And This Didn’t Sound Crazy Because, What?

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

As you can see, the story of “Constitutional Clayton” Kelly and his break-in at a nursing home where Sen. Thad Cochran’s ailing wife lives got a lot more complicated today. No fewer than three additional people – one a board member of the area Tea Party group – have been charged as co-conspirators in Kelly’s crime. You can find some imbecile who thinks it’s a good idea to do almost anything. It’s a little harder to imagine how you get four grown men, all apparently sane, to think something so crazy was going to be a good idea. But a number of you have asked me: Quite apart from the morality of it, just how did they think this was a good idea? What were they even trying to accomplish?

So, let me strap on my night-vision crazy goggles and join me after the jump for an explanation.

First, a decent part of the explanation is this is Mississippi. Shit’s just kind of crazy down there. Think about it: last year a dingbat feud between a sometimes troubled Elvis impersonator and a bluesman-cum-taekwondo instructor/failed political candidate ended up with ricin being sent to the President of the United States.

But more to the specifics, this is my understanding of the story.

Whether or not McDaniel had any role in this, his campaign has clearly been sending out a lot of opposition research in the last couple weeks trying to portray Cochran as someone who doesn’t really live in Mississippi any more and might be carrying on a relationship with a longtime member of his staff. No evidence at all has surfaced for the latter charge. But it was clearly the subtext of this story that appeared earlier this month at

So, as near as I can figure it, the effort to photograph or video Mrs. Cochran was part of building or putting an exclamation point after this narrative about Cochran, which very much was coming out of the McDaniel campaign. And that’s of an out of touch Senator who’s not only abandoned his home state but more cuttingly abandoned his wife.

Showing Cochran’s wife – who is undoubtedly in a pitiable and probably hard to see condition – was meant to drive home the emotional impact of this portrayal of Sen. Cochran.

Now, it’s hard to figure how anyone wouldn’t realize that invading the privacy and dignity of this woman wouldn’t backfire in an explosive way or that it constituted one or more serious felonies. But remember, we’re pretty deep in the Tea Party derp bubble here which involves what can only be called a proctological route to self-awareness which ends in confusion and can be irreversible. But if you’d really bought into this attack on Cochran and thought it would resonate with people you can see at least the bare outlines of how you could convince yourself that this visual would land the fatal blow to his credibility and campaign.

As I said, the whole thing was easier to understand if it was just the work of one kind of whacked guy who went off the deep end in his desire to help his candidate. The idea that multiple people were involved and someone didn’t say, “Hey, this is f’ing crazy. I think we need to rethink this” is a question that very much still needs to be answered.

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: