The Harry Reid vs Sharron Angle Nevada Senate debate was the first full debate I’ve watched this cycle. It was a pretty painful affair. Harry Reid is not a charismatic speaker and he frequently falls into Senate-ese (talking about the CBO repeatedly and rushing over complex bill paths in ways that kept them confusing). And Sharron Angle, well, makes you wish for the TV-ready soundbites of Christine O’Donnell. At least O’Donnell’s incoherent was with the content of her ideas alone and didn’t have sentence structure as an added epistemological smoke bomb.
Dave Weigel watched the debate and writes:
Asked whether she still believed, as she did as a state legislator, that health insurance companies should not be obligated to cover certain procedures, Angle responded with a cold answer about free markets. “You don’t have to force anyone to buy a product that no one wants.” This allowed Reid to do what Democrats have not been able to do credibly since the start of the health care debate: Position himself against the insurance companies, as a watchdog on their abuses. Angle’s follow-up was also weirdly cold. Reid had rambled a bit about how the Susan Komen and other anti-breast cancer campaigns proved how worried the public was about treatment, so Angle riffed: “Pink ribbons are not going to help anyone have a better insurance plan.” What does that even mean? Let’s say the government is totally removed from health insurance — wouldn’t third-party fundraising pressure groups play an important role in keeping companies honest?
The Tea Party has largely been Republicanism without the time-tested rhetorical tools that hide what Republicans are actually trying to do in government. It’s not different, it’s just less polished. As a result, Tea Party candidates come across as cruel, crass, and solipsistic. This was particularly true with Sharron Angle, whose notion of compassion seems to be limited to poor multinational corporations who are unfairly prohibited from selling toxic toys or spoiled meats.
Readers of this blog know that I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of Harry Reid over his tenure as Senate Leader. He’s certainly shown himself better of late and I absolutely hope he gets reelected. But beyond whatever affection I have for Reid, my fear of what someone as fundamentally unqualified as Sharron Angle would do in the Senate is truly motivating. Angle is ideologically incompatible with governance – and she’s probably the most qualified of the Tea Party Senate nominees. To that end, here’s Tom Tomorrow’s vision of some of what we’ll get from this Tea Party crowd, if they’re elected to the Senate.