I had a kindergarten teacher who read the story of Clifford to the class. When talking about the story, she would always say, “Clifford, the BIG RED DOG.” It was as if she were physically incapable of saying the name Clifford without immediately following it with the modifier “BIG RED DOG.” Even at age five, I found it quite irritating. I didn’t understand her compulsive need to tell us over and over again something we all already knew.
In the same way, it seems that Missouri Senate Candidate John Brunner has a pathological need to remind people that he is “not a career politician” every time he opens his mouth. Anyone who lives in Missouri and even vaguely follows state and national politics is well aware that Mr. Brunner has never held public office. To some, that is one of his most attractive qualities. But having taken an interest in this particular campaign, I have found that in his race no one on the trail has acted more like a career politician (despite his factual claim to the contrary) than John Brunner.
For a few primary debates and appearances, Brunner was the only one of the three major primary candidates who hired a professional stylist and makeup artist. His speech patterns have even changed since his first radio ads ran months ago, moving from a rural Missourah feel to a more polished presentation. (Although whoever Brunner’s handlers are may want to note that in his most recent ad he did say “exspecially,” so obviously there is still some work to be done…)
Several months ago, his Democrat opponent, sitting MO Senator Claire McCaskill, attacked a St. Louis Tea Party activist with a twisted and factually inaccurate narrative. Within hours of the story breaking, Brunner’s campaign had jumped into the fray, siding with McCaskill.
When it was uncovered that Brunner’s company, Vi-Jonn, had failed to pay property taxes on a privately owned aircraft (which, ironically, is exactly what Senator McCaskill has been in hot water over), the Brunner campaign swiftly blamed an accountant for failing to file the proper paperwork. While that is completely understandable and the taxes and penalties were paid, Brunner’s response to questions asked on the Dave Glover Show were quite telling. “It’s regrettable, but I’m not attacking anyone about taxes. That’s not what’s important to Missourians. Jobs are what’s important.” Or, in simpler terms, “What I did isn’t important because it was someone else’s fault and I want to change the subject.”
In Brunner’s most recent ad, besides the grammatically disturbing “expecially,” he has referred to opponent Claire McCaskill as “the deciding vote” in the passage of Obamacare. It is true that she voted for the abomination. It is also true that if she had not voted for Obamacare, a Republican filibuster would have been a near certainty. However, to call Senator McCaskill “the” deciding vote is at best disingenuous, and here’s why: McCaskill’s vote was never in question. In 2010, according to a CongressionalQuarterly analysis, Claire McCaskill voted with President Obama (even when it meant going against party) 98% of the time. To suggest that there was a possibility that she would have voted against Obamacare is nearing ludicrous. In addition, any one of the sixty senators who voted for Obamacare (some of whom were far more likely to flip) could have been considered the deciding vote in terms of preventing the filibuster.
So despite the fact that Brunner truthfully claims that he is not a “career politician,” it is clear that he absolutely is a politican. And it is also clear that he is not above misdirection, siding with progressives, and embellishing the truth in order to become a career politician.