Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 | 2:01 a.m.
“Sharron Angle produced one of the most successful single quarters of fundraising in the nation’s history for a U.S. Senate campaign. This is a testament to the hatred of Harry Reid, the nation’s disapproval of President Obama, and the unprecedented grass-roots support for Sharron Angle. Harry Reid is losing this race, he knows it, and he is just going to get more desperate over the final three weeks.”
— Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen after reporting GOP Senate nominee had raised $14 million in the third quarter
What’s hate got to do with it?
Everything. Or just enough.
Even though it has been the leitmotif of the Nevada Senate race, even though it is the undercurrent that has electrified the GOP, even though it is the reason Republicans still have hope here after nominating a verbally flawed candidate, it was still jarring to see the word used in a news release.
I’ve read plenty of such missives over the years that have vicious language and stinging adjectives. Indeed, the Reid campaign has called Angle “crazy” and said she has “lost her mind.” But “hatred” is such an awful word — a word I forbid my daughter to use — and yet it sums up exactly why the Senate majority leader may lose to a woman who just last week talked of Sharia law existing in cities in Michigan and Texas.
It’s hatred that has brought this Senate race, with three days until voting begins, to a place where Angle can win. It is hatred that brought her that $14 million haul. And it is hatred that courses through the American electorate, bringing venomous and vitriolic assaults upon anyone who dares to suggest Obama-Reid-Pelosi is not a three-headed monster.
Angle has all but done what she promised to do when she advertised her campaign on conservative talk shows and Fox — “Harry Reid has said he will raise $25 million in this race. I need 1 million people to send $25.”
And you know what: She did it. Or essentially she did.
An incredible 161,358 people sent her checks of $200 or less. Her average donation is $90, Agen says.
This is real, unparalleled (except, perhaps, for Barack Obama in 2008) grass roots. And there is a wildfire blazing through the grass roots, with burning hatred for Reid animating Angle’s chances.
Of those small contributors, my guess is only a handful of the 161,358 people know much about Angle. They have no idea about her religious fervor, fail to separate her church (which apparently doesn’t like Mormons) from our state, or her multifarious positions on Social Security and Medicare, her sympathy for “Second Amendment remedies” or her latest incendiary comments about Dearborn, Mich., and nonexistent Frankford, Texas, implying “the Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming.”
But they don’t need to know much about Sharron Angle. They know enough about Harry Reid — Obamacare, bailouts, stimulus, good old boy (emphasis on “old”) and part of a corrupt Congress that has bankrupted this country and led it down the inevitable path to socialism.
I think I got most of the message points. Set the kindling, pour on some gasoline, light the fire and poof: You have $14 million, half of it last month.
Almost every national reporter, as I have said before, wants to know why people “hate” Harry Reid. I always say the same thing: 40 years in politics, familiarity breeds contempt, terrible retail pol, bizarre statements, face of unpopular Democratic agenda. But there’s more to it, as I realized after the $14 million revelation. As a headline on New York magazine’s blog said: “Sharron Angle’s Cash Haul Says Something About America’s State of Mind.”
Team Reid has understood this mental state for a while, which is why it has adopted a scorched-earth policy of its own, determined that if their guy is all but in ashes they have to take the blowtorch to Angle. And have they ever, executing one of the most relentless, laserlike assaults in campaign history, turning Angle from the darling of the Tea Party on June 8 to the butt of national jokes as the election nears.
And so we go to the finish line, with the pair matching each other gaffe for gaffe — Reid answered a question recently about who he thought was the greatest living American by naming two dead senators, Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy.
But Reid’s serpentine rhetorical peregrinations seem addled; Angle’s seem dangerous. So do we want the dotty guy or the crazy woman?
Or, to use that word I don’t let my daughter say: Who do you hate least?