John Brummett says he is sick of both Blanche Lincoln and Bill Halter.
This is a nothing less than a classic case study in the decline of modern political discourse. I can’t think of a single issue that has been properly represented by both candidates in a civil, relevant discussion. Issues have been misstated and exploited to try to drive bogus wedges.
This also is a case study of an incumbent’s desperation. Is being a U.S. senator really all that? It must be like crack cocaine, considering the sacrifices to decency that Lincoln is making to try to stay on it. As I say in a column tomorrow, and still believe, Lincoln is better, as a human being and as a hard-working, solution-seeking senator, than this campaign she’s running. She’d almost have to be.
While I can understand how one could be sick of the back-and-forth between Lincoln and Halter’s camps, Brummett glosses over the disparity in “guilt” (for lack of a better word) between the two parties so that he can reach his conclusion. (Spoiler alert: He’s considering voting for John Boozman.)
Oh, sure, he mentions Lincoln’s attacks, and says she’s the worse offender:
To be blunt: She is the guiltier party here. These mailers that come into my home from her campaign are practically pornographic in their vile absurdity, latching on to any little thing — even a simple acknowledging from Bill Halter that Social Security needs in the long run to take in more money and pay out less — to seek to nearly criminalize the guy. By the way: Lincoln said years ago that putting some portion of jacked-up Social Security money into the stock market, as proposed by Democratic president Bill Clinton for whom Halter was merely working, and over which she now applies scare tactics to Halter, was an idea worth considering.
And he contrasts that with Halter’s sins sin:
Halter’s main transgression has been trashing her for her responsible vote for the bailout and pretending he could have succeeded where no one else could in getting the urgent vote delayed for tough amendments. Yeah, sure. Bill Halter was going to stop that train.
But his initial premise — he’s sick of the bickering and attacks between the candidates — is abandoned when he gets to his conclusion about why he might vote for Boozman:
I would tell you how I’m newly thinking of voting in this race, but I don’t want to burden John Boozman. Honest to goodness: I know he’d vote against my wishes 9.7 times in 10. But he’s only guy in sight who’s stood up and told the brave truth, as with his vote on TARP. And he has the advantage right now of not making me sick.
I’m finding it harder and harder to reward Lincoln’s campaign with a vote. Her Senate service is worthy of the vote, however. I think a vote for Halter would be, in effect, a vote for Republicanization of the seat, since Halter’s associative liberalism kills him for November in a reddening state considering the current mood.
So maybe I should give a vote straight-away to the least-dangerous Republican, Boozman, to try to help him avert a runoff in which Gilbert Baker, now transformed into Jim Holt Lite, would threaten him.
You see what he did there? Of course you do. The idea that he might vote for Boozman has nothing to do with Halter’s negative campaigning or being sick of Halter’s side of the bickering. Rather, Brummett is finding it hard to reward Blanche Lincoln with a vote because of her sleazy campaign; he simply thinks that a vote for Halter would guarantee a Republican win (partly because, as he states earlier in the article, Lincoln has trashed Halter in a way that a Republican candidate could use to his own advantage).
I’ve got a sad bit of news for Brummett, however. The polls disagree with him.
If either of the two Democrats has a chance against Boozman (or another Republican), as we sit here today, it is Halter. Against any of the potential Republicans, ALL polls show Lincoln getting trounced.
Sure, a lot can change between May 18 and November. But to write on April 30, 2010, that you don’t want to vote for Halter because you think it makes a Republican win more likely? That’s ridiculous. Brummett knows it’s ridiculous, too. He just lets his anti-Halter bias trump pesky little things like data and logic.
Lincoln, by making the more offending spectacle of herself, has somehow managed to make a slightly sympathetic figure of one of the least sympathetic personalities in Arkansas politics.
Translation: “I normally don’t like Bill Halter, but Blanche Lincoln is acting so sleazy that I find myself siding with him. This bothers me. So, rather than vote for Halter, even though I admit that he would vote the same as Lincoln “90 percent of the time,” I’ll just vote for the Republican who I admit would vote against my wishes 97% of the time.”
That makes total sense! And, by “total sense,” I mean “absolutely no sense at all!”