Chris McDaniel’s defeat in Mississippi’s GOP primary has set off a temper tantrum on the right. McDaniel won’t concede. Radio talk-show host Sean Hannity demanded that viewers not vote for the “despicable” (!) Republican in the general election. (Sen. Harry Reid agrees.) Rush Limbaugh grotesquely called African Americans who voted for Sen. Thad Cochran “Uncle Toms.” And Sarah Palin cried foul – how dare those nonwhite, non-Republicans vote for Cochran — calling on him to investigate “illegal” voting. (The point, someone might explain, is to expand the people who will vote for a Republican.) Granted, these people were humiliated first by the shutdown fiasco and then in backing a string of crackpot candidates, but there is no excuse for this behavior.
Republicans would be smart to condemn the utterances and then to deprive these characters of the attention and ratings they crave. The only platform they have disappears if their audience concludes that they are the poster boys and girls for what is wrong with the right. (Unfortunately, a great number of pols and conservative media figures who should no better will be silent. Afraid to incur the wrath of those who utter racial epithets and otherwise display in full view their quackery? Yes, welcome to the cowering world of Beltway politics and media.)
Certainly, there is something bizarre about the reaction to Cochran’s win. The Post notes, “An intensive strategy over the past three weeks to draw black voters to the polls and spare Cochran from what once seemed like a certain defeat at the hands of a tea party challenger in Tuesday’s GOP runoff appears to have worked.” Rather than take notes, the far right is incensed, calling all that voting “irregular”:
Cochran and other Mississippi Republicans have long sought to lure at least a portion of black voters in general-election campaigns. African Americans make up more than a third of the state’s electorate. The push to draw blacks to the polls in a Republican primary was highly unusual. It appears to have been orchestrated largely by pro-Republican groups aligned with Cochran and groups connected to black political leaders and ministers. Ads that ran in African American newspapers stressed Cochran’s support for historically black colleges, a medical facility that serves a heavily minority community in Jackson and the farm bill, which includes food-stamp funding.
This is cause for outrage on the right? Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been trying for months to court African American voters and to his credit applauded the idea of going out to get more votes. The Republican National Committee should encourage candidates in other states to duplicate the Cochran model. Hey, Republicans might actually gain new adherents.
It took Club for Growth, which threw more than $3 million into McDaniel’s coffers, to be the voice of reason. Its president, Chris Chocola, told The Post: “What they did in Mississippi just from a pure electoral standpoint is amazing. That was an accomplishment, to expand the electorate in a runoff by getting people to vote that are not your natural constituency. So you’ve got to give them credit for figuring out how to do that.” Well, at least someone has a clue in the right-wing camp.
By Wednesday, Club for Growth and other sane voices on the right were trying to shut down (and shut up) McDaniel. Good luck with that. They might not have noticed, but this is not a man amenable to reason or prone to graciousness.
Perhaps next time the right-wing groups will find men and women with strong character and political skills who can attract a wide spectrum of voters. Hey, they might get Mitt Romney (whose record this cycle in picking primary Senate winners is perfect) to help with their candidate selection next time. If there is a next time for groups that wasted millions of dollars given by their donors.