2018 Midterms: A Tale of Self-Owning
As God as my witness, I fully intended the primary focus of this column to be on all of the unforced errors Democrats have made in recent weeks to squander their once ginormous midterm election advantage over the Republicans.
I planned to spend several paragraphs pointing to the public backlash prominent Democratic politicians have created with their disgusting conduct throughout the Kavanaugh confirmation process, as well as the vitriolic campaign rhetoric put forth by people like Hillary Clinton and Eric "Kick 'em" Holder.
Heck, I was even going to echo some of the fun my fellow righties have been having at the expense of Senator Elizabeth Warren, over her colossal misstep of publishing the results of a DNA test revealing that pretty much anyone reading this column is more likely to have Native American blood in them than she is.
Actually, I'm still going to have some fun with it...
I mean, think about this for a minute. Warren, who has clearly been eying a presidential run for 2020, voluntarily subjected herself to a DNA test to prove — once and for all — that she is indeed of the Native American heritage that she has longed claimed (in the face of conservative skepticism and heckling) to be. And then she pridefully broadcasted the results on social media, apparently not realizing that they actually suggested that the opposite was likely true.
Make no mistake about it. This was a political catastrophe. President Obama's 2012 campaign manager even seems to agree:
Warren's claim of Cherokee ancestry wasn't just some trivial tidbit she threw around at parties. She advanced her career off the premise.
As National Review's Jim Geraghty pointed out, Harvard Law School touted Warren as their first "woman of color" law professor.
"Warren self-identified as a ‘Native American’ in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of law professors in every edition printed between 1986 -1995," noted the Daily Caller's Benny Johnson.
Additionally, Warren identified herself as a Native American to both the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard for purposes of federal reporting. And don't even get me started on the romantic family story she's been telling for years about her parents having to elope because of her mother's Cherokee heritage.
Anyway, back the broader topic: In today's political landscape, self-owning is clearly a bipartisan activity.
The GOP has been seeing a notable rebound in the polls over the past few weeks. House races are tightening, the enthusiasm gap between parties has narrowed, and fewer Republican seats look to be in jeopardy. Keeping the Senate majority now looks to be a safe bet, and with the economy and job situations continuing to show strength, the Republicans appear to be in a good position to minimize their losses.
So, on cue, President Trump took to Twitter this morning to refer to a woman as "Horseface":
“Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees.” @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
Aside from the irony that Trump trashed the appearance of a woman he cheated on his former-model wife with, this is the last thing Republican politicians (especially those up for election in a few short weeks) wanted to be asked about by the media. But now they will be, and I don't think it's ridiculous to suggest that this was counter-productive (at a sensitive time) to a party that's been having serious trouble attracting women voters.
Twitter had some good takes:
Staffer: Good news Mr. President! Your poll numbers are rebounding and helping GOP candidates in key races is working.
Trump: What happened? Staffer: Um, you do better when you don't tweet crazy shit and people see you as normal. Trump: This is as disaster! <reaches for phone> — Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) October 16, 2018
Now, do I think that this single tweet will be a political game-changer come next month? Probably not. After all, we're at a point in our politics where a President of the United States can publicly trash the appearance of his former porn-star mistress, and have it easily be forgotten within a couple of days.
Then again, when you're in the final lap of a race, and the runner you're rooting for is building momentum toward the finish line, I'd love to hear the political logic behind dropping a banana peel onto the track. Yet, that's what Trump does to his own party — nearly every time. And it's always up to the rest of his team to navigate around the unnecessary pitfalls.
Fortunately for Trump (and the Republicans), the Democrats have adopted the same strategy, and thus the same pitfalls.