By S. John Brennan –
Michelle Nunn’s U.S. Senate campaign was an out-of-touch delusion from the start.
She started out sold on the notion that her name was an undeniable asset. Yet on November 4 she was whipped 60 to 40 percent in Houston County– the seat of her family’s political roots. That a reliable political base was still in place for a Nunn in Middle Georgia was a delusion dating from 2008, when Michelle’s father Sam Nunn publicly and vigorously supported the ultraliberal presidential candidate Barack Obama to the profound consternation of nearly all in those parts.
Michelle also bought into the theory, widely advanced in liberal circles, that the “crazy” Tea Party would force through the Republican Party the nomination of a Neanderthal man, one who would spout forth “truisms” on the origin of our world and of mankind, or maybe on women’s natural defenses against conception due to rape. Congressmen Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey would do nicely, to be clipped off easily by a Nunn “moderate” lawnmower. In fact the Tea Party was a modestly important factor, but was nowhere near a decisive force, in the 2014 race. Michelle would be forced to campaign against a candidate not at all in line with her delusion.
In a monstrous delusion, Michelle believed she could stay out of the Democrat primary fray– for 10 months never appearing in any unstructured public forum. Although a political novice, she believed she could duck “spring training” and still be ready to hit curve balls when the big league season began. Finally forced in May to show her stuff by participating in the last debate before the Democrat primary, she deluded herself that no harm could come from appearing in an innocuous exhibition game. Uttering into the TV recorder the words “I value my service with President Obama,” and following that with “I defer to the president’s judgment” in answer to questions that any experienced candidate would have sloughed off harmlessly, Michelle destroyed her campaign before it really began. Her Republican opponent would never have to stretch and strain to tie her to the politically poisonous president; Michelle had managed that beautifully with her own words. The Republican National Committee would gladly have paid millions for the TV recorded remarks she gave them for free that evening in May!
Politically dead as a duck from self-inflicted wounds as she walked off the GPTV debate stage, Michelle deluded herself that she could bob and weave away from Obama when necessary in the upcoming campaign, and that her words of embrace that night would drift off harmlessly into the ether.
Aided by willing enablers in the media, notably Atlanta Journal Constitution writers Jim Galloway and Jay Bookman, a cascade of delusion spewed forth once the curtain went up on the real race against GOP candidate David Perdue.
First we were assured we were living in a “new” more “progressive” Georgia wherein a tide of young professional women, and men too, plus many new arrivals to Georgia from less reactionary locales– Latinos, newly enfranchised blacks, blah blah blah– would roll like waters over “old” Georgia. Galloway and Bookman opined incessantly along these lines, and were proved dead wrong on November 4. The Peach State decidedly had not morphed into “Georgiachusetts” despite their wishful thinking.
Next, Michelle deluded herself that these new progressives, and many old-line Georgians as well, would cotton to a “message without an edge” — let’s all work together, no bickering, reach across the aisle– in a word, “collaborate.” She believed this would trump horribly self -centered notions concerning personal future prospects for prosperity and security. Her message seemed to be “Let’s Get Mild in Washington,” whereas 42 years earlier her father had rocketed to a Georgia Senate seat with the edgy admonition “Let’s Get Tough in Washington.” She and her media enablers had deluded themselves that times had changed that much in the Peach State.
Badly misreading her audience, Michelle went on a crusade to persuade the voters that her opponent was a truly bad, selfish man– one who would callously turn his back on poor working women as long as he made off with his millions. Michelle sought to persuade women– the savviest personal economists ever created— that “outsourcing” was a tool of the Devil rather than a widespread, understandable tactic in the never-ending battle to ensure dollar-stretching value in the products purchased by individuals and families in American markets. Deluding herself that savvy voters wouldn’t see through her flimsy, naive arguments, she merely succeeded in highlighting just how out of touch with economic reality a non-profit maven can be.
As for her delusional portrayal of Perdue as a man whose life story is one of self-interested greed, well, as they might say down Houston County way, “that dog didn’t hunt.”
When an internal strategy memo was obtained and publicly printed by a national magazine, her opponent sought to tie Michelle to the most inflammatory passage contained therein— that she could be vulnerable to an attack that she, acting through her non-profit Points of Light foundation, had furnished financial aid to an organization labeled by Israel as being a conduit to Hamas terrorists. Michelle decided to expend considerable time and money putting forth contorted, confusing denials to the issue which 1) essentially amounted to another self-inflicted wound, and 2) at the very least contained shreds of truth sufficient to spark a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” response by voters.
In a recent AJC column, Nunn cheerleader Galloway opined that she had performed a stunning display of jujitsu in flipping her opponent’s attack back on him by challenging his decency for daring to use her campaign’s own words to call into question her judgment and commitment in America’s war on terrorism. But “where’s the beef?” to support Galloway’s martial arts metaphor? November 4 vote totals for non-black voters clearly show that Michelle’s reverse attack never achieved meaningful traction. One can only marvel that Galloway actually gets paid to spout such a steady stream of delusional nonsense.
Since November 4, Nunn, Galloway, Bookman and the rest of their ilk have burrowed their heads deep in the sand to avoid confronting a stain of shame which will be attached to Nunn forever. Her disgusting use of race-baiting flyers in an attempt to inflame black voters and pump up black turnout converted her campaign from an embarrassment into a disgrace. When confronted with demands that she cease circulation of the flyers, Michelle dug in and doubled down. She claimed the flyers would encourage a helpful “conversation” about racial issues.
Condemned by Condoleeza Rice, America’s leading black citizen, as being disgusting and disgraceful, Michelle’s race baiting tactics at least served one useful purpose— unmasking her as a hard-edged charlatan far removed from the saintly self-portrayal she peddled.
The voters saw through Michelle Nunn. On November 4 they delivered a stunning message of rejection. She received less than a quarter of the non-black vote, losing 127 of Georgia’s 159 counties. It’s hard to conjure up a delusion to explain away such a drubbing, but rest assured Nunn and her fellow travelers Galloway, Bookman and others will give it a try. Stand by for ponderously learned observations that her campaign “made a difference, advancing the ball for the future.” Their delusions never end!
The author is the research director for POLITICOM-Georgia, and was assisted by Jennifer Brand.