicable. (I don't agree with his policies, either, but bad policies don't make somebody despicable.)

Yet I can't help feeling viscerally in agreement with him that Republicans ought to decide who their candidate will be.

Mississippi may have a good reason for not restricting voters to their own party in a primary election. I'm darned if I can guess what it is, though. It just seems logical that the opposition party shouldn't be allowed to play spoiler.

Now, to play devil's advocate for a moment: is it possible disgruntled or alarmed Republicans were actually the key to Cochran's victory? Josh Marshall thinks it is. We won't know unless somebody does a close (and non-partisan) investigation of the results. But even if that turns out to be the case, Democrats will have helped.

I'll be happy if Chris McDaniel never attains national public office. He shows every indication that if elected to the U.S. Senate, he would be a mindlessly obstructive clown along the lines of Ted Cruz (not to mention an unapologetically prejudiced twit). But the way he was kept from being the Republican nominee yesterday doesn't sit well with me.

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