In politics as in romance, desperation does not serve well as an aphrodisiac, but it does have its humorous moments. Over the past week, some on the Left have held out hope that a rather obscure state race in California would allow them to have a talking point about the lunacy of Republicans nationwide. Orly Taitz, the lawyer who has filed so many Birther lawsuits that courts have begun sanctioning her for it, ran for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State in California. My friend Dave Weigel, whose Right Now column for the Washington Post serves as a sort of anthropological exploration of the conservative movement, offered a half-dozen posts on Taitz in the last two weeks, with analysis like this:
I threw it a quick link yesterday, but Kasie Hunt’s story on Orly Taitz‘s chances at the GOP nomination for California secretary of state is worth a close read. For months, Taitz‘s campaign was covered as a silly little novelty, especially when she tried to get her opponent, Damon Dunn, kicked off the ballot. (She argued that he had not joined the GOP soon enough to qualify as a candidate.)…
Republican voters, brought out in sizable numbers by the contested primaries for governor and U.S. senator, fill out the rest of their ballot with progressively less information about their candidates. They know Taitz‘s name from… somewhere. And she’s listed first on the ballot, thanks to the state’s randomized ranking system. (Some of these voters, of course, will know and avidly support her.) She’s identified on the ballot as an attorney, while Dunn is a real estate agent. They check off her name, and she wins.
Dunn can pull this off, despite running a fairly low-key campaign. For all we know, he could win by 30 points — nobody polls these races. But it’s not unheard of for a low-visibility office like this to go to the candidate with a little name recognition and the first place on the ballot. Cue: Potential PR disaster and a talking point Democrats could use until the end of time.
Joe Garofoli at SF Gate noticed that the Taitz campaign received big coverage from … MSNBC:
The folks at MSNBC needs to get out of the house a bit more. Or at least get to California. The race they’re flogging the hardest tonight: Secretary of State, where, as native Californian Rachel Maddow (who should know better) said “the winner might actually be Orly Taitz…. the queen of the birthers.” Keith Olbermann name-dropped Taitz repeatedly in the hours before. …
But does MSNBC have to fear-monger Taitz as the Secretary of State nominee just to get people to stay tuned? Her challenger Damon Dunn scored EVERY MAJOR ENDORSEMENT in the state. The party leaders LOVE him….even though he didn’t vote for the first time until the Obama presidency.
The title of that post? Yo, MSNBC: Enough with the Orly Taitz obsession!
No one I’ve read took Taitz’ campaign seriously — not this campaign, nor her Birther campaign, either. And for good reason; except for the fact that she was first on the ballot, Taitz had little else going for her. In an age of the Internet, it doesn’t take long for anyone to figure out why someone’s name sounds familiar, and to react accordingly. Heck, thanks to cell phones with Internet access, that can even take place in a voting booth.
In any case, how did Taitz do? She didn’t lose by 30 points. She lost by 48 points to Damon Dunn, who got 74% of the vote without having to do much campaigning at all. Dunn got over a million votes in a race little noticed by anyone outside of California — and those desperate for a Republicans-are-lunatics talking point, like Maddow and Olbermann, who wasted hours of national broadcast time on it.
Now that Republicans have solidly repudiated Taitz, will the same people who wanted to use her as a talking point acknowledge that Republicans are sane, and that opposition to the disastrous policies of Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress is rational and legitimate? Don’t hold your breath waiting for hours of that analysis from MSNBC.