is an old joke in politics.
It goes like this:
Two campers hike into the back-country.
They get to their campsite late and turn in
after dark. In
the morning, the first camper is up early.
As soon as he’s out of the tent, he spots a
huge grizzly bear moving down the trail, headed
straight for the campsite.
He screams at his friend, “A grizzly bear
is coming! The
second camper peeps out of the tent, verifies that
fact, and calmly proceeds to lace up his running
first camper screams at him, “You damn fool, you
can’t out run a grizzly bear!”
The second camper levels a calm and steady
gaze at him and says, “I don’t have to out run
the bear. I
just have to out run you.”
Potts is calmly lacing up his running shoes.
Republicans don’t know exactly what to do.
Strike that. Some
Virginia Republicans don’t know what to do.
Members of the flat earth wing of the
party—those on the far right, those who insist
that you can build roads without money, who profess
disdain for “big government” but grow it every
chance they get, those who want government “off
our backs” but want the government peeping into
our bedroom windows and looking over our shoulders
whenever we’re in our libraries, those who don’t
mind mixing government and religion, so long as it
is the right religion, those who prefer “borrow
and spend” to “tax and spend”—those
Republicans don’t know exactly what to do with
Russ Potts. Others,
the solid center moderates, already are beginning to
can that be? How
is it possible that he’s already toe-to-toe in
media coverage, toe-to-toe in the political coin
that means the most, in “legitimacy,” with Jerry
Kilgore, the GOP’s Six Million Dollar Man?
answer is easy. Russ
Potts is in a game that he understands.
Potts announced as an independent candidate for
governor the flat-earthers did exactly the dumbest
thing they could do if their intentions were to stop
than ignore him, they fired up their propaganda
machine and went after him tooth and high decibel
claw—they held news conferences and issued press
releases and generally threw temper tantrums in
public—and in the process gave him the kind of
free media coverage that money can’t buy.
the four-term senator from Virginia’s 27th
Senate District, this man who exudes the small-town
directness and earnestness of an Andy Griffith
re-run, must have smiled to himself, contemplating
the headlines, when his Republican colleagues
demanded that he give up his committee posts in the
whip me harder,” he must have thought, gleefully. “Whip
me harder. Let
them see the way you’ve bloodied me.”
this member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, who
has made his living as a sports promoter, who has
made his living by understanding what the term
“underdog” means, and how to hype it, how to
leverage it, must have smiled to himself when the
imperial highness of Virginia Republican politics,
Kate Griffin, the state party chairman, cast him as
the ultimate underdog.
he must have sent up a silent prayer, “Keep it up,
keep it up,” when the right wing’s blogger goons
went after him for days on end.
“Please, Lord, let them keep flinging me
into that briar patch,” he must have said.
guess what? They’re
still at it! Prayer
does work sometimes, you know.
who would stop Potts, this level-headed, “fraid
o’ nothin'” centrist, have blundered badly.
They have let themselves be drawn into a game
that he understands. They’re
on his field now, and he’s calmly lacing up his
March 14, 2005