Sharron Angle struggles on the national stage
How does a political protest movement that encompasses some 30 percent of Americans sit on the national stage? Not always so comfortably, it turns out. U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle of Nevada, a tea party favorite who is running to unseat Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been trying to pull off this awkward balancing act since she won the GOP primary last month. In her latest entry in national political debate, liberal political websites including the Huffington Post have picked up on a radio interview Angle gave last week detailing her opposition to abortion in cases involving incestuous rape. The hypothetical example that KXNT-AM host Alan Stock presented to Angle was a 13-year-old girl impregnated by her father. Angle replied:
"My own personal feelings--and that is always what I express--my personal feeling is that we need to err on the side of life. There is a plan and a purpose and a value to every life no matter what its location, age, gender or disability. ... I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at-risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade."Angle's comments reflect an institutional dilemma for candidates like herself and fellow tea party favorite Rand Paul, the Republican nominee in Kentucky's open Senate race. Both candidates are mounting major statewide campaigns in nationalized races without the full benefit of their own national party's support.
After suffering some unwelcome scrutiny for his libertarian critique of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Paul has tried to reassure GOP establishment figures that he's ready for prime time by edging toward the mainstream.
But Angle has so far tried a different, split-screen approach to her campaign, continuing to pitch campaign appeals to her conservative base while avoiding the national mainstream press. As a result, her campaign has suffered a series of difficulties that may serve as cautionary tales for future tea party candidates. Here's a review:
• In a KXNT radio interview this week, Angle labeled BP's $20 billion compensation program "a slush fund" and said Democrats were using the Gulf oil disaster to help jump-start cap-and-trade energy reform efforts, the Associated Press reports. Many observers blasted Angle for the remarks — including President Obama, who used Angle's words to label her as "extreme." Angle backtracked on the "slush fund" characterization, terming it "incorrect" in a statement on her website Thursday.
• In two separate interviews Wednesday on conservative radio, Angle said Reid's campaign attacks were attempts to "hit the girl," Politico reported. It quoted her as saying on Stock's show: "It is also the corruption in Washington, D.C., that is characterized by Harry Reid — let's-make-a-deal cronyism, politics as usual — and so we’re saying: 'Dirty Tricks' Harry is up to his dirty tricks one more time, and he’s just trying to hit the girl."
• Angle gave an interview July 2 to conservative blog Hot Air in which she went on the defensive, clarifying that she is not aligned with the so-called birther movement, which questions the legitimacy of Obama's U.S. citizenship. "In the past few days," blogger Ed Morrissey wrote, "rumors have swirled that Angle is a crypto-birther. I asked her 'flat out' whether she believed Barack Obama was born somewhere other than Hawaii, and she replied, 'No. Is that flat-out enough for you?'"
• This is all to say nothing of Angle's past policy positions, some of which were featured on the web page that the Reid campaign resurrected. Democrats can be expected to exploit several of Angle's stands as too extreme for mainstream or independent voters in the November ballot. Among them are her support for phasing out Social Security and Medicare; for repealing the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which established the federal income tax; and for abolishing the federal Department of Education.
For the love of all things holy, do not read the comments at the source. I have a sort of morbid fascination with this woman. I saw one of her interviews last week and the woman has no idea what she's talking about. It's rather entertaining to watch.