Discover more from Bernard Goldberg's Commentary
Oops on That Whole “Stolen Election” Thing
GOP U.S. Senate nominee Don Bolduc presents a flip-flop for the ages.
Last month, I wrote about what I called an “unholy alliance” between MAGA Republicans and Democratic groups like the DCCC to produce some pretty terrible GOP midterm nominees. These groups may not see eye-to-eye politically or ideologically, but their efforts are nonetheless quite compatible.
The principles and policy positions that used to unite a lot of Republicans don’t really exist (or at least matter) anymore — not in any meaningful way. Instead, much of today’s base rallies around a single issue: loyalty to Donald Trump and compliance with his “stolen election” lies.
In fact, with a relative handful of exceptions, this is now a requirement for political advancement in today’s GOP. What’s not widely considered among a lot of Republican primary voters, however, is just how far a candidate can realistically advance with such a platform.
The DCCC, on the other hand, sees a bigger picture. That’s why the group has spent millions of dollars promoting a number of these otherwise cash-strapped stop-the-steal MAGA candidates. Their belief is that if such individuals win their Republican primaries (and a number of them have), they’ll be much easier for Democratic candidates to defeat in November’s general election.
Their reasoning is simple: general-election voters by and large reject the “stolen election” lunacy, and will likely do so with their votes… even in an election year when the opposition-party in power is presiding over high inflation and numerous policy failures.
Is the strategy risky? Absolutely, especially if Democrats believe, as they say, that election-denying candidates pose a unique and serious threat to U.S. democracy. Either way, it’s a risk they’ve chosen to take.
This begs a question: can a “stop the steal” Republican, outside of a deep-red constituency, ingratiate oneself enough to general-election voters to actually win in November? While there’s a longstanding political strategy of candidates moderating their campaigns and platforms after securing their party’s nomination, election-denial would seem to be a tough position to come back from.
But this week, one hardcore MAGA Republican — a U.S. Senate candidate no less — demonstrated that he’s going to give it his best shot.
A month ago at a GOP primary debate in New Hampshire, Retired U.S. Army Gen. Don Bolduc — a longtime election-denier (and recipient of lots of financial help from Chuck Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC) — doubled down on his MAGA bonafides.
“I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election and damn it I stand by [it],” he righteously said to cheers from the debate audience.
Last Thursday, however, a mere two days after he narrowly won the Republican nomination, Bolduc went on Fox News to declare that he was waaaay wrong about that whole “stolen election” thing.
“We live and learn, right?” he told host Dana Perino. “And I’ve done a lot of research on this and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party and I have come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: The election was not stolen.” He added, “Unfortunately, President Biden is the legitimate president of this country…”
Live and learn, right? No harm, no foul?
One has to wonder how Bolduc’s primary opponent, Chuck Morse, felt about that complete and total reversal…. especially considering that Morse’s acknowledgment of Biden’s legitimacy (aka the truth) may well be what cost him the nomination.
Sadly, this debacle is just another example of how utterly embarrassing our politics have become.
There obviously wasn’t any breaking news over the last 30 days that added new clarity to the outcome of the 2020 election. Anyone who cares about the truth, and has paid attention to the facts, has understood for almost two years that Biden won. Yet, Bolduc claims to now be enlightened, having “done a lot of research” and talked to constituents for a couple of weeks, and ultimately ended up with the same election views as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
Do you buy that intellectual journey? Does anyone buy that intellectual journey?
It would be great to be able to give someone who served our military as admirably as Bolduc did the benefit of the doubt, but this is so off-the-wall ridiculous that it’s just about impossible to.
Even if one were to take Bolduc at his word, his explanation in itself would seem disqualifying. He’s effectively arguing that for almost two years, he falsely declared (in no uncertain terms) that a U.S. election had been stolen, and that our nation’s very democracy had been overturned. And he’d held and touted that position (again, this is according to Bolduc) because he hadn’t bothered to research during that time what actually happened.
If that were true, how could such horrific judgement be trusted for such an important office as the U.S. Senate?
And speaking of poor judgement…
Wow. But let’s stay on the election stuff…
I do actually believe Bolduc when he says that recently talking to people helped change his tune. Only, I don’t think those people were New Hampshire constituents. I think they were political advisors who remember that Donald Trump lost by seven points in Bolduc’s state two years ago — political advisors who understand what Mitch McConnell did several months ago, when the Senate Minority Leader emphasized the importance of strong general-election candidates.
Unconditional loyalty and devotion to a politician who handed his party its worst political losses in 70 years may work for an easy general-election win in a place like Wyoming (that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Washington since the 1970s), but swing states like New Hampshire are a different story.
Too few in the party listened to people like McConnell back then, and now the GOP is scrambling, in what was once thought to be a red-tsunami year, to try and compete in races previously thought quite winnable for Republicans.
That’s clearly what’s behind Bolduc’s shameless about-face. Desperation is a hell of a motivator.
At this point, I’m not sure it even matters what the man really thinks about the 2020 election. It could well be that, like nearly every GOP leader (and right-wing pundit) who’s paid lip service to the “stolen election” stuff, he never believed it in the first place. What does matter is that Bolduc has proven himself a say-anything political fraud and political coward… which sadly means he fits right in with today’s politics.