“I was a kid in South Carolina. Montagues were like gators – worth a lot on the hoof, always around, and sometimes real nasty.” Said by Owen Walker in Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell
While boning up on Thad Cochran’s Todd Akin Moment and how the Haley Barbour machine is backing him come hell, high water or hurricane, that quote regarding entrenched gentry with too much power kept coming to mind.
That’s pretty much what Haley Barbour and his lobbying SuperPAC nephews along with Thad Cochran and all the other “Establishment Republicans” are: gentry to the TEA Party’s peasant. Haley Barbour is worth millions, so are a number of others in more than cash, the Capitol is loaded with them and Mitch McConnell, among others, has a mean streak.
The difference is, Establishment Republicans are not an endangered species.
For the millions out there who “don’t really care, the whole lot of them need go,” a little patience is in order. At the national level, it is not going to happen overnight, and the best bet is to pick them off one at a time as the more vulnerable of the clutch come up for re-election. That is where blessing and releasing Thad Cochran is strategically the best place to start when it comes to replacing the entrenched pork men.
Thad Cochran made a tactical error this week when he said:
“I said I didn’t know much about the Tea Party, and I didn’t,” Cochran said on WXXV television in Mississippi on Wednesday evening. “I heard…I read newspaper articles about them, and that’s about all I knew. It’s kind of like Will Rogers, you know. He said he knew what was in the papers.”
In four sentences Cochran confessed to the charge of being “too old and out of touch” without realizing it. Senators can be forgiven for not knowing the nitty gritty details of workings other senators’ committees, but to not really understand broader movements and current events? That’s part of their job, and not one that any of them should be relying on their staffs to do for them.
And to be dismissive of a core constituency is lethal. Cochran and his backers are about to find that out.
In his mid-70s, Cochran is not going to be easy to convince that it is time to enjoy his grandchildren. Anyone who has been around older people knows how difficult it is to convince them it’s time to give it up and retire, go to the hospital, move into assisted living, sign over power of attorney, hand over the car keys – it’s part of being older even if it means surrendering to the inevitable. But, as the younger generation, it is part of OUR job to not only make sure the unpleasant tasks are done, but have some continuity to it all.
That’s sort of where we are. The old guard needs to be cycled out and they aren’t taking it very well.
To make matters worse in this case in particular, Cochran is backed by Haley Barbour, the quintessential Washington lobbyist who made a name for himself shilling for tobacco companies. His client list is now far more diversified, but for elections, the trusted underlings are nephews who have their own successful lobbying businesses and are part of the Establishment SuperPACs.
Thus succession should be assured. In family businesses that’s the way it’s done. Just so happens that Barbour’s business is lobbying and maintaining political power.
This is where the idea to take some time and wait for the established genteel sorts to make the mistakes comes in. This is not going to be easy and the truth of the matter is that TEA wants to get the show on the road. That’s understandable, but so long as the entrenched powers have a lot of cash backing them, tossing the bums out is not doable unless they make a mistake.
Thad Cochran made his. As we say in non-profit, it is time to bless and release him. The man has “served” for decades. The people of Mississippi should thank him and send him on his way. The rest of the establishment will have a turn, but concentrate on the vulnerable first.
There is, however, an Achilles heel in the system, and after the Todd Akin experience in Missouri, CL is acutely aware of it. Mississippi has open primaries, just like Missouri does. That means ANYONE can walk into a primary and take a Republican ballot, not just card carrying Republicans. In Missouri, this is how we ended up with Todd Akin as the Republican candidate. Democratic operatives voted for him and he won the nomination over a better candidate that was younger and more along the TEA mold. This is a distinct danger in Mississippi – and it is up to the people of Mississippi to change it.