I saw Emmer up close only once during his dare I say “clumsy”, (but nearly successful), run for Governor. It was at a Sixth District rabble-rouser at some sports bar up in Big Lake in late 2009. The assembled faithful had mainly come to see Michele Bachmann, so Emmer and fellow candidate Marty Seifert (and ex-House Speaker Kurt Zellers) were merely the warm-up acts.
This was the event where Zellers warned the choir that if Obama had his Kenyan/muslim/European/Socialist way with high-speed trains they (the audience of farmers, small town businessmen and spooky apocalyptics mumbling about “righteous reckonings”) would be “astonished” by the flood of welfare cases pouring into Minnesota from Chicago. To diagram the inference (which was lost on no one): Spendthrift black guy in White House provides express train service for a lot of high-crime, low-cash types who don’t look much like anyone in the Sixth District to ride up and squat in Minnesota.
And that was one of the classier moments of the evening. (I was eventually kicked out by the sports bar owner, despite having paid the $10 to get in.)
What Emmer guarantees is another competition to see who can out-crazy the other for the hearts and alleged minds of the Sixth District’s rabid, caucus-going base. To be sure, if you’re him, it’s worth saying whatever it takes. Because the winner, almost certainly a Republican, unless Bud Grant or Ron Schara (or Raven the dog) decides to play Democrat and run for office, is guaranteed a sweet and easy ten-year run, at minimum. Do the math: $140, 000 a year plus federal pension. For Emmer it sure beats a Clear Channel talk radio contract. (Believe me, I know).
So … prepare yourself for a fresh outbreak of grim, hellfire warnings of “socialist havoc”, “government controlled health care”, “godless liberalism” and “reckless government spending”.
That last one is always fraught with irony, since Emmer is another one of these local Republicans who seems to have a very hard time conserving their own money. (How do you borrow $1.6 million against a house you bought for $425,000? Only a fiscally responsible quasi-Libertarian knows for sure. )
But as I say, Emmer’s return comes at the end of a tough news week for the Grand Old Party, which I would have thought would be all about cleaning up its act from the mess it made last fall.
In order of embarrassments we had: The Lou Dobbs/FoxNews sausage fest conversation about that study showing 40% of women are the breadwinner in American households with children. Lou and the boys couldn’t paint a darker picture of cultural collapse. Clearly, gals out there picking up a bigger paycheck than their boy toy (if they have one) is a descending peril along the lines of a sun-blotting swarm of pecker-picking turkey vultures. The classic among them was blogger Erick Erickson — a bona fide voice of influence to the literate among the Sixth District base.
Said Erickson, who is also a talk radio host: “I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.”
This set off an internal kerfuffle lead by FoxNews’ main female personalities Megyn Kelly and Greta van Susteren, both of whom were, like Captain Renault, “shocked, shocked” that 1950s-style troglodyte sexism was alive and walking the corridors of Roger Ailes’ and Rupert Murdoch’s FoxNews. (All you could do was roll your eyes at their “indignation”, which really was poorly disguised embarrassment at “the boys” being so crass and obvious about their innate sexism, thereby forcing the women to say something.)
Finally, (and by that I mean before Emmer), we had the really kind of astonishing report from … the frickin’ … College Republican National Committee … describing the party as it is today — led by talk radio jocks, FoxNews pundits, self-aggrandizing mega-church pastors and palpably sociopathic bloggers — as, “closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.” (At least that’s how young “winnable” voters described the party.)
Rolling Stone summarized nine other points in the report. Including these tough-to-dispute gems:
3. “For the GOP, being thought of as closed-minded is hardly a good thing. But if the GOP is thought of as the ‘stupid party,’ it may as well be the kiss of death.”
5. “An outright majority of young people still think those Republican policies are to blame [for the Great Recession] – hardly an encouraging finding.”