With 99% of precincts reporting, Republican millionaire Greg Gianforte has won the special election for Montana’s single congressional seat, beating Democrat Rob Quist with 50.2 percent to Quist’s 44.1 percent of the vote. For whatever consolation value it may hold (very little), the election was closer than many Republicans had expected, and much closer than Donald Trump’s 20-point victory over Hillary Clinton in the state last fall. Yr Wonkette would also note that gerrymandering may have played a role, considering the district is drawn in such a way as to include a large majority of Republican voters:
Shapes like that just ain’t natural. Might be “contiguous,” but it sure as hell isn’t “compact.”
In his victory speech, Gianforte at least apologized for having body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, admitting that he had attacked Jacobs and apologizing to both Jacobs and the Fox News crew who witnessed the attack:
The crowd was in a more than forgiving mood; the Washington Post reports that when Gianforte said “I made a mistake,” a supporter in the crowd shouted “Not in our minds!” — it’s not audible in the AP video above, but the laughter following the remark is. Once Gianforte got to saying “I should not have responded in the way that I did, and for that I’m sorry,” a supporter shouted “And you’re forgiven,” which got much more applause than the actual apology.
Completely missing from Gianforte’s apology: any mention or retraction of his campaign’s lying press release, which said Jacobs had grabbed Gianforte by the wrist and pulled him down like a terrible trouble-making liberal.
So now we’ll have a brand-new member of Congress who’ll be sworn in while facing a misdemeanor assault charge. At least he promised not to assault any more reporters; we’re not sure whether his orientation to the House will include explicit warnings that reporters actually do stick microphones and recorders in politicians’ faces. It’s something he may have to get used to. Also, in case you were wondering, New York magazine lawsplains there’s nothing to prevent Gianforte from taking office. He may be morally unfit to serve, but legally, he’s in like anyone other than Flynn:
The Constitution says members of the House and Senate must meet three requirements:
- All members of the House must be at least 25 years old, and members of the Senate must be at least 30 years old.
- Members of the House must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and members of the Senate must have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years.
- They have to be an “inhabitant” of the state “when elected.”
Also, the piece continues,
Even if Gianforte receives the maximum penalty for misdemeanor assault in Montana, six months in jail, he could still continue serving in Congress. As factcheck.org explains, the Constitution does not say people convicted of crimes are barred from serving […]
Fun history trivia fact: Back in 1798, Matthew Lyon was actually elected to Congress while serving a four-month term for “libeling” President John Adams. Lyons won, and took his seat at the end of his prison sentence; the House mounted an unsuccessful effort to expel him; President Adams somehow managed not to grab Lyon by the neck, throw him to the ground, and punch him a few times.
Not surprisingly, the election is in some corners being seen as a referendum on the propriety of beating up members of the press, who really are asking for it by being all nosy and asking questions that aren’t polite, and sometimes even rude. Also, a whole bunch of people pointed out that in 2014 Jacobs himself had made a joke about punching an annoying 16-year-old at CPAC:
So clearly, actually assaulting reporters is justified now. They started it, after all. Great Pizzagate Journalist and walking conspiracy-theory factory Mike Cernovich — who has White House press credentials — had this well-thought-out justification of violence against reporters — or at least not condemning it, because the left is full of terrorists:
Then there are the big-league supporters of roughing up journos, like Rush Limbaugh, who on his Thursday show rhapsodized over what a studly manly stud Gianforte was, only he used irony, so it doesn’t count as an endorsement, haw haw:
I must join the chorus of people condemning what happened out there. This manly, obviously studly Republican candidate in Montana took the occasion to beat up a pajama-clad journalist, a Pajama Boy journalist out there … And the manly, studly Republican simply didn’t realize that on the big stage you can’t do this kind of stuff and kicked the guy’s ass to the ground. This cannot be accepted. This must be condemned.
Besides, noted the rape apologist and alleged Dominican rentboy aficionado, Jacobs had it coming, since he was an “average Millennial.” Also, have you noticed how the only people who say “studly” are guys who are not, but admire guys who they think are?
From a Christian perspective, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios said on her radio show Thursday that the whole thing sounded like mere playground antics, and figures Ben Jacobs instigated the whole thing just to get his name in the paper, since obviously a byline on a story about Gianforte’s thoughts on the AFCA’s CBO score simply wasn’t enough for the simpering publicity-hound:
“I’m sure Ben Jacobs is probably delighted about what he caused to happen,” Rios said, adding that Gianforte’s response was understandable given how “aggressive” and “rude” members of the press are.
“Do you have no rights at all to fight back?” she asked, reminiscing about old movies in which the men would constantly “get in fights with each other.”
“I remember when men used to actually settle things between themselves,” she said, “but now, in this culture, if you respond with any kind of anger, that’s a terrible thing.”
“Has something been lost in us becoming maybe over the line in terms of every touch, every glance, every attempt at settling a circumstance is punishable by law?” she wondered, saying the Gianforte/Jacobs altercation “all sounds very grade school playground-y, the kids that go, ‘He hit me.’ That’s what [Jacobs] sounded like to me.”
Besides, this is Jesus Bible America, and in Jesus Bible America, manly men shouldn’t have to put up with reporters whose newspapers have written unkind things about them. Since when did Jesus Bible America become a place where the police get called when there’s an assault?
“There is a natural anger that comes when someone invades your space and abuses their ability to do what it is they’re doing, they’ve gone across a line,” she continued, again lamenting that “we’ve lost some ability to settle things on our own by having this kind of girly-man response and this litigation and calling the police instead of just settling it.”
Boy, if Rios ever hears about that Jesus guy who didn’t even use a gun to mow down his enemies, she’s gonna be pissed at what a girly-man he was. What a wimp!
As of press time, Yr Wonkette has not yet learned whether Gianforte’s rightwing fans have condemned him for his cowardly apology to the sissy millennial journalist; presumably, once the new Montana representative is sworn in, he’ll be presented with a commemorative print of Preston Brooks beating Charles Sumner with a cane:
Or maybe not — Brooks was a Southern Democrat, and we know they’re all pro-slavery terrorists to this day, so the message might be a bit mixed.
But let us not lose hope about the state of the national political discourse, which, as the Brooks/Sumner incident illustrates, has sometimes included hotheaded morons (Brooks received witty gifts of canes for the rest of his life, haw-haw). If you want to feel a little better about things, consider this fine photo essay by Amanda Terkel, catching all sorts of politicians in the act of not assaulting journalists at all.
As for slammy-punchy Greg Gianforte, Rob Quist advisor and Montana Democratic consultant Matt McKenna has some thoughts about 2018:
“This is the first day of the end of Greg Gianforte’s political career,” McKenna said. “It may seem like he got away with this because so many people already voted, but they will deny him the prize he really wants which is the governor’s office. He could go to jail. He still has to be arraigned.”
If you find out Mr. McKenna has been getting death threats, please keep it to yourself.
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