Oh, THAT Tea Party ...

Laugh at them, sneer at them, but you still can't write them off.  Not that the Tea Party's defeat of Eric Cantor in Virginia is anything to celebrate just yet . . . we have already seen too many examples of Tea Party infiltrators who failed to win a November election, in some cases allowing the Democrats to hold on to a perfectly winnable Senate seat for another six years.

As a 'follower' of southern Democrats (I mean in an academic, rather than 'rock 'n' roll', way), I am intrigued by the possibility that if Chris McDaniel defeats six-term incumbent Thad Cochran in the June 24th run-off, then Mississippians may well end up supporting the Democrats' candidate, Travis Childers.  I am reminded of Cochran's recent remark that he had 'heard' of the Tea Party.  No doubt the massive news coverage of the Virginia debacle has helped him to understand what he is up against a little better.

The big mystery for me in all this is why Cochran is hanging on. McDaniel's narrow victory over Cochran in the first stage of Mississippi's Republican primaries led many commentators to surmise that it was perhaps Cochran's assumption of re-election that led to his lifeless campaign, during which he made very few public appearances and seemed to underestimate the strength, popularity and organisational savvy of his opponent.

On the one hand, the man is 76 years of age, so it is perhaps understandable that his was the less energetic of the two campaigns.  On the other hand, the man is 76 years of age and his wife lives in a nursing home, so why the hell does he want to carry on as a senator for another six years?  I am reminded of Bill Hicks's remarks on Jimmy White: 'Doesn't this guy have a home to go to?'  Apparently, Mrs Cochran has been in a nursing home for fourteen years.  I would not have known this had it not been for the controversy involving a right-wing blogger (and McDaniel supporter) who somehow gained access to the premises and photographed the senator's wife in bed.  Wouldn't Mrs Cochran be better off if Thad retired and spent more time with her?  It concerns me that he wants to press on until he's 82, particularly as she has been in the nursing home for so long already.

I don't know if it's the old southern machismo, or just the cliche of the old bloke who thinks he will live forever, but I certainly hope it's not a touch of the emotionally-withdrawn man who uses work as his excuse for staying away from his family.  Come on, Thad.  Your place in Mississippi's history is assured.  Go and spend some time with your wife.

James O.