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December 15, 2017

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jon ralston:

Angle shows (again) how politics can reward failure

Let’s say you are the marquee player for a franchise — a walk-on who defeated the anointed favorite. You have a great season, you are pitted in the Super Bowl against a once-great team, seen as ravaged by age and haplessness. You become the leader of America’s Team, the one people support against the corrupt, established organization.

And then you blow it.

You match the mistake-prone quarterback of the other team in ineptitude and do him many unforced errors better, tossing interception after interception, throwing away the game and even giving some of your die-hard fans buyer’s remorse.

So what do you do after the obloquy rains down, after your performance is scathingly criticized, left and right, after it’s clear you were meant for a lesser stage?

A. Go to Disneyland

B. Move to Alaska to star in a TLC reality show called “Mama Grizzly Lite”

C. Shrink into oblivion

D. Seek the spotlight again, fronting for the same team under a new name

If you chose D, your name must be Sharron Angle.

Angle announced this week on her Facebook page that she is fronting a new Tea Party organization called the Patriot Caucus to help organize for the 2012 campaign, electing conservatives and, of course, defeating President Barack Obama.

“The tea party movement stood with me through a hard fought race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,” Angle said on the site (thepatriotcaucus.net). “It’s time for me to give back and help our movement take the fight against big government to a new level. Please join the Patriot Caucus and be prepared to engage in a nationwide action campaign aimed at winning in 2012 and beyond!”

Winning?

Not to mix sports metaphors, but whatever happened to three strikes and you’re out? I thought conservatives were tough on crime.

2006 — Primary against Dean Heller for Congress. Strike One.

2008 — Primary against Bill Raggio for state Senate. Strike Two.

2010 — General against Reid. Strike Three.

Forget whether this is a prelude to Angle being on the ballot in 2012, although I have no doubt she will — as the state’s resident Energizer Bunny, she keeps running and running and running. But this was not a nice-try-pat-on-the-back-better-luck-next-game loss. This is an if-anyone-but-you-had-led-the-team-we-would-have-won loss.

Angle lost by a substantial margin — almost 6 percentage points — after being hailed as a guaranteed victor for months. Granted, Reid’s campaign was nearly flawless. But hers was, to coin a word, flawfull — an otherworldly concoction of see no Hispanics, hear no Hispanics, speak to no Hispanics (unless they look Asian), combined with Sharron Get Your Second Amendment Remedies, combined with Sharia Law comes to phantom Texas town, combined with Take Your Job, Social Security and Medicare and Shove It. And so on. There’s not enough room here for all of the greatest hits.

Failure is almost always punished in real sports; in the shameless sport of politics, it is often no impediment. Just ask Angle, who will win some of those end-of-year awards for worst candidate of 2010. She is simply following other high-profile losers such as newly minted millionaire and possible White House hopeful Sarah Palin, who showed that John McCain put Country Last before helping him lose, and newly elected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who bowed in rather than out after presiding after the House Democrats’ disaster.

What is it exactly that Angle, whom some Republicans didn’t vote for and whom many would like to kill for allowing Reid to escape certain death, brings to this new Tea Party? She is not exactly a protean pol who can change who she is or erase who she was in 2010. And it’s not as if she has decided to recede for a while, regroup and, perhaps, try to find something she is good at.

Republican National Committeeman Bob List insisted this week on “Face to Face” that Angle could stay in the background and be an effective organizer. (I could almost hear his silent prayer.)

But what does she have? That enormous direct mail list that helped her raise an astonishing $14 million in the third quarter against Reid.

Yes, against Reid. Not for her.

And how do you think those donors feel now? Ready to pony up again? I don’t think so.

The thin Patriot Caucus site declares that the group “will begin setting up offices in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada in early 2011.” How thrilled the Democrats must be to know that Tea Party litmus tests will be applied in those early states, thus increasing the chances of a Palinesque GOP White House nominee.

The Patriot Caucus page announces to the world what the world needs to know about Sharron Angle: “She’s back.”

Just what the Republicans — here and nationally — were afraid of.

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