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Tilting at Windmills

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February 12, 2010

TEXAS' FUNKY COLD MEDINA.... One of the nation's most fascinating primary contest is Texas' Republican gubernatorial primary. What was once a contest of two heavyweights has turned into a bizarre three-way affair.

Incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, who's still the frontrunner, has been going up against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in a fairly heated confrontation. But recently, Tea Party activist Debra Medina, a nurse and political neophyte, has been coming on strong, gathering support with the right-wing fringe (which isn't a small number when we're talking about Texas GOP primary voters).

Medina's momentum hit a speed-bump yesterday.

Fox News pundit Glenn Beck threw a wrench into Debra Medina's Texas gubernatorial campaign Thursday when he asked her about her opinion on whether the 9/11 terrorist attack was an inside job. [...]

Beck asked her, "Do you believe the government was any way involved with the bringing down of the World Trade Centers on 9/11?"

"I don't, I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn," Medina said. "So I don't, I'm not in a place, I have not been out publicly questioning that. I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard. There are some very good arguments, and I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there. So I've not taken a position on that."

Later in the interview, Medina tried to clarify her remarks, first saying that she wasn't going to take a position on the issue, then saying, "These questions have been raised and they are not answered."

After the radio interview, Beck told listeners, "I think I can write her off the list."

Like Adam Serwer, I can't help but find this rather amusing -- Glenn Beck thinks one of his like-minded allies is nuts for lending credence to a bizarre conspiracy theory. As Adam explained, "That's a lot of crazy theories without any evidence to believe. So you can hardly blame tea-party folks if they get confused about which evidence-free conspiracy theories are OK, which ones you have to believe to be taken seriously as a member of the movement, and which evidence-free conspiracy theories might get you disavowed. It's confusing!"

For Medina, it's apparently very confusing. She recently told Alex Jones that she agreed that there's "Soviet brainwashing" in the Texas police. Medina also expressed outrage that Texas hasn't nullified federal laws (a.k.a., secession lite). And, of course, she's a Birther.

This is interesting in a campaign context -- whether Medina's radical ideas help her chances or hurt remains to be seen -- but it's also a reminder about that the Tea Party crowd can be genuinely fanatical. Some like to characterize these folks as mainstream Americans, with reasonable concerns about taxes and deficits. That may describe some of the "movement," but there's also a sizable extremist contingent.

As Dave Weigel explained, "I think because the mainstream media were slow to cover the Tea Parties as anything but a ridiculous joke, there's been a lot of overcompensating that imbues these activists with fresh, bold, out-of-nowhere political tactics. But that the fact is that some people on the political fringes have made lateral moves from Alex Jones-listening or Obama birth certificate-sleuthing or Bilderberg-obsessing into the Tea Party Movement. And if Glenn Beck hadn't decided to see how far Medina wanted to go with this, she'd be on track to get into a gubernatorial run-off."

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Glenn Beck has hurt himself in this one....Despicable behavior on his part....A true AMBUSH on Medina....I'm with Medina and TRUTH....Peace....Roger

Posted by: Roger on February 12, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

She's playing at a level that's a long, long way from Wharton County. And showing she's not prepared to handle the spotlight.

Her winning the primary would hasten the blue-ification of Texas.

Posted by: TonyB on February 12, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing wrong with Medina as far as Beck in concerned is that her conspriracy theory would include GOP involvement. Beck is not a true tea partier; he wants, as Palin does, to usurp the movement in the name of the GOP.

I think Weigel may be overstating the idea that this hurts Medina in the primary. The movement is pretty quick to throw Palin overboard; why not Beck as well?

Posted by: howie on February 12, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

One should not underestimate the wackiness of the Texas GOP. They've been simmering in their own juices for many years with no one saying "Hey, wait a minute-- isn't that a little... peculiar?" I wouldn't be surprised if the Beck-Medina exchange works out to Medina's benefit.

Posted by: MattF on February 12, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Beck on Medina is the pot calling the pot pot...

Where the hell did she get the name "Medina"?
Huh? huh? huh?
And don't be tellin' me she's originally from Arab, Alabama...

Posted by: neill on February 12, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn surely wrote her off because she didn't espouse enthusiastic support for wild conspiracy theories, but rather only a passing indifference.

Posted by: doubtful on February 12, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with howard and MattF above -- why on Earth does Beck think that her apparent belief in another stupid, paranoid fantasy will cause her supporters to turn on her? They probably believe the same thing.

Posted by: Jay B. on February 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

As a Texas D who vote in the open primary, I am pulling the lever (actually touching the screen) for Ms. Medina. I am hoping for an absolutely brutal run off between Perry and Hutchison. Chris White or even Farouk Shahmi will look like saints after the GOP is done.

Posted by: Ken Z on February 12, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Should be an interesting primary - between the utterly batshit crazy, the astonishingly fantastically certifiably borderline insane batshit crazy, and the psychotic.

Posted by: Basilisc on February 12, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

What's amusing to me is that Glenn Beck has acquired the stature whereby he has the power of aye or nay in such matters. I remember when he was a carefully (for the most part) conservative commentator on CNN, but still so loosely tethered to the real world that the commencement of his segment was usually a good reason to go fix a snack or do some household work. After he left CNN - itself not a particularly credible network in spite of its claims - he went so full-blown crazy that I'm regularly surprised not to see him in some kind of restraints.

Another example of "only in America". Usually that cliche is used to register a positive value. In this case, not so much.

