There’s a saying in politics that elections are won by those who show up. Perhaps that’s so for voters, but a key part of U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner’s strategy for re-election in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District is to not show up.
The paper notes that Wagner can’t even manage to put correct contact information on her campaign Webpage and concludes that her silent campaign stragegy is predicated on fear of a “fatal error.”
Think about it. Wagner wants to continue representing our interests in Washington. Yet she is clearly worried that standing on her past record and letting her constituents hear her defend positions could stall her political career. Bear in mind that Wagner has been touted as a big part of the GOP’s answer to the “war on women” rubric that was inflamed by folks like her predecessor, Rep. Todd Akin of “legitimate rape” fame. Doesn’t her campaign behavior suggest that perhaps the main difference between the two is simply that she’s able to hold her tongue?
This strategy certainly seems to be prevalent in the Republican party as a whole this time around. Take, for example, the Iowa senatorial candidate, Joni Ernest, another one of those GOP women who have been notably eager to out-bluster the ignorant and angry old white men that dominate the party. One reason that so many commentators try to claim (falsely) that Republicans have stepped back from the radical right wing precipice they’ve been rushing toward is that extremists like Ernest have been persuaded to either adopt the same strategic silence as Wagner – or, as in the case of Colorado’s Cory Gardner, to disavow their more extreme positions for the nonce. Of the gun-toting, agenda 21-fearing, conspiracy-mongering Ernest, Greg Sargent suggests, apropos her unwillingness to meet with the editorial boards of Iowa’s major newspapers, that:
… Ernst doesn’t see interviews with newspaper editorial boards as an opportunity; she sees them as a threat. According to nearly all recent polling, the Republican leads this race, despite her often bizarre radicalism and conspiracy theories. Why sit down for lengthy, in-depth interviews, face questions about her extremist ideology and fringe ideas, and risk making matters worse for herself with inadequate answers in the campaign’s closing days?
Much the same could be said of Wagner. There may still be some folks out there who think of her as the anti-Akin although there seems to be little difference between the two when it comes to their voting record, a fact that might become salient in a more open forum than those she selects.
Nor is it a sure bet that the only distinction that one could draw between Akin and Wagner would be helpful to her. Wagner has played a far more active role than Akin when it comes to gung-ho representation of corporate interests; one of her first legislative forays, for instance, was an effort to weaken the consumer protections provided by Dodd-Frank. Last July I wrote that:
Wagner has been promoted as a GOP anti-Akin although her views about many issues that made Todd Akin, well, Todd Akin are not too different. The real difference between Akin and Wagner may be their willingness to dance to the big money tune. There’s a reason that Ann Wagner can pull in the bucks, and an unwashed Tea Party favorite like Ed Martin can’t. I’m betting that a big part of her appeal hinges on her highly connected history within the Missouri and national Republican party – that is to say, the corporatist wing of the party, which we sometimes refer to as the Republican establishment. She may be able to polish up the fringewing base when necessary, but she quite clearly knows who’s polishing what as far as her political career goes. As a result, Wagner won’t miss a chance to signal that she’s going to do her best for the 1 percent who pay her campaign bills. Missouri now has a another GOPer camping out in what has been up until now exclusively Roy Blunt territory.
So who is it that Wagner fears offending? Tea Partiers who may figure out that she’s doing what she does for the benefit of the big-money boys rather than the unwashed out-state rabble waving their misunderstood copies of the Constitution? Women who believe that government has no place dictating their reproductive health choices? Folks who are tired of job-creation rhetoric accompanied by obstructionism that slows economic growth? Those who now have insurance thanks to the Obamacare that she still vilifies? We can only conjecture. What we do know is that when people try to hide something, it’s because they’ve got something to hide.