Most politicians will do anything to win, but how many will put their own head in a g-ddamned noose to improve their chances?
I’d cringe at this ad if I were a national Democratic strategist, not because the imagery is provocative but because it’s the sort of viral clickbait that’s destined to grab the attention of Democratic small donors online. Those donors already had a strong incentive to donate to Charles Booker — they loathe his opponent, Rand Paul, and most small donations in American politics are expressions of hatred towards an incumbent — but this spot is destined to capture their fancy and open up the money spigot. Presumably that’s why Booker cut it in the first place.
But every dollar small donors spend on him is a dollar not being spent on Democratic candidates who really do have a chance to win, like John Fetterman or Stacey Abrams. Booker’s going to get smoked in Kentucky, just like Amy McGrath got smoked by Mitch McConnell in the state’s last Senate race. But liberals can’t stop chasing their goofy dream of trying to oust their least favorite Republicans by pouring an avalanche of cash on the Democrats running against them irrespective of whether those Democrats have a realistic chance of winning. Old hands like James Carville have begged them to knock it off, but I doubt this is the year they finally learn their lesson.
And so, really, this ad is a gift to the GOP. The more money Booker makes from the Democratic donor base, the better off Republicans will be in tight races nationally.
Lynching is a tool of terror. It was used to kill hopes for freedom. In Kentucky, it was used to kill three of my uncles.
In this historic election, the choice is clear. Rand Paul may want to divide us, but hate won’t win this time.
It’s time to move forward, together. pic.twitter.com/oYxuqKFdWR
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) June 1, 2022
From Booker’s perspective, facing a two-term incumbent in a very red state, I suppose any attention from voters is good attention. The first and most difficult problem for a challenger to solve is making sure the public knows his name. This ad should help with that, at least. And as I say, the money will come pouring in.
Just tell me which Kentucky voter who wasn’t already inclined to vote for him will be won over by this clip.
The ad’s not fair to Paul, by the way. It’s true that he held up federal anti-lynching legislation initially but he worked with Cory Booker to revise it and eventually co-sponsored the bill, which was signed into law by Biden this year. Paul’s objection to the original version was the fact that it included too many lesser offenses under the rubric of “lynching.” The revised version that he supported makes it a federal hate crime punishable by up to 30 years if one’s actions “result in the death or serious bodily harm of another person or result in the attempted or actual kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse or killing of another person because of that individual’s race or another protected characteristic.”
Kidnapping and hanging someone because they’re black would obviously qualify under Paul’s bill, contrary to what Booker’s ad implies. But what else is he supposed to say to Kentucky voters to try to convince them to replace the incumbent with a Democrat? He’s a desperate man running in one of the worst electoral climates for his party in the last century.
While we’re on the subject of Democratic candidates damaging their party’s national chances, here’s a tidbit from Charlie Sykes’s newsletter this morning that brought me up short. Sykes recently interviewed WaPo reporter James Hohmann about the left’s insane push for student loan forgiveness, a policy seemingly built in a lab to further alienate blue-collar voters from the left. Why are they doing this? Sykes asked. Hohmann’s reply: Stacey Abrams.
James Hohmann: I’ve asked, I’ve repeatedly asked people. And I’ve asked a lot of people in the White House this question, and essentially the answer is that this is the fault of Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock.
Charlie Sykes: What?
James Hohmann: Stacey Abrams has been browbeating the White House on this, and says that this is the only way she could win — that this is going to be a base turnout election. This isn’t about persuading people in the middle, it’s about getting the base to turn out. And the base isn’t going to turn out if they don’t do this, and that they have all sorts of stats about how a lot of graduates from HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] have all this debt. And so there are a lot of people very close to the president who privately understand that this is a complete disaster for them. But the president is being pulled really hard by these woke leftists who … believe it’s all about the base. They just don’t get it because they haven’t spent time in the WOW counties or in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Abrams has a much better chance of winning her race than Booker, whose chances are a hair north of zero. But even her chances aren’t great against a popular incumbent like Brian Kemp in a national environment like this one. Twenty percent, maybe? Thirty, if we’re being charitable? Pleading with Biden to order a grossly immoral redistribution of wealth from the working class to the educated class because it might goose her turnout by a few points among young voters is the same destructive illogic as pandering for small-donor contributions in an unwinnable race, but an order of magnitude more significant. Both are cases of prioritizing one’s own individual election over the party’s national interests, but if Abrams were to get her way, Democrats would suffer for it for years to come. And she’d likely still end up losing to Kemp.