In 2014, the GOP establishment compelled a cognitively challenged decades-long incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran to run one more time in Mississippi in order to prevent a populist outsider in its own party from claiming the seat. Cochran, 76, made headlines with his alarming memory lapses and bizarre statements during the primary contest against Tea Party upstart Chris McDaniel. Cochran claimed to not “really know a lot about” the Tea Party and said he hadn’t heard that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had lost his seat in a primary election when that upset was the biggest sensation in American politics. Cochran raised plenty of eyebrows when he made a strange comment about doing “all kinds of indecent things to animals” when he was a child.
An Infamous Election
Despite all this, a Republican establishment spearheaded by Henry Barbour, nephew of powerful GOP insider Haley Barbour, conducted a brutally hostile campaign against McDaniel and even canvassed black Democrats in the state to cross over and vote for Cochran in the GOP runoff election. Cochran won. He went on to serve only a little more than three years of his six-year term before having to step down for health reasons and died in May 2019.
To highlight just how unprincipled the GOP establishment attacks on McDaniel were, Haley Barbour, who was outspoken in his support for Cochran throughout the lead-up to the primary runoff, used McDaniel’s opposition to the U.S. Department of Education to help attract Democrat voters for the GOP runoff and to cast racial shade on McDaniel.
“There are a lot of people who didn’t vote three weeks ago because they didn’t know he had said this that are now up in arms,” Barbour told NBC News in an interview. “Our state gets over a billion and a half dollars in federal funding for education, and Chris McDaniel says it’s unconstitutional? Some of those people are African-American. Some of them are Democrats.” Keep in mind, he was talking about a Republican primary runoff election.
This is the same Haley Barbour who served as an aide in GOP President Ronald Reagan’s administration and never missed an opportunity to describe himself as a “Reagan Republican” over the ensuing decades. One of Reagan’s signature policy planks when he first ran for the White House in 1980 was his strident determination to abolish the Education Department, a position he never disavowed. “I have never believed in federal control of the schools,” Reagan adamantly asserted during his ’80 campaign.
Tottering Joe Takes the Lead
Fast-forward to today and the similarities with Biden and the Democratic establishment are uncanny. Biden is 77, one year older than Cochran was when he was forced into his final Senate run. Though they are far different politically, populist progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), like McDaniel, is seen as a usurper who threatens the Old Guard’s control of the Democratic Party. Sanders is openly declaring that an orchestrated campaign is being run against him and suggesting the sudden departures from the presidential race and endorsements of Biden by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg right before critical Super Tuesday voting as evidence of political machinery in action.
After being re-elected, Cochran continued to deteriorate physically. In no way, shape, or form can it be argued that he provided adequate service to the people of Mississippi during his wheezing, shortened Senate term. A 2017 Politico article depressingly relates how unfit for office the man was.
“Cochran had to be guided by staffers around a security checkpoint inside the Capitol,” the article relates. “He started to walk into a first-floor room — though the Senate chamber is on the second floor. He was then ushered by an aide up to the Senate.”
At another point, he voted “yes” on an amendment at an Appropriations Committee despite an aide telling him to vote “no.” “The staffer tried to get the senator to switch his vote, but Cochran kept flashing the ‘thumbs up’ sign,” Politico reported.
The Republican establishment in 2014 shamelessly plopped an impaired man into a Senate seat in an effort to keep its hold on the levers of power in the party. It may have worked for the moment, but in the long run, the stunt only added fire to the growing grassroots rebellion within the party that propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination and then the White House in 2016.
The Democrat establishment seems fully prepared to push another political lifer with some questionable issues into office solely to preserve its cozy Swamp status. Only this time, it is not for a place in the Senate, as outrageous as that would be. Biden would become president of the United States, with all that that entails for our nation and the world.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.