Before we get to the truly gruesome events surrounding the entirely bizarre universe of Republican candidates in the midterm elections that are barely a month away—candidates, I might add, who are nowhere near as close to losing as common sense would suggest they should be—let’s start with one that’s just funny. A dentist named Scott Jensen is running for governor of Minnesota and recently focused on an issue of towering importance.
Scott Jensen, the Republican candidate and a former state lawmaker, made the comments while speaking to supporters, according to a video of the event posted on Facebook. “But what about education?” Jensen said. “What are we doing to our kids? Why are we telling elementary kids that they get to choose their gender this week? Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them, because they identify as a furry? We’ve lost our minds. We’ve lost our minds.”
OK, I’ll buy the last sentence, for sure. The evidence piles up higher every election cycle. In this case, of course, we know that Jensen is running on a crackpot rumor he picked up on the Intertoobz so we can feel free to point and mock. (In an especially macabre turn, some classrooms in this country do have buckets of litter—in the event of a school shooting and some kid needs to pee while they’re trying not to get murdered.)
Things get more grim when we move on to the high-profile grotesqueries surrounding senatorial candidates in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
The Daily Beast’s revelation that Herschel Walker allegedly paid for an abortion for (and sent a get-well card to) a woman who was not his wife has unmasked his retrograde position on reproductive freedom as no less shallow and hypocritical than it is incoherent. Walker has flatly denied the whole story and has threatened to sue The Daily Beast. From the Guardian:
Walker blasted out a top-line denial via Twitter, calling the story overall a flat-out lie, also calling it a “Democrat attack”, while the Beast insists its article is backed up to the hilt. Walker says he’ll sue the Beast today. He also appeared on Fox News to blame politics, saying: “Now everyone knows how important this seat is and they [Democrats] will do anything to win this seat. They wanted to make it about anything except inflation, crime and the border being wide open.”
That’s his story and he’s sticking to it, which is the game-plan pioneered by his mentor down in Florida. (Speaking of whom, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago recently announced his intention to sue the entire media universe.) The national GOP is standing by Walker, but the local Republicans’ enthusiasm seems to be waning. Walker’s son has belabored him on Twitter since the report first broke, and Walker has ducked out on the one debate with Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock to which he’d agreed.
(This, too, is business as usual these days for Republican candidates. In Kentucky on Monday night, Democratic candidate Charles Booker found himself debating alone as Sen. Rand Paul declined to participate. So instead of debating an empty suit, Booker ended up debating an empty chair.)
Meanwhile, the talk in Pennsylvania is all about slaughtered puppies. According to a report in Jezebel, Dr. Mehmet Oz—who’s running for the Senate as a Republican and whose campaign has been a vaudeville act since the day it was launched—was the head of a research program where puppies and other animals were disposed of in ghastly fashion. Eventually, the university paid a fine to the Department of Agriculture as part of a settlement for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
The case stems from a report on the program prompted by a whistleblower, Catherine Dell’Orto, who described the puppies brutal ends. (She does not suggest Oz administered anything to the animals himself, but rather, “When your name is on the experiment, and the way the experiment is designed inflicts such cruelty to these animals, by design, there’s a problem.”) From billypenn.com:
At Columbia, the experiments in question were meant to “model human cardiac failure,” per Dell’Orto. The dogs’ hearts were paced quickly for “six to eight weeks,” and then various treatments attempted to bring them back to proper heart function “There was no [humane] endpoint, major, multiple survival surgeries for these dogs. They suffered quite a bit prior to death, and a lot of them were just found dead in the cages,” Dell’Orto said. “He was the principal investigator on these experiments,” she said of Oz.
In the cases of Oz and Walker, it sure seems like the national party either did not adequately vet them or didn’t care enough to vet them at all. But the deeper point is that nobody in the upper levels of the party has enough clout to vet anyone. Nobody controls enough markers, nobody controls enough money. Add to that their terror of awakening the kraken that is the party’s base, and you’ve got a situation in which candidates like Jensen, Walker, and Oz cruise through the primaries as if they were the actual general elections. Momentum then becomes uncontrollable, and you have to ride the crazy to the end.
And sometimes, at the end, you win elections. Then the country wonders how.
Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976. He lives near Boston and has his three children.
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