Archive for the ‘Josh Hawley’ Category

Danforth’s folly

Former U. S. Senator Jack Danforth recently suggested that a well-funded center-right independent could win the 2022 U.S. Senate contest in Missouri. The announcemnt came in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a left-wing fake-news outlet that is a defacto Democrat PR group. Danforth assured that he and other people he knew would see to it that the campaign would be very well funded.

Danforth’s whole argument relies on one unsound, unreliable poll that puts an unnamed center-right independent not ahead, but “within the margin of error,” against Republican Eric Greitens and Democrat Lucas Kunce. The poll was designed to maximize support for an independent by pitting him/her against the Republican candidate with the highest negatives and a Democrat who is unknown to most voters. I bet the independent would have fared much worse against Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler (or even Attorney General Eric Schmitt) and former Democrat State Senator Scott Sifton.

Generic polls like that have been poor predictors in the past. In 2000, polls this far ahead of the election showed wide support for an independent or third party alternative for president. Five such alternatives would appear on the Missouri ballot that year, including well known public figures Pat Buchanan (carrying the Reform Party banner of Ross Perot) and Green Party nominee Ralph Nader. Come Election Day, only 2.5% of Missouri voters (combined!) cast ballots for any of the alternatives. Instead 97.5% of voters flocked to the familiar, comfortable camps of the established parties. The alternative candidates for down ballot statewide offices fared even worse, even in the contest for U. S. Senator, where the ultimately successful Democratic candidate was dead!

Almost immediately, former Florissant mayor Thomas Schneider announced his candidacy for the independent slot. But he doesn’t fit the center-right Republican mold that Danforth has in mind. Schneider’s two election wins in Florissant were in nonpartisan elections. I doubt he would have won in staunchly Democratic Florissant by posturing as a center-right Republican.

Further, it appears that Danforth’s primary quest is to defeat the Republican nominee, even by a Democrat. A successful independent candidate would need to attract votes of both Democrats and Republicans. But by characterizing the candidate as a center-right Republican and asserting that the candidate would caucus with senate Republicans if successful, Danforth repels potential support from disgruntled Democrats. Schneider, who boasts support for organized labor, could attract some Democrats, but Danforth is unlikely to support or fund Schneider’s petition drive to get on the ballot. Danforth will finance ballot access for someone who fits his criterion.

The most successful independent statewide candidacy in the past was billionaire Ross Perot, whose self-financed populist bid for president in 1992 garnered 21.7% of the Missouri vote. It allowed Democrat Bill Clinton to win the presidency and Missouri’s electoral votes by pluralities. In the eleven presidential elections starting in 1980, Clinton’s two wins against a Republican and Perot were the only times a Democrat presidential candidate carried Missouri. This year’s independent-tarnished senate contest would almost certainly have the same result.

I write these remarks with great sadness. Danforth almost single-handedly made the Missouri Republican Party competitive in 1968, when he, then a 32-year-old lawyer, unseated Democrat Attorney General Norman Anderson. Missouri Republicans had not won a statewide race in 22 years (40 years for down ballot races). In office, he named an unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate even younger than himself, Christopher “Kit” Bond, to be his chief assistant. Boosted by this new gravitas, Bond then went on to unseat entrenched Democrat State Auditor Haskell Holman in the next election. From then on, Republicans needed to be reckoned with in Missouri. In the senate in 1991, Danforth was stellar in his sponsorship and defense of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. Conservatives owe Danforth a lot.

What has gotten into Danforth? The one-time 32-year-old wunderkind is now 85. That’s six years older than cognitively impaired President Joe Biden. He’s losing it. He recently called his 2018 support for now Senator Josh Hawley the “worst mistake” of his life, apparently forgetting his embarrasing and crucial 1978 senate vote to ratify President Carter’s giving away the Panama Canal. It’s actually not unusual for well-known party icons to make weird statements in support of the opposing party as they get really old. Conservative icon Barry Goldwater did so as he advanced in years. So did liberal icon George McGovern.

We would best preserve Danforth’s positive legacy by ignoring his lapses later in life.

McCaskill wrong on sex trafficking

Unablogger cartoon portrait

The Unablogger

U. S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tried to score political points against her likely Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, by claiming that his remarks about the sexual revolution’s impact on the sex trafficking crisis was somehow anti-woman. The opposite is true.

