Every once in a while, someone writes the column that you wanted to write. Typically, this is annoying. But sometimes, they do it so much better than you would have, that all you can do is admire.
Such is the case with David Freddoso’s column on Chris McDaniel’s non-concession speech.
He begins by recalling Pat Toomey’s 2004 loss to Arlen Specter. Freddoso was covering the race at the time, and had become outraged by Specter’s lies about Toomey — coupled with the fact that the Republican establishment was supporting the then-incumbent senator:
But Toomey handled this personal defeat with dignity, even as he pledged to keep fighting for the cause. “We have to respect and honor the decision the people have made,” he said in his concession. Despite his differences of opinion with Specter, he said, “I have no difficulty supporting him now.”
“His lack of defiance irritated me then,” Freddoso confesses, “but Toomey’s gracious concession ultimately made sense. He lived not only to fight another day, but to win Specter’s seat.”
Unlike Toomey’s classy response, McDaniel responded to a similar type of circumstance in much less gracious fashion. As Freddoso continues,
This self-absorbed speech – which equated the broader conservative cause’s success with an already-lost election – reflects a relatively new tendency in conservative politics. Until recently, the party’s moderates – Wayne Gilchrest, Joe Schwarz, Lisa Murkowski, Dick Lugar – had always been the ones more likely to embrace the sore loser’s mantle, even as they and their allies complained that conservatives were destroying GOP unity. But the Right keeps finding new ways to give up the high ground.
For all the good things about the tea party, as Freddoso hints, McDaniel’s behavior may serve as a microcosm of the downside of the movement. The new breed seem more bitter — more willing to play the victim — than traditional conservatives of past years.
But McDaniel’s behavior might also come at a personal cost. Whereas Toomey was able to rise again, as John Gizzi reminds us,
@mattklewis Mr. Fredoso is rt. on no graciousness by losers. You have to go back to Andrew Jackson in 1824 for sore loser who went on to win
— John Gizzi (@johngizzi) June 26, 2014
We shall see if history continues.