No, it’s not Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann or even Franklin Graham, although it’s part and parcel of the same phenomena: the triumph of idiocy over reason in American conservative “truthiness.” It’s not the debt ceiling fight (which should not be a fight at all, and isn’t really a dispute over should we default or shouldn’t we default, as if defaulting on the national debt is in the same league as not paying AmEx this month). No, the next great threat to the Republic is the question of who will replace a backbencher GOP Freshman if he’s tapped to replace the contemptible Senator John Ensign of Nevada when Ensign resigns his seat (sex scandal, natch) early next week.
The freshman mostly likely to replace the contemptible Ensign is GOP Representative Dean Heller, of Nevada’s 2rd congressional district. At issue: two competing state laws that outline two distinctly separate ways to replace him, and no legal precedent to point the way for GOP Governor Brian Sandoval.
(You’d think something like this would have happened before in Nevada, but apparently not.)
See, the thing is, if Heller goes up to the Senate — for which he’s already running, since Ensign had already announced his plans to retire at the end of this current Congress — someone will have to replace him, and that problem, that conumdrum, is giving Brian Sandoval fits.
Because the next person “in line,” as it were, is Sharron Angle.
You may recall Angle. She was the GOP nominee who ran against that sure loser Harry Reid in 2010, who took Reid’s state-wide unpopularity (across his own party, even) and converted it into Fear of Sharron, enabling Reid (who ran a disciplined, on-message campaign) to beat her like a gong.
At the outset of the 2010 campaign season, there was no incumbent more in danger of losing his seat than Harry Reid, nothwithstanding his position as Senator Majority Leader, an unparalleled post-position for re-election fundraising. And he was supposed to lose because the Nevada polity were fed-up with “business as usual” from “Dirty” Harry Reid and the Nevada GOP was enraged and engaged; they were going to take Reid down!
Except that, after a contentious nomination process, they picked Angle, an ultra-conservative from Reno, a former member of the state assembly well-known for her, um, unique positions on a range of issues and her rabid grassroots network of conservative Christians across Nevada and beyond. She is, and was, a Tea Party favorite who once fought the state of Nevada’s attempts to override its constitutional requirement of 2/3s approval to raise taxes — and won (Guinn v. Legislature); her devotion to the letter of the US Constitution has won her many TP hearts and dollars.
This is what we knew about Sharron Angle before her nomination for U.S. Senate:
- She was first inspired to get into politics because a dream a friend had about Angle and Deborah, the Old Testament Prophetess and first female Judge of Israel;
- She so often voted against issues of broad consensus in the 42-member NV Assembly that such votes were often called “41-to-Angle.”
- She successfully led the Nevada legislature to sue the Governor (above);
- She advocated a prison recidivism program (tried and abandoned in New Mexico) for drug offenders that used materials developed by, among others, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and recommended saunas and massages for offenders, claiming that the program had a 10% recidivism rate. Critics of the program claimed that the program didn’t track ex-offenders after they had completed the program. Nevadan politicians were invited to study the program, free of charge, by an Arizonan businessman with ties to the Church of Scientology.
This is what we knew about Sharron Angle after her nomination:
- She denied calling for the “transition” of Social Security to privately-held accounts, even though that goal was stated on her website (Set-up starts at 1:01; Angle’s conversation with a local reporter starts about minute 1:50);
- At a time when NV unemployment topped 14%, she suggested that Nevadians who took unemployment were “spoiled,” because “overly-high” benefits were more attractive to people trying to replace their lost salaries than taking “honest” work for less pay, even though in Nevada as in much of the country at the time, there WERE NO JOBS TO BE HAD.
- She ran ad after ad blaming Harry Reid for Nevada’s jobs problem – unemployment and foreclosures were then either the highest or among the highest in the nation — then stated that as a US Senator, her job was not to try to “bring jobs to Nevada.”
- Her campaign, realizing that their greatest threat was the candidate herself, tried to limit her exposure to non-partisan media, choosing instead to give interviews to Fox News and its outlets.
- Her campaign’s fear was well-founded. After running a series of increasingly shrill campaign ads about Harry Reid’s opposition to the draconian 2010 Arizona immigration law, Angle was confronted by a teen at an appearance before the Hispanic Student Union at Rancho High School in Las Vegas. Here’s one of Angle’s best-known and most often-criticized quotes:
- Additonally, she managed to piss off the Canadians by suggesting, incorrectly, that the 9/11 bombers came through our porous “northern borders,” which they did not; the Canadian Ambassador demanded a retraction (which as far as the Bitch can tell, he never received).
- Then there was the whole issue of “Shari’a law” taking over Dearborn, MI and Frankford, TX (audio here at minute 43:10, Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly’s furious response here) and by the way, Frankford, TX doesn’t exist any more. Absorbed by Dallas in 1975, all that remains of Frankford is a church and a cemetery (the Bitch apologizes; she doesn’t know what’s up with the audio);
- And oh yes, rape victims who conceive as a result of their rape should embrace their pregnancies as “part of God’s plan;” Angle had counseled some young girls, she said, who did reconsider their situations and found that they could make “what was a lemon situation into lemonade.”
- That BP clean-up money? It’s a slush fund. Oops! No, it isn’t.
- Those “Second Amendment remedies?” Just metaphorical hyperbole, says her campaign.
- And by the way, she didn’t say the things she clearly said.
Her positions are bad enough; but her self-judgment, like Sarah Palin’s, her “common sense,” her ability to think critically, appears to be completely absent. As one commenter says, “she doesn’t have positions, she has beliefs which act as filters for her positions.” And those beliefs don’t ever appear to be critically examined by Angle, she never subjects them to rigorous evaluation against reality, she just embraces them. This is the problem, and it’s Trump’s problem, it’s Palin’s problem, it’s Bachmann’s problem, it’s Paul Ryan’s problem (at least vis-a-vis his “budget”), it’s the GOP PROBLEM. Apparently critical thinking died with Bill Buckley.
This is the woman who wants to be the next U.S. Senator from Nevada. And she could win the nomination, given the right legal pathway. She has the grassroots support to win a jungle primary, where everyone runs, irrespective of party and the two highest vote-getters either move on to a run-off; or the single candidate that gets a simple majority gets the nod. Her core believers are that strong, and criticism of their darling only makes them double-down on her. But — supposedly — she doesn’t have the juice to win a nominating convention run by the Nevada GOP establishment.
Pray that’s true. Pray Governor Sandoval chooses the nominating convention.