By now most Missourians have probably read about Rep. Brian Nieves (R-Washington), Republican candidate for the the 26th District Senate Seat, who allegedly assaulted Shawn Bell, a campaign aide for his primary rival, Republican Richard Stratman. According to Bell, Nieves held him at gunpoint, forcing him to undress and humiliate himself while Nieves raved about his putative misdeeds during the primary.
Now Nieves has gone off again – this time blasting the state GOP at a “prayer vigil” held by supporters Monday night. He used the opportunity to blame his legal troubles on the “kingmakers and the powerbrokers in the state of Missouri” who want to keep him out of government because he “”won’t be a lap dog. … There is no way they will ever control Brian Nieves.”
As in his earlier emails to supporters concerning the Bell affair, he employed grandiose, self-inflating rhetoric to make the case that he is being persecuted by vague, corrupt powers – unnamed state GOP powerbrokers who want to halt his “ascension” to the Senate seat, although Nieves knows that he will prevail because no less than “God has his hand all over this situation.” Compare this to the over-the-top tone of one of the emails he has been sending out:
We all know that the ‘Old Guard’ is very much threatened by all of us who will NOT bow down to The Machine and they are willing to literally destroy a man’s life to make sure nobody else gets the bright idea of standing up to them!
The Machine! Really! Is he saying that the Machine manufactured the Shawn Bell ruckus? And as long as we’re talking about troubling behavior, both FiredUp! and the St. Louis Activist Hub have noted that Nieves rhetoric has shown disturbing tendencies in the past. There is also, if we want to stroll down memory lane in search of portents of trouble ahead, the incident between Nieves and Trent Skaggs (D-North Kansas City) on the House floor, which escalated into a physical tussle in which they had to be separated by other House members.
Doesn’t all this hair-trigger rage, paranoia and overblown bombast strike you as an almost incomprehensible overreaction – on the part of the winner yet – a primary winner with big margins who will probably dance all over the Democratic opponent, “Boots” Webber – if he doesn’t blow it with his extreme behavior? Nieves is a politician after all; how can he continue to function if he is so easily aggravated by the “politics ain’t beanbag” facts of a tiny, little state political campaign? It’s difficult not to conclude that somebody ought to be looking out for this guy.
And it is clear that that somebody won’t be the Missouri Republican party which seems to have drawn a rather oblique lesson from the Bell affair. Instead of expressing concern about Nieves, they are instead calling for new intra-Party, primary only campaign rules that will proscribe the dirty tricks that seems to characterize their particular brand of go-for-the jugular campaigning. Which would, of course, be laudatory in a more neutral situation, but in this instance it does seem to be a case of blaming the victim – no matter how sleazy the victim may be.
As for the Tea Party? Certainly we know that there is no real concern for Nieves health in the rantings of Tea Party publicity hound Dana Loesch. Loesch’s only contribution so far is to declare that Shawn Bell, a well-established Republican political figure, is a “dishonest Democratic operative,” coupled with a little of the usual entertaining dreck that she is so good at manufacturing. However it’s difficult not to
worry be disturbed by Nieves’ rank-and-file Tea Party supporters who respond to his ravings with applause, and have no hesitation in cheering his over-the-top assertions, and even in naming the names he hesitates to mention:
Nieves declined to identify who the state “kingmakers” were, but asserted, “I know who they are, and they probably know I’m about to ‘out’ them.”
The emcee of the event, Cindy McGee — chairwoman of Show-Me Patriots, a conservative group aligned with the Tea Party movement — was not so reticent.
“James Harris and Jeff Roe are going down!” shouted McGee, referring to two top Republican consultants who had worked for Stratman… .
These are the people that the GOP is trying to keep worked up so that they will turn out and sweep them back into power – people who seem ready to haul out the torches and pitchforks on cue – anybody’s cue*. One has to ask, how is that responsible politics?
One can only feel sympathy for Nieves when we learn that the main reaction on the part of the above-mentioned James Harris was to remark that he and Nieves share the same goal – to keep the seat in Republican hands. Apparently, Harris and the other malevolent “kingmakers” don’t care just how shaky those hands are as long as they carry the same partisan banner.
* Edited to clarify meaning in the next to last paragraph; two typos elsewhere were corrected.