There’s really not much of a chance that Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), the internet troll who wastes his taxpayer-funded congressional salary by spending all day tweeting far-right zingers, will ever defeat Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the forthcoming Texas senate primary.
But dammit Stockman won’t be bested without a flailing, incoherent fight. Even though he only has a (don’t laugh) $32,000 war chest compared with Cornyn’s $7 million, Stockman is fortified with Crazy Strength — the ability to, no matter what happens or who objects, shamelessly blurt unhinged fits of extremist crapola that’d make Louie Gohmert go, “That’s f*cking nuts!” And for the next three months, we’ll all be treated to a relentless shock-and-awe campaign of the most insane paleo-tea-party TV ads, web videos and, of course, Twitter outbursts unlike anything we’ve observed from the margins of the American political debate.
And I honestly think I’m understating it.
We begin with the new Stockman for Senate website on which the candidate posted what can only be described as an anti-Cornyn fundraising manifesto — practically a laundry list of incoherent demands, with each sentence as its own standalone thought, not unlike his wacky Twitter feed. In it, Stockman uses the phrase “liberal John Cornyn” 21 times, not including an additional four appearances of the phrase in Stockman’s Twitter side-bar widget.
“Liberal John Cornyn betrayed Ted Cruz by abandoning Republicans during the Obamacare filibuster.”
“If liberal John Cornyn loves being a senator he can move to Massachusetts.”
“They do not want compromising leftists who undergo election-year conversions, then back again – and liberal John Cornyn is the worst offender.”
Yes, John Cornyn, with his 100 percent rating from the Christian Coalition and “A” rating from the NRA, is a leftist. A leftist.
Fact: according to the National Journal, in 2012 Cornyn was the second least liberal member of the U.S. Senate. In other words, the only senator who’s more conservative than Cornyn was Sen. James Risch (R-ID). In his screed about “liberal John Cornyn,” Stockman references all of the bills he’s co-sponsored with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). But, whoops!, Rand Paul is ranked sixth on the list of most conservative senators. Cornyn is second. For what it’s worth, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who thinks the climate crisis is a hoax, is ranked 14th!
According to Open Congress, in 2013 Cornyn voted with the GOP caucus 89 percent of the time, while Stockman voted with his party 91 percent of the time. There’s a two percent difference between the two candidates. So in terms of purity, Stockman is only two percentage points more loyal to his party than Cornyn.
But silly us, expecting Steve Stockman to suddenly shed his reputation as an escaped mental patient and to engage in fair and honest politics. Remember — Crazy Strength. The second most conservative senator is a liberal. Because Crazy Strength. That and the fact that Cornyn acted like a grown-up and helped to finally put an end to the grabassery that was Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) filibuster.
And that’s truly the line of demarcation in the Texas primary. A (sometimes) grown-up versus a smirking weirdo who wrote in his manifesto, “Every Republican who works to fund Obamacare kills freedom twice as quickly as when a Democrat does it.” I have no idea what that means.
Ultimately, it’s not about who’s more conservative, it’s about who’s more radical. It’s a dynamic that’s forcing otherwise reasonable, though still conservative, Republicans to shift rightward and to frankly behave in a more fringy way in order to compete with the loud noises on the flank. The upside is that Stockman’s Crazy Strength will be on full display for the entire national Republican establishment and voting public who will observe how brutally out of control this tea party gaggle has become. Perhaps it’ll be enough for the GOP to deactivate this monster it’s conjured.
As we witnessed last week when Alex Jones rejected a conspiracy theory for being too insane, far-fight tea party groups are already distancing themselves from Stockman. I think they’re realizing having that Stockman front-and-center on the national stage, wigging out with his trollish screeching, will be very bad for business.