By Mark Thornton, Laurel Leader Call, October 31, 2014
It’s no secret that I supported Chris McDaniel for Senate. And it’s also no secret that I thought he should concede after the run-off, with his credibility intact, and live to fight another day.
He had exposed the despicable tactics of the state’s Republican Establishment, and conservatives were ticked off. They were ready to follow him wherever he wanted to take them. He could’ve won any office he wanted.
One day, he’ll still be able to, but it will take a little image-repair work. The same machine that took a win-at-all-costs approach to beat back his bid to unseat six-term U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran have successfully sullied his reputation.
They’ve painted his principled fight against the system as a fool’s errand by a selfish, egomaniacal brat. That’s a shame. But it’s part of the plan, too. By putting the focus on him and the election challenge, they’ve taken the spotlight off the real bad guys in this debacle — the power brokers of the Republican Party, who propped up Cochran, a la “Weekend at Bernie’s,” for their own bought-and-paid-for reasons.
Privately, a few of them have said, unapologetically, that no rules were broken and, hey, this is the way it is in big-boy politics. That’s understandable. I’m not some hand-wringing namby-pamby who is naive about the ways of the world.
Courting the Democratic vote to win a primary is one thing … But to sacrifice one of your own promising young leaders, with race-baiting and promising God-knows-what to your lifelong opponents … well, that’s un- acceptable.
Even worse than their tactics, though, has been their reaction to them. They’ve been unapologetic and unwilling to explain why they did what they did. I could at least start to respect someone who was willing to step up and admit something like: “Getting a Republican majority was so important that we were willing to win at all costs for the betterment of the state and the country. I’m ashamed that we had to take down a really good man to do that. It’s one of the unpleasant things about politics. I’m not proud of the way we did it, but we’re going to work every day to make you proud and to make up for the unsavory way that we stayed in power.”
That’s a speech you won’t hear, though, because it sounds too honest. Truth is, it wouldn’t be honest at all. The Cochran camp isn’t going to do a damned thing for you and me. They won’t answer our questions about the election because they know what happened is indefensible.
They’re all just circling the wagons so they can keep their little ring of power. That’s why they got Cochran to run one more time, against his will (several sources close to him have said) and that’s why they’re all being so complimentary of him, his service and what he can do for the state while the country continues to go trillions of dollars in debt. It’s not so they can do something for you. It’s so they can do something for themselves. Each of them is hoping to be appointed to replace him in a couple of years. And if they can’t be the man, they at least want to stay on the gravy train.
That’s why they keep avoiding the questions and demonizing Chris. It’s easier than explaining what they did.
Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Phil Bryant was here for the local economic development banquet. His handlers sent word to local media representatives that he would be available for a few questions before the event, but “politics is off limits.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. If you were a party to doing something you can’t defend, maybe you shouldn’t have done it. After all, this is big-boy politics, right? Scrutiny is part of it. I ignored the request and worked in a question about his friendship with Chris and endorsement of Cochran, which he graciously answered before being whisked away to the event.
I believe that Thad Cochran is a Southern gentleman. But like so many others who have been in power too long, he’s become a political prostitute. And considering that he allowed himself to be controlled to even run again tells me that someone else will be pulling the strings when he gets back in office. That’s why I feel better voting for Childers than I would pulling the lever for Cochran. At least the Democratic nominee is his own man.
A vote for Cochran is a vote for everything I deplore about politics.