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The Howard Beale Moment


If you live in a U.S. Senate battleground state like I do, chances are you’re under the impression the Koch Brothers are on the ballot this November and not the actual Republican nominee.

With no record of accomplishment to run on, and finding themselves on the wrong side of every issue voters are the angriest about this year, Democrats have decided to run against the Koch Brothers instead. Painting two men, who have created more jobs and incomes for families than the Obama economy, as symbolic of greed and evil. Of course, the Democrats neglect to tell you that according to Open Secrets only five of the top 20 big money political donors from 1989-2014 gave more money to Republicans than Democrats. That includes — gasp! — Goldman Sachs, which has given about $25 million to Democrat candidates/causes.

But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a little class warfare.

Predictably, most Republicans are just sitting there and taking it. It’s just our way. Because, consultants.

However, here in Iowa where I live, Republican Senate nominee Joni Ernst took time out of reminding us for the 10 millionth time she’s a soldier and a mom to show us there’s a real person lurking behind the carefully crafted talking points after all. Capable of righteous indignation when being demagogued, even. And by doing so, she might have finished off whatever flailing hopes Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley had of holding on to the retiring Senator Tom Harkin’s seat.

After exchanging milquetoast pabulum for milquetoast pabulum with Braley for almost an hour in the recent Iowa Senate debate that felt more like a sleep study, towards the end Ernst had finally had enough of Bruce “where’s my towel service” Braley repeatedly smearing her and the Kochs. So she nailed Braley for his ties to Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager turned global warming cultist, in an exchange that visibly stunned Braley. According to the Leftist publication Mother Jones, Steyer is spending almost $50 million this election for Democrats like Braley. Running bizarre ads that have been described as “the political equivalent to Miley Cyrus twerking.”

People loved Ernst’s zinger, and Iowa conservative activists I’m friends with on Facebook immediately began sharing it on social media. This was the first real buzz about this campaign since Ernst’s now legendary “Squeal” ad when she talked about castrating Washington, D.C. That ad catapulted Ernst from also-ran to overwhelming-primary winner. Conservatives have been waiting for that sassy Ernst to re-emerge in the general election, because it touches a nerve with an electorate that is far angrier about what Obama is doing to the country than most Republican candidates this year seem to be. Herein may lie the key to a watershed election for the GOP.

The environment is as against Democrats this year as it was against Republicans in 2006. Democrats cannot win this year, but Republicans could lose. And Republicans can lose the same way they usually lose, by playing prevent defense with the game tied or running out the clock when they’re still behind.

Voters want to know you’re as fired up and frustrated about the downward direction of the country as they are. It might be impossible to be angrier than the electorate in this election cycle. By calling Braley on his limousine liberal hypocrisy, Ernst channeled that angst into energy for her campaign. So the lesson to candidates like Ernst and those running elsewhere is stop listening to your beltway consultants, and start following your gut and listening to your constituents.


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