Posted by: Mark on February 12, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Another frightening aspect is that this woman is a nurse and she apparently doesn't believe in facts. On what basis then does she practice her profession?

Posted by: gelfling545 on February 12, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

A Truther/Birther - she's got the spectrum of government hate covered! Someone should ask her about the recent legislative move by the Virginia House of Delegates! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 12, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ken Z...make sure you vote for BILL White for guvna (name recognition, name recognition, name recognition - Bill's main hurdle).

Posted by: whichwitch on February 12, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

All we need is for Medina to stay in the race and siphon off a big chunk of Perry's base: the Secessionists. I'd prefer the state to go Blue---but Hutch over Perry would at least be a bit of an improvement. It might even be easier to get the ReThugs to split in the general over Hutchinson and a third-party candidate, thereby giving the Lone Star Quagmire to the Dems.

Posted by: S. Waybright on February 12, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

HUGE HINT for all concerned: What Beck did was EXACTLY the way to handle politicians getting teabagger support (like Bachmann, for instance).

Just get 'em on TV, in an open +/or widely watched forum, and ask 'em direct questions about what they believe. Standard teabagger canon is sooo far out there (trutherism is tame compared to most TB beliefs -- like for instance that Koresh and McVeigh were heroes) that none will dare parrot their usual behind-closed-doors teabagger nonsense. And among the TB crowd, unwillingness to "speak the truth in public" is a cardinal, unforgivable sin.

If clowns like Bachmann want to bait the ignorant and mentally ill, make 'em do it in public.

Posted by: mars on February 12, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

As mentioned above, if the NYC terrorist attacks had happened under a Democratic president would remaining agnostic on a "false-flag hypothesis" be an automatic disqualifier?

Posted by: flubber on February 12, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

i don't find it confusing at all.
the conspiracy theories which promote their warped and racist version of patriotism can stand. the one which make claims on president bush's government and are thus "anti-american" cannot.
end of story.

Posted by: invisible_hand on February 12, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Houston, there's nothing "mainstream" America about these folks. We laugh at them as much outsiders do - but at the same time we're embarrassed that the picture painted by these crackpots is that of toothless guntotin' bible thumpin' morons. No, the people here in Houston seem quite sane and rational. Please don't paint us all with the same brush.

Posted by: Jilli on February 12, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Ms Medina just got a little confused about who was president during 9-11, what with people like Rudy Guliani and others implying that Bush wasn't in office then. Because, you know, if Clinton or Obama Hussein Bin Laden HAD been president during the attacks, then of course it would be perfectly OK to espouse Truther conspiracy theories. Glenn himself would be spewing forth nightly on the topic. In fact, it would be a prerequisite for any teabagger to believe such stuff.

It's so hard for a non-elitist teabagger type to keep all the propaganda straight these days.

Posted by: gypsy howell on February 12, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

But Beck doesn't despise 9/11 conspiracy theory because he is a bit sane, he despises it only because it reflects poorly on Republican President and Christianist/Upper-Class hero George W Bush. Same reason Medina would have trouble with Rebaglickin primary voters. If 9/11 had happened on Gore's watch, professing that our government pulled off 9/11 would be a litmus test for getting elected Republican.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 12, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

And Rick was so looking forward to a three-way.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on February 12, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Pity about her remarks. Medina stands in the best position to cut off Rick Perry's flank by stealing hard-right wingnuts from his reliable constituency of voters. The longer Medina remains viable, the better the chances for Kay Bailey Hutchison to take the primary.

Posted by: Kate on February 12, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

So you're congratulating cryin' Glenn Beck for "outing" Debra Medina? The same Glenn Beck who has been promoting the works of one W. Cleon Skousen, the Mormon conspiracy theorist and John Bircher? The same Glenn Beck who has been promoting such notions about Obama's one world government and death panels along with Sarah Palin that's done much to derail health care reform.

Gee, I wasn't aware Beck was on your payroll.

And of course, Gov. Perry advocates secession, but I guess that's less controversial than being a...(Gasp!) Truther!

Beck of course, is one to refer to himself as "rodeo clown" but he knows which side his bread his buttered on, the establishment which put his shows on the airwaves. Medina became a threat so it was time to put the hammer down on her by asking a question that has absolutely nothing to do with the Texas governor's race in order to get a response to smear her, and you're celebrating him for carrying out his mission.

And being a Mormon, I hear there are a lot funny things Beck believes in too. Are you hiding the Magic Underware theory from your readers just so you can call Debra Medina crazy?

All Medina said was there was were still unanswered questions about 9-11? What's so controversial about that? She doesn't deny and has never denied Muslims actually carried out the deed.

Although it's funny, given how much anti-government Beck says he he is, why wouldn't he believe such a conspiracy?

Oh, I forgot...the neocons who run Fox wouldn't let him on the air again. Silly me.

But given your Obama advocacy, it's not surprising you Beck would hand and hand to keep those "crazies" down.

I'm starting to see why so many lefty bloggers feel this site is basically being run out of the West Wing. You're two sides of the same coin whether you want to admit or not, you and Glenn Beck together.

The New Centrists, and of course, the center must hold, musten it? You and Glenn can agree on that?"

Posted by: Sean Scallon on February 12, 2010 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm looking for a coherent argument in that badly-spelled piece of pretzel logic, but I'm afraid it's not immediately evident. Maybe you tried to cover too many things that upset you all at once.

Posted by: Mark on February 12, 2010 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK
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