West Virginia is this fine nation’s most maligned state. The place has been positively pummeled by hard times—and bayoneted by cultural stereotypes.
Many Americans, and certainly many of Hillary Clinton’s Americans, don’t give the ‘Mountain State’ much of a chance.
Cockburn prefers West Virginia’s older moniker: the illegal state; the outlaw state. Lost to collective memory is why the state was even formed: in rebellion against chattel slavery and a savage war to preserve it.
The stakes now are less dire — but at a time when Kanye Omari West seems to be ripping open the cultural-space-time-continuum, let us propose his spiritual comrade in burning it all down: Don Blankenship.
His likely risible, but debated, role in the neglectful deaths of miners at the outset of this decade should not be forgotten.
But Blankenship is surging in the polls in the closing hours of the West Virginia Senate primary. His peers are giving him a chance.
An unelected, seemingly shameless fourth branch of government is conspiring to end this presidency.
Donald Trump may not know it, but an ally like Blankenship in the Senate could be just the blunt instrument he needs to preserve his tenure: he should bring a machete to the knife-fight in Washington.
“This is all Mitch McConnell’s fault,” a source familiar with the matter tells Cockburn.
Indeed, the primary is plainly a fiasco.
For the uninitiated: Blankenship recently released an extraordinary advert calling the majority leader of the United States Senate, a fellow Republican, ‘Cocaine Mitch,’ a reference to the conspiracy theory McConnell’s family has tangential ties to the drug business.
He went further, in perhaps some, well, ill-advised language… Blankenship inveighed against ‘China persons’ and ‘China people.’ He has recycled the phrase since, and seems clearly keen on it.
Don Blankenship doubles down on phrases like "China people" and "Cocaine Mitch" in new ad that also features his undeniable charisma and charm pic.twitter.com/eiv9WUADjz
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) May 3, 2018
Blankenship’s allegations are that Mitch’s father-in-law, the sire of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is mobbed up with the Chinese Communist Party, something Cockburn can neither confirm nor deny.
But are Blankenship’s concerns so outlandish? News continues to break about Chao and her father’s ethical scandals.
One conspiracy is for sure: McConnell wants Blankenship gone, and fast. At the behest of the (imperiled) majority leader, the president tweeted against Blankenship on Monday morning.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
But this anti-endorsement was equivocal: Trump didn’t say to vote against Blankenship for any ethical or political reasons—he merely believes, or has been led to believe, he can’t win.
The president should shirk such advice. Remember when top Hillary Clinton brass preferred Trump to Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush in the general election? Fun times.
“The President is a very busy man and he doesn’t know me, and he doesn’t know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary. Tomorrow, West Virginia will send the swamp a message—no one, and I mean no one, will tell us how to vote. As some have said, I am Trumpier than Trump and this morning proves it,” Blankenship posted to his Facebook page, in response.
A longtime opponent of McConnell tells Cockburn, on Blankenship: “Love that brother.”
2018 is only in its fifth month. But for a year that started with fire and fury, perhaps no one embodies the cultural id better than Don Blankenship. Once he secures victory tomorrow, the president should re-embrace the hyperrealism that gave him the White House.
“So the veil is lifted and the GOP establishment’s bluff is called, everyone all around is exposed as a hack except those with the foresight to max out on Trump YES on PredictIt immediately after the Iowa caucus,” writer Michael Crumplar aptly volunteered in the spring of 2016.
We’re here again, in a perhaps even wackier cultural moment.