JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 9, 2010
It's not very often you see a political party shoot itself in the foot by nominating an obviously terrible candidate when better alternatives are available. One exception is the Illinois Democrats, who turned what should be a safe seat into a competitive one by nominating Alex Giannoulias, whose family bank went under, for Senate. (Giannoulias hilariously said he would answer questions about the bank only after the primary, and Democratic voters even more hilariously decided to nominate him anyway.)
But the nomination of Republican Sharron Angle for Senate in Nevada stands on its own. This is a prime pick-up opportunity for the GOP. The incumbent, Harry Reid, is wildly unpopular in the state, and his defeat would be a prized pelt for the Republicans. Almost any warm body could beat him in a walk. But Angle appears to be a genuine lunatic:
* Inflammatory rhetoric: In an interview last month with the Reno Gazette-Journal, Angle had this to say about gun laws: "What is a little bit disconcerting and concerning is the inability for sporting goods stores to keep ammunition in stock," she told the newspaper. "That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn't that they are so distrustful of their government? They're afraid they'll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways. That's why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don't win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?"
* Abolishing wide swaths of the federal government: Angle believes the U.S. Education Department should be abolished, as she explains on her campaign Web site: "Sharron Angle believes that the Federal Department of Education should be eliminated. The Department of Education is unconstitutional and should not be involved in education, at any level." Angle went further in an interview with a Nevada online publication, writing that she favored the termination of the Energy Department, the EPA and much of the IRS tax code; complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
How crazy is Angle? Glenn Beck -- Glenn Beck! -- warned against her. She is at least somewhat tied to the militia movement. Moreover, she has undergone little scrutiny, and it's a good bet that more will produce of further radical views. Her nomination is just a staggering failure of the party establishment.