GOP Follies

How Long Can the Republicans Hide The Crazy?

No Todd Akins or Richard Mourdocks so far this year. But there’s still time—and here are some candidates who might slip.

09.20.14 10:45 AM ET

I have to give the Republicans credit for one thing in this election cycle. They’ve been able to keep their crazies quiet. But the big question is: Will some GOP crazy talk seep out between now November 4? In the words of Sarah Palin, I’d have to say, “You betcha.”

We’ve recently seen some glimmers of Republican lunacy. Just last week the Arizona State Republican Party’s vice-chair, Russell Pearce, offered this gem: “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations.” Translation: forced sterilization of poor women to make sure they don’t have more babies. Pearce resigned on Sunday.

That’s an awful remark. But that wouldn’t even get him to the GOP final four of crazy when you compare it with the crap we’ve heard come of the mouths of Republican candidates in recent years. 

 Who can forget in 2012 the double whammy of GOP Senate candidates comments about rape? First, there was Rep. Todd Akin who told us when there’s a “legitimate rape” of a woman, her body somehow is able to magically block the unwanted pregnancy.

 Then came Indiana’s Senate nominee, Richard Mourdock, who told us that pregnancy from rape is in essence a good thing because it’s “something God intended.” Consequently he, like Akin, believed that women who were raped should be legally required to carry the rapist’s child to term.

 And in 2010, there was Sharron Angle, who lost a possibly winnable Senate race against Harry Reid in Nevada with comments like people might need to look toward “Second Amendment remedies” to turn this country around and “the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” It’s not often—in America at least- we see politicians suggest that maybe their political opponent should be shot.

Now some might ask: Maybe we aren’t hearing those types of remarks because the Republican Party no longer has right-wing crazies? (I’ll pause so you can finish laughing.) True, some “wacko birds,” to quote John McCain, lost in the primaries this year, but still the GOP still is chock full o’ nuts.

And I think we are well positioned to see some of these candidates take a journey on the crazy train in the closing weeks of this election cycle. Why? Three reasons. First, the debates are coming up, and as we saw in 2012 with Mourdock, the more these people talk in an unscripted forum, the more likely the guano will ooze out.

Second, in the tighter races, the candidates are feeling the heat. Consequently, they may make an unforced error or try to offer some red meat to the far right hoping it brings their base out in what’s expected to be a low-turnout election.

Finally, there are some male Republican candidates for Senate, like Colorado’s Corey Gardner and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, who are playing with dynamite. By that I mean they’ve decided to talk birth control thinking it can help them, but one slip up on this issue, and cue the “Republican war on women” headlines.

Any of these scenarios could be trouble for the GOP. And not just for the candidate who made the comment, but it could put Republicans on the defensive nationwide. So in the vein of March Madness, here are my picks for the Final Four of the 2014 GOP championship of crazy.

1. Jody Hice—Choosing Hice is like picking Duke or UConn in the NCAA basketball tournament. Hice, the GOP nominee in Georgia’s conservative 10th congressional district, has already given us a buffet of cuckoo. He has made horribly anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments, plus he thinks women should only run for political office if their husbands consent. And as Stephen Colbert noted two weeks ago, Hice recently confused a quote made by John Quincy Adams with one made by Dolly Parton.

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2. Rep. Joni Ernst—The GOP Senate nominee in the battleground state of Iowa has the potential to serve up a prime cut of crazy. During the primary, she stated that U.S. laws “come from God,” and judges must be aware of that when deciding cases. She has called Obama a “dictator,” suggested impeaching him, and advocated that states be able to nullify federal laws they don’t agree with. Plus she gave us a Palinesque commercial where she rode a Harley Davidson while shooting a gun, promising voters that “once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s gonna unload.”

3. Thom Tillis—Although the Republican Senate nominee in the Tar Heel State is a veteran politician, he still might just deliver up a whopper. In 2011, Tillis did give us a comment that conjures up the ghost of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark when he told a crowd: “what we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance.” And just a few months ago, Tillis offered us this beaut: Unlike blacks and Hispanics, the “traditional population” in our country isn’t growing.

4. Sam Brownback—The Kansas Governor might be the sleeper in this race to crazy. He’s in a tight reelection campaign and he’s very right wing. In fact, during a TV interview in 2012, he told a female caller that if she didn’t like the fact that her boss didn’t want to cover her birth control because of his religious beliefs, she should “go work somewhere else.”

Those are my top four. Sure, I could’ve picked others. There are perennial wingnut powerhouses like Iowa Rep. Steve King and Texas’ resident wacko Rep. Louie Gohmert, but I’m feeling pretty good with my choices.

So now it’s time sit back and let the games begin. I can almost guarantee you that in the final weeks of this campaign one of the above candidates will make headlines with some outrageous comment. For people like Hice, who is in a safe GOP district, it may not matter. But for those in tight races like Tillis and Ernst, one slip up could allow a Democratic candidate to be the Cinderella story of this year. And a few Akin-esque gaffes could actually help Democrats be bracket busters and retain control of the Senate and pick off a few governorships.