Monday, March 12, 2018

If Lamb Wins Tomorrow, The DC Dems Will Walk Away With The Wrong Lesson... As Usual


Tomorrow is election day in PA-18-- an election in a dismal district that will cease to exist immediately after the votes are counted. Whomever wins-- a shit Democrat (Conor Lamb) or a shit Republican (Rick Saccone)-- will have to run in a different district in November... and PA-18 is divided between a really red district for Saccone and a competitive district leaning blue either for Lamb or, hopefully, a better Democrat. Lamb is a Blue Dog who defines what it means to be a political coward. There's no enthusiasm for him and if he wins it will be only because voters hate Trump and want to let him know. I've been writing about that for weeks. Turns out, Republicans are as unhappy with Saccone as Democrats are with Lamb. Even Trumpanzee realizes how bad Saccone sucks. Trump thinks Saccone is is a terrible, "weak" candidate and Republican leaders have been bellyaching ever since it looked that Saccone could lose that "Lamb is a far superior candidate to Saccone and running a far better campaign. Lamb is running effectively as Republican Lite. He's pro-gun and says he personally opposes to abortion (though he supports abortion rights). The thing that most irks senior Republicans involved in the race: Saccone has been a lousy fundraiser. Lamb has outraised Saccone by a staggering margin-- nearly 500 percent... Should Saccone lose, Republicans will be quick to describe his loss as meaningless and will argue it's not a bellwether for November's elections. They'll say he was a terrible candidate and that his loss should be a wake-up call to other Republican candidates who may be getting lazy about their fundraising."

This weekend, an editorial in the Washington Observer-Reporter bemoaned the lack of bipartisanship and saw that GOP-liteness in Lamb and endorsed him.
[E]ither candidate would probably be able and competent when it comes to representing the 18th Congressional District. But we believe one of the two candidates would be better positioned to be the kind of moderate, conciliatory figure that is needed in this tempestuous moment in our political life, and that is Conor Lamb.
And they like him for the very reasons most Democrats are unenthusiastic: he "has refrained from full-frontal attacks on Trump" and he backs fracking. Across the state, the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a more in-depth look at Lamb's shortcomings from a columnist who used to live in PA-18 and write for the same Washington Observer-Reporter, Will Bunch. He referred to Trump's imbecilic foray into the district Saturday as "a desperate, 11th-hour bid to prop up sagging GOP congressional candidate Rick Saccone and described Trump's speech as "racist and misogynistic, autocratic bordering on fascism," a "freestyle egomaniacal monologue."

He worked there in the early '80s and he remembers "trying to figure out why schools were closed and public officials all vanished on December 1 (it was the first day of deer season!)."
Some 35 years of additional oxidation later, it’s a place seemingly tailor-made for a candidate like Lamb-- smart, good-looking and with an impeccable resume that includes stints as an attorney for the Marines and a federal prosecutor. Handpicked for the special election by local Democratic bosses, which meant he didn’t have to face a primary electorate that has been moving left, even in the Rust Belt, Lamb seems to bring everything you’d want in Deer Hunter country.

Except enthusiasm.

I was struck reading my colleague Jonathan Tamari’s recent reporting from the district, where Democratic and middle-of-the-road voters seem truly energized… about sending Trump a one-fingered salute. Conor Lamb? Meh. Wrote Tamari: “Outside Lamb’s rally with Biden at Robert Morris University, several Democrats said they wished Lamb was closer to their views on guns, abortion, and wealth disparity. But even those who described themselves as liberal still wore Lamb campaign pins, saying he gave them the best shot to win here-- and send a message to Trump.” Typical was voter Evelyn Harris, who told the Inquirer reporter that Lamb is “not as far left as I’d like.”

These are the voters who deliver special elections, and they may do so on Tuesday because of antipathy for Trump, not because of any love for Lamb. And there’s a lot for the Democratic base and voters on the left not to like about their special-election candidate. Although ostensibly pro-union, Lamb won’t support a $15 living wage. His attacks on fellow Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are more than a tad awkward in this season of #MeToo politics. But then, Lamb goes out of his way to not mention that he’s a Democrat, or discuss any policy at all other than he’s for “working people.”

While there’s no dispute that Western Pennsylvania leans right on guns, Lamb’s passion for weaponry-- he filmed a campaign spot firing an AR-15-- is shameful in a political moment dominated by the Parkland massacre. Hours after a teen gunman mowed down 17 people in the corridors of that Florida high school, Lamb (who mildly supports stronger background checks and thus sits a tad left of his fellow gun zealot Saccone) said, “I believe we have a pretty good law on the books.” Since Parkland, Florida’s NRA-backed Gov. Rick Scott has shown more gumption on guns than Lamb. Let that sink in. Sometimes firing an assault rifle for the camera isn’t a mark of political courage but cowardice.

