Made me laugh. It’s funny ’cause it’s true!
Brutal. Tucker Carlson tells “the sad and bewildering story of Dr. Oz”. “Dr. Oz is getting crushed by a stroke victim who was already crazy.” pic.twitter.com/nWPRKd7L3M
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) August 20, 2022
I regret to inform Carlson that the two most Tucker-ish Senate candidates on the ballot this year, J.D. Vance and Blake Masters, aren’t setting the world on fire in polling either despite their nationalist agendas. Vance will probably win his race due to Ohio’s heavy Republican lean but he’s only three points ahead of Tim Ryan, polling in the mid-40s, in a state Trump won by eight. Masters, meanwhile, trails Mark Kelly by eight in the 50/50 state of Arizona.
Tucker would probably chalk that up to Vance and Masters each facing strong candidates in their races, unlike Oz. Democrat Tim Ryan has spent years in the House and has smartly positioned himself as a Trumpy centrist in Ohio. And Kelly is an incumbent senator with an appealing personal biography and a knack for ducking contentious policy disputes. Vance and Masters have a much heavier lift in their races than Oz does — supposedly.
To believe that, though, you need to believe that John Fetterman is a weak candidate, someone who should be easily beatable. On paper, he is; you can’t put it any better than Tucker did in listing his liabilities. If Fetterman were a garden-variety progressive Dem with a serious health issue, the race would be tight. But he isn’t. Between his size, his (phony) working-class image, and his shrewd attacks on Oz’s authenticity, he “codes” as a rough-and-tumble blue-collar Pennsylvanian. It’s hard for voters to perceive him as ideologically extreme, even though he is, because he’s so relatable. The likability gap between him and Oz may be so wide at this point that even his stroke has become more a subject of sympathy among voters than a question of his fitness for office.
So, no, he’s not a weak candidate, particularly when you remember that he crushed an exceedingly centrist Democrat, veteran Conor Lamb, in the primary before he suffered his stroke. I’m also skeptical that Oz’s problem, as Tucker implies, is that he’s not talking about the things voters care about. Carlson went on in his monologue to identify “law and order” as a key concern that’s supposedly been left unaddressed in the Pennsylvania race, but it’s not true. Oz has run ads attacking Fetterman for being soft on crime. They were so harsh, in fact, that Team Fetterman asked local TV stations not to run them due to misleading claims about his record.
Doug Mastriano may be the single most unapologetic nationalist running anywhere in America this year. He’s right next to Oz on the ballot in Pennsylvania. And various polls also have him trailing his Democratic opponent badly, in some cases by 10 points. What’s Tucker’s excuse for that showing? Isn’t Mastriano talking about the things that are important to people?
What we’re seeing in the Carlson clip is righty commentators beginning to position themselves to blame their enemies within the party for what seems like an increasingly probable defeat in Pennsylvania. For Tucker, Oz’s problem is simple: Not enough nationalism! For Sean Hannity, the answer is also simple: It’s the establishment’s fault, obviously. Mitch McConnell, who speculated a few days ago that the Senate might not flip after all, should be out there fighting harder for Oz!
Hannity is blaming McConnell for Pennsylvania. Worth mentioning how much Hannity has propped up Oz throughout the campaign pic.twitter.com/HA18Q7YKwU
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 20, 2022
An interesting sidenote: It was Hannity, allegedly, who helped convince Trump to endorse his buddy Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania primary over Dave McCormick. He ran interference for Oz too during the home stretch of that campaign, helping him stave off a last-second rally by populist Kathy Barnette by declaring Barnette unelectable in a general election. Hannity himself will bear considerable blame if the GOP ends up losing this race, in other words. Frankly, I wonder if Carlson’s insistence that Oz is a bad candidate isn’t partially a way to tweak the guy who follows him in Fox’s line-up for his role in this mess.
Other MAGA fans in righty media have also taken to whining about McConnell’s alleged defeatism, which earned this rebuke from McConnell crony Josh Holmes:
Look who puts their money where their mouth is. If you have even an indication of who puts their back into this stuff and who doesn’t you’d have a different conclusion. Prob doesn’t fit an audience narrative though so… https://t.co/625MW80XTP
— Josh Holmes (@HolmesJosh) August 19, 2022
Blaming McConnell for poor candidate quality in Senate races this year, particularly in Pennsylvania, serves the interests of populists in various ways. By focusing on the centrist RINO Oz, they distract from the fact that most of the underperforming candidates on the ballot in swing states are populist cranks like Herschel Walker. By blaming McConnell, they also obscure the hard reality that virtually all of the GOP’s weakest nominees were endorsed and championed by Donald Trump. It was Trump, not McConnell, whose timely endorsement of Oz dragged him over the finish line in Pennsylvania. But the first rule of righty populism is that the God King must not be blamed for anything, even when it’s clear that he’s to blame, and so McConnell gets scapegoated for supposedly not doing enough.
The most egregious part of blaming McConnell instead of Trump is that it ignores the fact that Trump and his PAC have done next to nothing to help his endorsed candidates financially. To the contrary, Trump has made it harder for national organizations like the NRSC to raise money because his PAC keeps hoovering up contributions from small donors and then putting it in the bank for Trump’s use later instead of spending it on Republicans downballot who desperately need it. Who’s being forced to fill that financial vacuum to try to rescue Trump’s garbage candidates? Why, Mitch McConnell, of course:
That big spending is coming from a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which this week announced a whopping $28 million rescue effort in Ohio, where Republican candidate J.D. Vance raised a dismal $1 million in the second quarter and has spent less than $400,000 on ads.
The super PAC, known as the Senate Leadership Fund, also moved up by three weeks its spending in Pennsylvania and added $9.5 million there, for a total of $34 million. Recent surveys show the Keystone State’s Senate race drifting toward Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman over the Republican nominee, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz…
The Senate Leadership Fund, which typically expands spending in the final stretch after Labor Day, finished June with more than $100 million in the bank. Starting in September, the PAC has reserved $14.4 million in Arizona, $37.1 million in Georgia, $15.1 million in Nevada, $27.6 million in North Carolina, $15.2 million in Wisconsin and $7.4 million in Alaska.
Why isn’t Trump doing round-the-clock fundraisers for Vance, Masters, Walker, and Oz? Because: He doesn’t care about the party except as a vehicle for his own interests, and evidently doesn’t care enough about his endorsement track record to spend real money helping his endorsees. Anyone who thinks McConnell — a “party guy” if ever there was one — is more culpable than Trump for the GOP’s current predicament in Senate races either has a head injury or is lying to their populist audience to scapegoat someone whom that audience already regards as a villain. Judge for yourself which it is in Hannity’s case.