By Lynn R. Mitchell
The heels-dug-in-the-sand campaign of Chris McDaniel, who recently lost the Mississippi Republican primary to Senator Thad Cochran, is the subject of the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank who found humor in the political situation currently taking place in the Deep South (see The tea party’s embrace of martyrdom):
Hiroo Onoda, the last imperial Japanese soldier to surrender after World War II, hid out in a jungle in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that the war was over. He finally turned himself in, wearing his sword, cap and patched uniform, in 1974.
Onoda died this year at age 91, but his passion for lost causes lives on — in the person of Chris McDaniel, a failed Senate candidate in Mississippi.
One pictures McDaniel emerging from Mississippi’s Black Creek Wilderness 29 years from now, his suit muddy and his Don’t-Tread-on-Me flag shredded by alligators, finally conceding to Cochran, who will then be 105 years old and preparing to run for his 12th six-year term.
Imperial Japan taught its soldiers that death was preferable to surrender. The tea party’s code is similar: Stand firm, regardless of the odds of success or the consequences of failure. I’ve argued before that the struggle between the Republican establishment and the tea party is no longer about ideology — establishment figures have mostly co-opted tea party views — but about temperament.
It has become the amiable vs. the angry, the civil vs. the uncivil, a conservatism of the head vs. a conservatism of the spleen. The division now is between those who would govern and those who would sooner burn the whole place to the ground — and, in this struggle, McDaniel carries a torch.
All joking aside, the standoff in Mississippi continues with McDaniel’s vow to not give up the fight even after Cochran was certified the winner.
Meanwhile, the face of graciousness can be seen in candidates who endured unexpected losses, most recently Eric Cantor and, before, Mitt Romney, George H.W. Bush, and George Allen, to name a few.
Milbank ends his column with one last poke:
So why does McDaniel persist with a scorched-earth campaign that will damage the party and set a new standard for sore losing? Maybe he’s thinking all will be forgotten by the time he gives his concession speech. In 2043.
Stay tuned … the drama continues.