By Bill Crawford
So, on Tuesday we get a clear choice. We can pick the candidate who wants to save America from Thad Cochran, or the candidate who wants to save Mississippi from Chris McDaniel.
To hear McDaniel and his Tea Party cronies tell it, Cochran is joined at the hip with Barack Obama and the cause of everything bad in America.
To hear Cochran and his cronies, most Mississippi leaders, tell it, McDaniel is a dangerous demagogue who will devastate Mississippi’s schools, colleges, universities, agriculture, defense industry, military bases, and so on.
So, which side is telling the truth?
For whatever reason, it doesn’t really seem to matter. Those backing McDaniel want to make a statement by throwing Cochran out, and if that means electing a demagogue or hurting the state, so be it. Those backing Cochran – which includes nearly every Mississippian in a position of leadership – fear the consequences of McDaniel so much, they’re pulling out all stops to thwart his upset bid.
The thing that sticks with me the most from this campaign is something McDaniel said early on to explain his anti-government, anti-spending philosophy: “I’m not going to do anything for you. I’m going to get the government off your back, then I’m gonna let you do it for yourself.”
He says potent things like this, then gets wishy-washy.
After McDaniel refused to answer questions about Farm Bill subsidies following a meeting with Delta farmers, the Greenwood Commonwealth wrote:
“McDaniel talks a good game about reining in an out-of-control Washington, but when confronted about what that might mean for Mississippi, where more than three federal dollars are returned for every tax dollar sent there, he either backtracks or dodges the question.
“Early in the campaign, the challenger questioned the tens of billions of dollars that Cochran helped secure for the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, but now McDaniel pronounces disaster relief a legitimate function of the federal government.
“He talks about there being nothing in the Constitution to justify federal involvement in education, then when confronted with the data of the billions of dollars that Washington provides to Mississippi’s kindergartens through graduate schools, he backs away and says he just wants to do away with the U.S. Department of Education, not the flow of money.
“Now it’s farm subsidies that he’s foggy about, apparently thinking he may need some Delta votes after all to win next Tuesday.”
McDaniel joins with Ted Cruz and Ron Paul on wanting to drastically cut spending to balance the budget, which includes cutting defense spending. But when faced with cuts that would cost jobs at Ingalls Shipbuilding, he said, “I will fight for Ingalls.”
It’s hard not to agree with the Commonwealth’s conclusion: “how much backbone does he really have?”
We’ll see if voters care on Tuesday.
Crawford (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.