What’s In That Clown Car? Not Clowns, Surely!

It always seems that on every election day there’s some sort of weird last-second story pushed out into the world for the purpose of swaying the latest of “deciders.” Two popped up today. One is a very confusing down-the-rabbit-hole Daily Caller “story” accusing Jeanne Shaheen of “conspiring” with White House and Treasury folk to promote the non-existent IRS scandal. I don’t know who it’s aimed at, unless it’s wingnuts too paranoid to come out of their heavily armed fortresses, urging them to vote so that the IRS doesn’t send in the troops with notices that their 501(c)(4) application has not been acted upon yet (oh, the totalitarian horror of it all!).

Then there’s a more accessible but equally puzzling incident out of Kansas, per this report from WaPo’s Robert Costa:

Independent Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman sent a 256-word e-mail to former Senate majority leader Bob Dole last Friday, denying that he referred to the Republican luminary as a “clown” last week.

“I want to assure you that this is not true and is not my opinion of you in any way, shape or form,” Orman wrote. “My reference to a ‘clown car’ was commenting on the near-endless number of political supporters of Senator [Pat] Roberts who have piled out of Washington to support him, none of whom I think are clowns. I certainly wasn’t calling you – or any of the others supporting Senator Roberts – a ‘clown.’”

Speaking earlier last Friday, Orman derided the stream of GOP surrogates who have come to Kansas to boost Sen. Pat Roberts (R), a three-term incumbent. Political visitors have included Mitt Romney, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “It sort of seems like a Washington establishment clown car to me. Every day a new person comes out of that car,” Orman said.

So Bob Dole doesn’t like it when it’s implied that Bob Dole is a clown. Meanwhile Orman shows a bit of his highly developed centrist instincts by suggesting that it’s not “clowns” who emerge hilariously from “clown cars.”

Again, I don’t know who’s supposed to be influenced by this kerfuffle, unless the Orman-Roberts race is so close that voters falsely accused of being clowns are a key swing demographic.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.