Brat Beat the Establishment -- Now He Gets to Fight the Machine
Congratulations to Dave Brat, who will now find himself under sustained attack from both Republican and Democrat elements of the Democrat-leaning but "bipartisan" (or really, trans-partisan) Beltway machine. This could climax with the kind of sour grapes we've seen from the GOP Establishment before, in which they either imply, or outright state, that Virginians might be better off voting for the Democrat in the general election. I get the sense Brat is a solid enough candidate to avoid that extreme, but we shall see.
The GOP Establishment has a storyline about Tea Party candidates turning into human hand grenades during the general election, and they'll do their best to fit Brat into that narrative, because they want voters to think about it every time they consider supporting an insurgent candidate. Thus we have an utterly bizarre piece at the Wall Street Journal today, declaring that a reference to Nazi Germany made by Brat in a three-year-old magazine article is "likely to turn heads during Mr. Brat's first day as a Tea Party star."
Really? That's what everyone will be buzzing about today? They're all going to pull out their 2011 issues of "Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology" and tumble into their fainting couches when they read Brat's warning that Western civilization has not been permanently inoculated against the rise of a new Hitler? He's beyond the pale because he mused that the government's "monopoly on violence" can cause problems, if the State is not kept small and watched carefully?
Now, it is fair enough to ding Brat for a less-than-perfect appearance on today's media, although I think the Washington Examiner is a bit hard on the guy for not whipping out perfect answers to questions about the minimum wage and Syrian unrest. The concluding advice offered by Ashe Schow is solid, though: "We can forgive Brat for perhaps not being on his game after a wild night, but he’s going to have to get it together real quick now that he’s been thrust into the national spotlight."
I'd say the same to pretty much every insurgent and outsider candidate. They tend to underestimate how quickly they can be tackled to the ground after stumbling over an issue they didn't consider pertinent enough to master completely. Yes, your supporters are tired of the same old Washington game... but it's still there, waiting to destroy you if you don't play well. Every outsider enters as the underdog tribute from District 12, and the odds are never in your favor.
Part of the problem is that you're up against The Machine after you win that miracle primary, and that means you won't get as much help from the Republican sectors as their chosen candidate would have. Nobody powerful has your back... so watch it.