Politics
Mississippi Senator Chris McDaniel speaks during a town hall meeting in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, March 18, 2014. The stars appear to have aligned for Chris McDaniel, a state senator who is waging a primary battle against Thad Cochran, who is seeking his seventh six-year term in the Senate. Polls show a close race two months before the June 3 Republican primary, and an army of Tea Party activists are canvassing Mississippi voters for McDaniel. Picture taken March 18, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3JJRH Mississippi Senator Chris McDaniel speaks during a town hall meeting in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, March 18, 2014. The stars appear to have aligned for Chris McDaniel, a state senator who is waging a primary battle against Thad Cochran, who is seeking his seventh six-year term in the Senate. Polls show a close race two months before the June 3 Republican primary, and an army of Tea Party activists are canvassing Mississippi voters for McDaniel. Picture taken March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3JJRH  

WaPost: Chris McDaniel Looks ‘Like He’s In A Fraternity’

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

Robert Costa, the former National Review scribe turned Washington Post reporter, doesn’t pull any punches with his latest profile of Chris McDaniel, going so far as to note that the conservative Senate candidate ”looks a bit like he’s in a fraternity.”

If you were wondering how to set the tone for a piece about a stereotypical southern politician, this lede could be taught in journalism school: “Amid the Confederate flags, the guns and the pigs — in pens and on plates — Chris McDaniel worked the Tate County Fair in search of votes…”

It reads almost as if someone sent Margaret Mead down to study the good folks of Mississippi.

In fairness, McDaniel’s past comments do invite scrutiny. And Costa doesn’t miss the chance to remind us that in his past role as a radio host, McDaniel “referred to Hispanic women as ‘mamacitas,’ proclaimed that he would never again pay taxes if African Americans were paid reparations for slavery, mused about whether ‘homosexual churches’ exist and wondered aloud whether former attorney general Janet Reno ‘was a woman.’”

I was also struck by this bit of revisionism:

It’s not that the establishment is overly concerned about losing Cochran’s seat — this is Mississippi, after all, where a Democrat hasn’t been elected to the Senate in more than three decades. But party leaders are worried about feeding an impression that could hurt their chances elsewhere, in the same way Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri tarnished the GOP in 2012 when he referred to “legitimate rape.”

“One of the lessons of the Todd Akin disaster is that Democrats will not hesitate to tie the statements, behavior and controversies of one Republican candidate to all Republican candidates,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “This is the kind of stuff that the producers and hosts of MSNBC daytime programming salivate over.”

Maybe I’m mistaken, but I seem to remember some suggestion that McDaniel could, in fact, lose to a Democrat. Presumably, whoever was pushing that narrative has moved on to a more believable scenario for why Sen. Thad Cochran’s re-election should matter to Republicans nationwide …

Aside from caricaturing the south as a region where you’re either a gun-toting, rebel-flag-waving redneck, or a preppy southern frat “bro,” this piece should at least evoke some legitimate questions for Republicans to consider.

For example, should Republican nominees be selected based on defensive criteria such as: “What will Tamron Hall think of him?”

And does anyone really believe that something stupid uttered by McDaniel in Mississippi would prevent someone in Oregon from voting for Monica Wehby?

Prudence when selecting a nominee is one thing, but it’s possible the GOP establishment has gotten a little gun-shy of late.