The Sunny Side of the Wingnut LARPer of FL-3

Knowing very nearly nothing about the world of Live Action Role Playing (LARP), I have given the story of Florida Republican congressional candidate Jake Rush a wide berth, figuring Dave Weigel’s succinct summary earlier this week said all that really mattered:

This was an unusually difficult April Fools’ Day for Jake Rush. In the morning, reporter Peter Schorsch published comprehensive evidence that Rush, who’d announced a primary challenge to Rep. Ted Yoho just one week earlier, was a bona fide LARPer. Without wanting to rip off the fine reporting of Schorsch or of Hunter Walker—and without being able to access online discussions that have been deleted to spare Rush yet more embarrassment—I might suggest that the rescued messages about a Rush character sporting a “rape face” or fantasizing about snorting a line off a machete while receiving fellatio pose obvious problems for a conservative candidate.

Yeah, that seems a reasonable conclusion. But hey, I try to be fair-minded, so for the record here’s an excerpt from an excerpt from the partial defense of Rush by WaPo’s excellent new popular culture writer Alyssa Rosenberg:

Nerd-bashing and spotting political hypocrisy are both well-established traditions that magnify each other in this story. I understand how irresistible it is to try to pick at seeming contradictions in the life of a guy who posts pictures of himself with his newborn on his campaign Web site while popping in black contacts and writing laughably incoherent threats to fellow role-players in his off hours. But in the interest of geeky solidarity, let me mount a brief defense of Jake Rush and his hobbies.

As my colleague Alexandra Petri has pointed out, political consultant Peter Schorsch, who went digging for details on the Mind’s Eye Society, is stretching as far as he possibly can to suggest that Rush is palling around with dog-menacers and book burners. Never mind that no evidence exists that Rush’s activities were anything other than fantasy. And as fantasy, there is not actually much contradiction between Rush’s stated policy positions and the games he’s playing.

I guess this is the political equivalent of an insanity defense.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.