The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) has released a brutal attack ad against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., in his primary challenge to appointed U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., in this year’s special election.
The ad hits Collins on some fair points in his voting record but also illustrates what’s so wrong with the Republican Party.
In writing this piece, I should be clear that I’m in no way a supporter of Rep. Collins, but I don’t have to be to call this attack out for what it is.
The GOP Views Conservatism as Equal to Support for Trump
Collins was one of the President’s chief defenders during the impeachment. Back in November, the President created quite a bit of controversy by leaning on Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to appoint Collins to the Senate instead of Loeffler.
Three months after this, the NRSC hits Collins as a “convenient conservative.” What’s the lead evidence for this allegation? The fact that Collins hasn’t always been supportive of Trump. The NRSC revealed that Collins endorsed Scott Walker in August of 2015 rather than seeing that the new Republican messiah had descended from the Trump Tower escalator two months before. Worse yet, they show a “damning” clip of Collins saying he doesn’t agree with everything the President says or does. Even though this was in the context of a statement expressing general support for the President, to the NRSC, the fact that Collins doesn’t view each act and statement from the President as above reproach should be proof he’s a fake conservative.
Collins wasn’t a #NeverTrumper, but because he supported another candidate in the primaries, the NRSC attacks him as insufficiently subservient to be a conservative. Never mind that 60% of Georgia Republicans voted for someone else in the 2016 primary, the measure of conservatism is how early you backed Trump. Of course, the earliest Congressional backers of Trump, Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Chris Collins, R-N.Y., have both been convicted of felonies and forced to resign from Congress in disgrace, so the supply of “true conservatives” is running low.
To be fair, Collins has pulled a similar stunt on Senator Loeffler, attacking her for donating to Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. Loeffler, like a Soviet apparatchik trying to please the new commissar and distance herself from her former ally, has denounced the 2012 Republican nominee.
The way this has played out in Georgia is illustrative of how the GOP has ceased being a party of ideas and is increasingly a cult of personality.
The GOP Views Civility and Decency as Weakness
Many primaries have been run on how supportive the candidates are of President Trump. If that were all this ad did, this article would not exist. The NRSC goes a step further. The ad attacks Collins for personal friendship with the former Georgia Senate Minority Leader and 2018 Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and House Impeachment Manager Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The ad also features a video of Collins shaking hands with President Obama.
The NRSC doesn’t accuse Collins of voting with Abrams, Jeffries, or Obama. His crime is having a personal friendship with people he politically disagrees with and showing civility to the then-President by shaking his hand at what appears to be a White House function.
While Collins was a savage opponent of impeachment, that’s not good enough for the NRSC and the electorate they’re trying to motivate to vote against him.
The NRSC argues that Doug Collins is unfit to the U.S. Senate because he’s not hateful to everyone he disagrees with 24/7 and can form a personal friendship with people he disagrees with. The idea at the core of this attack is an argument for incivility that pushes our country in a dangerous direction.
Not So Subtle Racial Overtones
This ad has an even uglier dimension. All three of the politicians Collins is attacked for fraternizing with are black. Given the gratuitous nature of the Obama clip, its obvious this was an intentional thrust by the NRSC to play to racist elements in the deep South. This is a textbook dog whistle. Don’t try and tell me they couldn’t find a clip of Collins having a friendly moment with a white Democrat. They chose the people they highlighted deliberately.
Now, the NRSC may feign innocence or ignorance, but given the racial games the Republicans have played over the last three years, I find such arguments to lack credibility.
The ad is a disgrace and shows what the GOP has become: a petty personality cult that views civility and decency as weakness and is willing to divide Americans for short-term political gain. This ad is exhibit A on why the GOP needs to be replaced with a party that stands for actual conservative principles.