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The Outbreak Of Self Immolating Republicans

To set up a wave election you need a compelling national reason to fire the party in control of the Congress. Republicans have been looking for anything to make this happen. They believed that the Health Insurance Reform bill would be the ticket, however, as time has gone by and popular things like the end to pre-existing conditions for kids and the end of rescissions have started this issue has faded with the independent voters. They might still find something; after all there have been scandals like Rep. Eric Massa of New York and ethics problems like Rep. Charlie Rangel also of New York.

The thing is none of these have lead to a meme that suggests that the Democrats should be fired. A big part of this is that the Republicans candidates are making a habit of self-immolation.

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

It can happen at anytime in a campaign. Things are going along great, you are ahead in the polls then someone looks up, sniffs the air and asks “Do you smell smoke?” Then before you know it; Whoosh! Your candidate has said or done something that makes their candidacy burst into 70 foot tall flames. Self-immolation is an occupational hazard of running for office, but it seems the there is a rash of it in the Republican Party this cycle.

Take a look a Nevada Republican candidate Sue Lowden. You know her as the woman that put forward the chicken standard for medical bartering. While there is still some of this informal style of payment in rural areas it was always a nutty idea. It was the kind of idea that plays well in a small setting with a bunch of true believers, but in a wider audience it’s failings (notably the fact that you are not going to be able to pay a hospital for tests or surgery with livestock or handyman work) jump out at everyone.

While this gaff was bad, it was only the smell of smoke for Ms. Lowden. What really brought the flames on was her inability to back away from the statement for months. She went on to defend it, then even made a commercial referencing it, while trying to score a point about Sen. Reid’s campaign not being serious.

This towering pyre has been given a couple of shots of gasoline lately. First off Ms. Lowden, when directly quoted her words on TV denied that she had ever said she was not backing down from the statement. The other is probably more important over all. In the past few days it has come to light that one of her supporters had given her a bus style RV which is valued around $100,000.

This is what is called an “in-kind” contribution. It is the same as if an office supply store gave you a copier to use for your campaign or a restaurant let you use their staff at no cost. There is nothing wrong with in-kind donations, they are often the life blood of smaller election campaigns. The issue is that Ms. Lowden and her campaign did not report this enormous donation. It would be three times the biggest contribution she has claimed according to Open Secrets.

In the same vein as the Chicken Standard Ms. Lowden’s campaign is claiming that it did not need to be claimed as a donation since it was a lease. The problem here is that the Nevada DMV does not recognize private leases and Ms. Lowden was added to the tile of the RV. Whoosh!

Ms. Lowden is not the only Republican who seems to have the self-immolation syndrome. We have seen Meg Whitman go from being the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination with a one time 50 point lead on her challenger Steve Poizner to a a nine point lead in less than 60 days. A big part of this is the way that the former E-Bay executive has frozen out the press in California. All of this is after spending more than 45 million dollars. Reports of her staging the crowd at town halls and having security remove reporters are the kind of mistakes you can’t afford if you want to win state wide. Whoosh!

Then there is former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who put out the infamous and hilarious “Demon Sheep” web ad. Whoosh!

Then we come to the Dr. Rand Paul of Kentucky, within a day of his trouncing the hand picked favorite of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell he went on both NPR and the Rachel Maddow Show, covered himself with metaphorical gasoline and started playing with a Zippo lighter. Just like Sue Lowden, he said things that he had said in the small and favorable environment of right wing politics. Just like Lowden he stood by the points that had won him approval within his own party and just like Lowden he has gone Whoosh!

Sen. McConnell must be gritting his teeth together so hard that they making cracking sounds! Not only does someone from the troublesome Tea Party base of his party kick the ever living crap out of his candidate, but the day after the Republican Party has been forced to clutch him to their bosom he turns out to be a viper. A viper that is on fire.

All of this goes to refute the meme that the Villagers in the Washington media have been pushing; namely that the Democratic Party was in for a trouncing this fall. One of the things which is required for a wave election is a meme for firing the majority party. There has to be a crystallizing idea the seems to sum up why they should not be in charge. It is not enough to have anger and frustration.

Take a look at the Democratic take over the House and Senate in 2006. There was a lot of discontent and anger in the electorate, but the Democrats were mostly running on “we’re not George Bush and the Republicans”. This had some substantive points to it, the Democrats were talking about ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (which frankly they have failed to do) but beyond that it was mostly stoking anger.

Then the scandals of that year started to break. There were Bob Ney and Curt Weldon who were both dogged by criminal investigations. There were other Republicans like former Governor of Ohio Bob Taft who plead no contest to receiving gifts from lobbyists without reporting them. And then there was the capper, the Mark Foley sex scandal where he was accused (and pretty well shown to actually have) of soliciting sex from Congressional Pages.

All this led to the public having epiphany that they were ready to fire the Republican Party as the majority party of the Congress. Until the Republicans can start to field a really credible slate of high profile candidates there is no room for a meme needed to replace the Democrats to grow. Right now all they have is that they are not the Democrats, and while that plays well in a mood of frustration, it is not enough to push a party as a whole to electoral victory. As long as the public is hearing the Whoosh of high profile Republicans self-destructing they won’t be ready to listen.

The floor is yours.

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Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for Govtrak.org

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