What Hawley said was that in the 1960s and ’70s (a period of loosened sexual mores that has come to be known as the sexual revolution), it became socially acceptable for Hollywood and the media to treat women as objects for male gratification, and that such demeaning view of women helped fuel current harassment, inequality, and sex trafficking. He criticized the cultural elites for, in Hawley’s words, “denigrat[ing] the biblical truth about husband and wife.” His audience was a gathering of clergy at an event hosted by the Missouri Renewal Project.

McCaskill distorted Hawley’s remarks into an attack on birth control, which Hawley never mentioned and, in fact, supports. She went on to claim that the sexual revolution had created more freedom for women by expanding their access to birth control. As a Boomer who experienced the sexual revolution in real time, Claire should know better. The sexual revolution didn’t cause advances in birth control; it was the other way around. Advances in birth control caused (or at least fueled) the sexual revolution. And this was not empowering to women, because it shifted the perceived responsibility for birth control from men wearing condoms to women taking pills, at least in the minds of many men initiating sexual contact. Eventually, as portrayed in HBO’s Sex in the City, women now routinely protect themselves by carrying condoms for men in their purses.

Note that Hawley cited the sexual revolution as an influence, not the proximate cause, of the current crisis in sex trafficking. He was in fact siding with women against sexual predators. He lamented today’s exploitation of women, which he said was “on a scale that we would never have imagined.”

Beyond rhetoric, Hawley’s record speaks for itself. Shortly after being sworn in as Missouri Attorney General, he created an anti-sex-trafficking unit in his office and sued Backpage.com for allegedly promoting the practice.

McCaskill, though, has justifiable confidence that mainstream media outlets will spin the situation to fit McCaskill’s narrative. Indeed, right on cue, both of the state’s liberal urban dailies, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Kansas City Star, headlined that Hawley “blame[d]” sex trafficking on the sexual revolution.

Hostility to women not responsible for Wagner’s withdrawal

The Unablogger

Consistent with the mainsteam media’s continuing campaign to paint the Republican Party as inhospitable to women, Roll Call published a Nathan Gonzales column blaming perceived GOP hostility to women for the withdrawal of Congresswoman Ann Wagner from consideration for the GOP nomination to oppose Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s reelection next year. Gonzales is wrong.

Wagner was justifiably concerned about two sources of opposition to her candidacy within her party. The first and best known, and touched on by Gonzales, is the effort by establishment party elders like former Sen. Jack Danforth (generally regarded as the father of the 1970s Republican revival in Missouri) to get newly elected Attorney General Josh Hawley into the race instead of Wagner. Sam Fox, a major Missouri Republican donor and Danforth ally, had publicly urged Republican donors to hold off donating to any senate contenders until Hawley decided whether to enter the contest. That put a slight crimp in Wagner’s impressive early fundraising. Danforth and Fox’s motives were not sexist; they were based on concerns that Wagner might not be a strong enough candidate to beat McCaskill, or at least not as strong as Hawley would be. Hawley led the Republican ticket last year with 58.5% of the vote in the first statewide Republican sweep in Missouri in nearly a century. It is important for Republicans, both in Missouri and nationally, to take down McCaskill in 2018, important enough to go with their best shot, not just good enough to get it done with no margin of error. That’s how the establishment thinks, and in this case it makes sense.

The second and less publicized source of concern was vocal opposition to Wagner from the Tea Party faction. While Wagner scores relatively well on national measures of conservatism (88% American Conservative Union rating for 2016, but only 63% on the Heritage Action scorecard), the Tea Party is angered by her actions and votes designed to benefit Big Business donors at the expense of fiscal responsibility, a core Tea Party value. Wagner’s vote to save the Export-Import Bank is an example. The Tea Party regards Wagner and Sen. Roy Blunt as part of the pay-to-play swamp that President Trump wants to drain.

Another possible GOP senate contender, especially if dream candidate Hawley opts out, is Rep. Vicky Hartzler from western Missouri. I have heard no Tea Party complaints about Hartzler, who sports an excellent 2016 ACA rating of 96, although she scores only slightly better than Wagner on the Heritage Action scorecard with 69%. If any sexism exists towards Missouri Republican women, it rests with Gonzales, who indirectly dismissed Hartzler by calling Wagner “the GOP’s . . . only top-tier female hopeful,” even though Hartzler has won more elections and served longer in Congress than Wagner. Hartzler won her seat in the Tea Party revolt of 2010, prevailing over a tough primary field before unseating venerable 34-year incumbent Rep. Ike Skelton. At the time, Skelton was chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

Like the establishment elders, the Tea Party opposition to Wagner has nothing to do with gender; unlike the establishment elders, it has everything to do with policy concerns. While the establishment is quite comfortable with Wagner’s policies, the Tea Party is not.