That said, the Tea Party-backed Saccone, a Trump acolyte, would be measurably worse than Lamb. Still, one senses-- given rising rage toward Trump, his abusive governing style and his trail of broken promises-- that Democrats would vote for Being There‘s slow-witted Chauncey Gardiner if they believed it would deliver a blow to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The numbers bear that out. In a slew of special elections since the start of 2017, Democrats have shown the greatest gains in areas that went for Trump-- regardless of the candidate.

The thing is, a Lamb victory on Tuesday might give Democrats exactly the wrong lesson-- that all they need to do is fire a few rounds from their semi-automatic and mansplain Pelosi and they can buy a one-way ticket to Reagan National-- going into the wider 2018 midterms. What has really explained the rising fortunes of Democrats, including special-election wins in red states and gains in places like Virginia? A new study by two top political scientists has found one giant X-factor-- the surge in energy from mostly suburban women, especially in the 30-70 age bracket.

“The new upsurge is not centered in the progressive urban enclaves where most national pundits live; nor is it to be found among the grizzled men in coal country diners where journalists escape to get out of the bubble,” write Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol in the journal Democracy. “Neither of those poles looks much like most of America anyway. About half the country lives in the suburbs, twice the number who live in either fully urban or rural settings. More than half of Americans are also women-- and of those, half are in their thirties to sixties. It is in this Middle America, and among these Middle Americans, that political developments since the November 2016 election have moved fastest and farthest.”

Putnam, who teaches not far from PA-18 at the University of Pittsburgh, adds that she “has come to believe there is an epochal ‘generation’ in the making: a cohort of Americans for whom life-cycle stage and personal trajectory collided with public events-- the election of Donald Trump; the Women’s Marches and calls to action that followed-- in ways that changed life after life in very similar, and very consequential, directions.” Needless to say, Conor Lamb, his AR-15, or other Democrats who wish to imitate him don’t do a lot to move these voters. This isn’t the only way forward; another new study published in the Times last weekend urged the Democrats to push to regain a few million young and mostly nonwhite Obama voters who failed to show up at the pols in 2016; that wouldn’t mean so much in predominantly white PA-18, but it could sway key Senate races from Texas to Ohio. That, and tapping into the energy of angry, anti-Trump women. Playing for the God, guns and gold crowd that went ga-ga for Trump in 2016 seems a much lower priority-- especially when it might drive away the first two groups.

But if the past is prologue, Beltway Democrats are going to get the wrong message from whatever happens on Tuesday. The worst plan for moving past the Trump nightmare would surely be to lead a flock of “Lambs” into November, some of whom will surely be slaughtered at the polls.

The brand new Monmouth poll-- certainly the last poll we'll see before the exit polls tomorrow-- came out this morning. Looks like pretty bad news for Saccone and the Republicans; maybe Trump's rally over the weekend made their position even worse. They're already calling it "a Democratic district." The PVI is R+11. and the DCCC has been funding Lamb's campaign stealthily.

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At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats still haven't learned the lesson that Hillary's loss should have taught. Why anyone now believes that the Party can learn from their losses and change astounds me.

At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Still, we want Lamb to win anyway.

Trump mocked past Presidents in his speech in PA. He mocks the whole conception of the office. He is beyond disgusting and evil.

At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will you still believe that when Lamb votes with Republicans like the new Alabama Senator Doug Jones has, Hone? Why should the Party push DINO-Whigs who vote with the political opposition? Does this not defeat the purpose of putting up candidates for office?

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Because Lamb is for working people.

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How lamb votes is irrelevant. If the democraps fuck up and win a majority in November, then how he votes will be ... irrelevant.

The only one that will count in that case is Pelosi who will determine what is and what is not done. I'm sure lamb will vote however the money decides he should. Just like dougie.

Or has Hone et al already forgotten 2009?

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lamb is for himself.

The lesson, as it always has been, is that if the Rs conduct enough of a shit-show and the Ds run someone who is just like a republican, they can win a red seat every so often... for one cycle.
It also helps if the D is younger and better looking.

But it's still for only the one cycle. Once the democraps prove, again, that they are worthless, those democraps will lose.

Or does NOBODY remember 2010?


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