The more commentary I read on how our new Dem senators and congresspeople are conservative, but no they’re not, they’re actually liberal, the more I think the actual difference between this year’s crop of candidates and every other one in recent memory is getting lost in the shuffle.
WE HAD SOME BALLS ON US THIS YEAR.
And that was the difference.
Our men and women had stones the size of George W. Bush’s head, and they didn’t let anybody fuck with them, and the red-state Republican voters dig that. I can’t tell you how many ordinarily sensible people I know told me they voted for Bush because “he says what he thinks” and “I know what he stands for.” And let’s ignore the inherent bullshit of either of those for a moment and focus on why that impression got created.
Balls. Great big swingin’ balls made of solid brass.
The candidate that attacks his opponent, the candidate that doesn’t stand for lies, the candidate that appears to get good and pissed off when the situation warrants being pissed, the candidate that fights and fights hard and doesn’t whine or beg or defend or retreat ever, that candidate is the one who has appeal out in Real America where men are men and sheep are nervous. That’s the candidate Tweety Matthews goes all gushy for, the one he can imagine pushing him up against the wall and taking him like he’s always wanted to be taken.
I can’t tell you how many ordinarily sensible people said they voted for Bush but would have loved to vote for Howard Dean or Wesley Clark, because those guys had pairs like basketballs. John Tester? Would you fuck with that guy? He’d pick you up with one hand, toss you in a thresher, tie you up in baling twine and go back to his pig roast. Jim Webb is a one-man armada. Claire McCaskill went after her opponent hard and made no apologies when he whined and cried that her ads were mean. Patrick Murphy in PA started his campaign at EschaCon basically saying, “Bring it, bitches.”
It wasn’t a question of agenda, it was a question of passion and disposition. Take any six candidates who had the exact same positions as those I’ve just named and if those candidates had namby-pamby’ed around talking about how they’re just like Bush but not really, and ooh, Mr. Rove, don’t hit me so hard with your riding crop, thank you sir may I have another, we’d be on the other end of what a figure no less than our president called an electoral “thumpin’.”
(And no, I can’t explain Tammy Duckworth with this theory, so I’m classifying her as the exception that proves the rule, and Roskam should rot in hell for what he did to her, and decent people should spit on him in the street.)
Because when you get right down to it, and it sounds like such a fucking clich, people want someone to fight for them. That means fighting in the campaign, too, because people look at you then, evaluate, and to be a mealy-mouthed nitwit in the campaign is like showing up for a Wall Street job interview in a Grateful Dead T-shirt and a Fuck You hat, I don’t care how good your resum is, you ain’t getting hired. People want someone to fight for them and they gravitate toward people they see make those fights last fifteen rounds.
So I don’t think for one minute Tester won because he was a conservative, or that Webb tapped into whatever ignorant-ass constituency is normally Allen’s base because he ran to the right. McCaskill in Missouri could have run from the stem cell research fight instead of running right into it with guns blazing. You could argue Casey with the pro-life thing but come on, it’s PA and Santorum was a train wreck anyway. I think they won because they demonstrated they wouldn’t back down in the face of mendacity, they wouldn’t be cowed by the slime machine and they wouldn’t bow to anyone, Republican or not.
And I don’t know about you, but to me? That shows some mighty big balls.