“If you love me, sue my client,” Bob Wills — the Alabama lawyer, not the Texas Playboy — told me when I was a pup in politics back when I covered the government there in the 1990s.
Bob was the county attorney (and now the mayor of Bay Minette) in Baldwin County on the coast, the crown jewel of the Redneck Riviera.
Political logic is as curved as a dog’s hind leg, Bob suggested to me. I think about his Alabama-spun insight and the multiple levels of politics and fairness more often these days.
That came into focus once again after my colleague and pal Ernest Luning broke the news that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign would spend money linking Colorado candidate Andrew Romanoff to liberal superstar Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when the squad leader from New York visited — where else? — Boulder last weekend.
Rather than fall wounded to the claim he’s too socialist for Colorado, Romanoff bragged about his relevance in response.
“Why would Mitch McConnell and his team spend so much money advertising against us?” Romanoff said in an email blast to potential donors. “As I told Rep. Ocasio-Cortez herself last night, they must be worried.”
So, Republicans spent money to link Romanoff to AOC, when Romanoff was AOK doing it himself for free.
Politics is more about the spin than the gravity.
It’s just human nature to see ourselves through a soft lens, as many candidates do. But reality eventually must be paid. In my mind and shower, I sing like Levi Stubbs. To everyone else, it's more like Pee-wee Herman. My “Bernadette” sounds like a hog slaughter.
Sometimes candidates don’t know they’re Pee-wee till Election Day.
President Trump and his best spin doctor, Rudy Giuliani, have offered a master class the past two weeks.
Yes, our president asked a foreign country to look at Joe Biden and his son, but, no, there was only good old American patriotism behind it, he says. Really? It seems more like the president wanted to take down a rival, not save the Ukraine from the kind of corruption that helped send his former campaign manager to prison.
Trump is banking on his supporters getting lost in the fog of his logic, because he knows they want to. The point that a foreign country is again being asked to help Trump win an election is just a familiar byproduct in the sausage of politics, if you’re a Trump supporter.
That's some good spin, if good means it works.
Take Trump’s economy. In reality, it is growing at about the same clip as it did when it was handed off to him by President Obama.
Yet, candidate Trump promised average annual economic growth of 3.5% or better, and so far he hasn’t hit that mark in a single quarter. He promised 25 million new jobs, topping the 23 million created under President Clinton two decades ago.
Trump's economy is projected to add about 6 million jobs in his first three years, or about 1.5 million fewer than President Obama during his first three years, which included the bottoming out of the recession.
Yet the president’s supporters can point to alternative economic views, which aren’t necessarily alternative facts, if that matters to them. It’s true that more people are working than ever before and the stock market is brisk, but it’s also true that climbing a 14er is less of a feat when you park your car at 8,000 feet.
“Politicians and pundits can always be counted on to spin the policy debate,” Stephen S. Roach, a Yale faculty member and the former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, wrote for the website Project Syndicate in June.
“For U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters, the art of the spin has been taken to a new level," Roach added. "Apparently, it doesn’t matter that federal deficits have been enlarged by an estimated $1.5 trillion over the next decade, or that government debt will reach a post-World War II record of 92% of GDP by 2029. The tax cuts driving these worrying trends are rationalized as what it takes to ‘Make America Great Again.’”
Then there’s the sales job before Romanoff, a capable leader and genuinely a nice guy whom I like a lot. He has to out-raise and outmaneuver former John Hickenlooper, the presumed reluctant moderate leading a crowded field of Democrats eager to take on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner next year.
Romanoff must convince Democratic voters he’s more like them than the affable former governor, and he does that by being more liberal than the anti-socialist Hick.
Gardner’s chief opponent, however, is a the Republican at the top of his ticket.
Gardner’s re-election will be hard enough, but with a 243-pound stable genius on his back, oh brother.
If Republicans are going to keep the Senate, they have to keep Gardner. If Trump somehow survives impeachment this time and wins a second term, yet Democrats take the thinly divided Senate, his presidency and his agenda are on life support.
Trump’s biggest Colorado backers have been quick to argue with me that Trump is more popular than Gardner in this state, based on early polling.
But that’s because of people like them, uber-conservatives who think Gardner isn’t making America great enough.
The thing is, if they love their president, they should be working passionately, if not desperately, to re-elect Gardner.
If you love Trump, vote for the senator you have issues with.