Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Lamb in Wolf's Clothing

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"(H)e said he would not support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader if a blue wave swept the House in 2018, echoing his support for the Second Amendment, and telling voters he personally doesn’t believe in abortion,,," - Ella Nilsen, Vox, 3/14/18
It wasn't an "upset." Let's just get that out of the way right now.
      Capping off a wild, almost surrealistic day that dragged well into the morning like a party that didn't have the sense to quit, Conor Lamb edged out Rick Saccone in PA18. It was a day in which three administration officials were fired, including the Secretary of State, one Cabinet official (Mike Pompeo) tentatively snapped off at Langley and snapped on at Foggy Bottom to replace Tillerson. And it was also a day in which famed physicist Stephen Hawking, who was born exactly 300 years after Galileo died, passed away on Einstein's birthday and National Pi Day.
     Lamb won by just 627 votes in a district in which he was unknown until January, that Trump took in 2016 by about 20 points. With about 227,000 votes cast, those 627 votes comes out to a 0.2% difference. Luckily for Lamb, Pennsylvania's election laws don't mandate an automatic recount if certain thresholds aren't reached in non state-wide races. If Saccone wants a recount, he'll have to pay for it out of his pocket.
     This special election was billed throughout this winter as a David vs Goliath battle in which Lamb didn't stand a chance. Trump went to PA18 twice, dispatched Don Jr and Ivanka to stump for him in the 11th hour, timed his tariff announcement so Saccone could revel in its dubious reflected glory. The RNC and right wing special interest groups pumped $10.7 million in mostly out of state money. Nonetheless, Conor Lamb, who'd outraised Saccone by a margin of over 4 to 1, persisted.
     Yet as many of the races in last year's pre midterm elections showed time and again, even winning Democrats are too scared to run as true progressives in Bernie Sanders' mold. They're more inclined to be #Stillwithher than Bernie Bros. And last December, Doug Jones, the bluest of the Blue Dogs, proved that when he beat Roy Moore by just 1.5% in crimson Alabama. The GOP had enjoyed a 15 year stranglehold on PA18, due entirely to the incumbency of Tim Murphy, who was forced to resign last year when it came out that he pressured his paramour to have an abortion.
     But Lamb is personally as much a pro-lifer as Murphy was purported to be. He was also pro-gun, pro-tariff and pro-coal. It was essentially a sheep in wolf's clothing opposing the actual thing. In fact, Lamb was so right wing during his brief campaign that House Republicans and the Trump White House are even claiming credit for his win by bringing up that he was aligned with Trump's policies. In fact, last night Lamb actually thanked Trump supporters for voting for him, giving additional insight as to why his nickname is "Lamb the sham."
     That's not entirely true. Nor is it entirely untrue.

I Am Number Five
So, the US House Democrats shift a bit more toward its goal of retaking that chamber this November. But at what cost?
     Lamb essentially beat a guy who'd shamelessly billed himself as "Trump before Trump was Trump." Saccone is either an idiot who can't read the tea leaves or he had a lousy focus group. That group should've reminded him that the last four guys in a row Trump had personally endorsed had crashed and burned (Luther Strange being #3 and Roy Moore being #4). The reason Lamb had won was because he brilliantly and sleazily embraced Trump's policies without even mentioning Trump's name. In other words, hate the sinner but love the sin.
     Saccone's mistake was in synonymizing Trump's name with his policies. Remember, the Affordable Care Act is popular among a lot of right wingers until you call it by its colloquial name, Obamacare. And Saccone didn't stop there: He wanted to remind people that he was Trump 1.0, the prototype.
     This special election was billed, as were all the ones going back to last year, as a referendum on Trump's policies, another bellwether of the so-called bloodbath to come this November, Yet in last year's pre-midterms, Blue Dog after Blue Dog got elected with very few actual progressives winning more than state-wide seats. And many of them were races just as tight as last night's, meaning liberal voters who salivate over a Sanders/Warren 2020 ticket aren't yet ready to embrace the FrankenDemocrats exemplified by Conor Lamb and Doug Jones.
     It proved nothing except that so-called Democrats such as Conor Lamb haven't got the guts or the ideological purity to run as actual progressives, especially in red states such as Alabama or districts such as PA18. And now, all the Democratic pundits are telling us that Trump lost Pennsylvania, a state he'd taken from Hillary by a mere 1.3 percentage points in the 11th hour trifecta of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that sealed his Russian-backed win.
     He did not. Trump is like a custodial parent who lost physical custody of a child but retained legal custody of it. Remember, Lamb would've lost this race if a few streets in PA18 went for the real deal. If it weren't for absentee ballots, which traditionally skew Democratic, he would have lost. He almost lost simply because he ran as a Democrat. Progressives stayed at home and waited for their real deal that will not arrive any more than had Godot.

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