Mixed Emotions

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Memo to Greg Gianforte: CONGRATULATIONS.

I know it's been a minute, and a lot's happened since THursday, but I'm happy Greg Gianforte won the special election in Montana.

Wait, no. That's not right. I'm not happy he won. Obviously, when you grab a reporter by the neck and slam him to the ground because he asked you a perfectly valid question about your support of the AHCA on the eve of your special election, you shouldn't get to be a Congressman. That's just common fucking sense.

But his winning is correct. Wait, no. That's not right either. I mean, he assaulted the reporter in the evening, lied about it being the reporter's fault Wednesday night, then apologized for attacking the reporter Friday, after being declared the winner. No politics that allow that to happen should ever be called "correct".

ACCURATE. That's the word. It's ACCURATE that he won the Montana after assaulting a reporter and lying about it. It's accurate that voters didn't believe it had happened even after Fox News reporters (!) came forward and gave their eyewitness accounts. It's accurate that other voters were glad it had happened and voted for him because of it, thanks to a year of Trump demonizing the media as enemies of the state. It's accurate that people voted early for Gianforte before this incident but after he basically said nobody should ever get to retire because Noah was working at age 700.

If Gianforte had lost, we would have gotten a very inaccurate impression of how acceptable his actions are viewed in Deep Red Trumpistan. We would have breathed a sigh of relief and reached the conclusion that there are limits to the brokenness of the system and perfidious tribalism of the right-wing electorate. Even though the past year has shown us no such limits exist.

Having won, he becomes part of the House GOP and they become unavoidably connected to him. They have to reckon with having him as part of their membership. They have to, as Arizona's Trent Franks did, blame liberals for the "confrontational approach" that led to slamming a reporter to the crowd, because that is how the politics of personal responsibility work.

I'm not saying that, inevitably, Republicans will have to come to grips with the increasingly openly racist, rapey, corrupt, harmful, win-at-all-costs, abandon-all-principles-for-any-slug-with-an-(R)-after-their-name attitude. That's not the kind of thing we cynics count on. But I do know that if they are going to be forced to reckon with it, it'll be because assholes like Gianforte win elections like this and the cumulative drag on the Republican brand will cost them heavily between now and 2018.

So, in that sense, yeah, I'm happy he won.