The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Marsha Blackburn, Steel Magnolia

Posted on | April 11, 2014 | 21 Comments

The suggestion that Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee might consider a 2016 Republican presidential campaign is encouraging. One does not wish to see the GOP play a “Me, Too” game of identity politics with the Democrats, yet conservatives must be realistic and practical in our approach to electoral marketing strategy. The reality is that Republicans have been stigmatized as the Party of Old Rich White Guys and the optics of politics in the TV age require that this stigma be visibly counteracted. It will not suffice merely for GOP officials to say they are diverse; seeing is believing, and Republicans must provide the public visual evidence of their claim to represent all Americans.

Republicans actually are more diverse than the “Old Rich White Guys” stereotype would suggest, and the presence of Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain in the 2012 GOP primary field helped demonstrate that. Neither Bachmann nor Cain were tokens. Both of them were strong conservative voices, popular with Tea Party activists, and each at one point led the entire primary field. Bachmann surged immediately after her June 2011 entry into the race and in August 2011 won the Iowa GOP straw poll. In the debates, Bachmann inflicted some of the most damaging blows against one-time frontrunner Texas Gov. Rick Perry. And when Perry’s campaign sagged, Cain surged ahead in polls on the basis of his business-minded arguments and his populist appeal.

Well, what about Marsha Blackburn? She’s one of the most powerful Republican women in the House and has for years shown her mastery of policy issues in media appearances. And let me warn anyone who cares to know, that lady is tough as a hell.

We were in Tampa for the Republican convention in 2012 and Blackburn was a VIP guest at Blog Bash. During the pre-event reception, about five or six of us New Media types were in sort of an informal circle around Blackburn when I got the crazy idea to ask her about a controversy that had occurred during a meeting of the RNC platform committee on which Blackburn served.

Bad idea.

Blackburn cut me a glance that froze my blood. Her hostility to my question was so evident that Ali Akbar, who was part of the group clustered around her, just walked away in horror at my faux pas.

Exactly what Blackburn said in answer to my question, I’ve forgotten, but the underlying message was clear: Don’t ever ask me a question like that again or I will be forced to destroy you.

It seems unlikely  that Blackburn would actually enter the 2012 GOP field. She’s got a solid position in the House now, and the odds are against her winning the nomination, simply because House members don’t have the kind of broad-based political machinery that a Senator or Governor can bring into a presidential campaign. On the other hand, a White House run would help raise her national profile, and could put her on the short list for the vice presidency or a Cabinet post in a future Republican administration.

Anyway, it’s encouraging to see Blackburn’s name mentioned for 2016 and, if she does run, political journalists should consider themselves warned: Don’t cross her. That lady’s tough as hell.



21 Responses to “Marsha Blackburn, Steel Magnolia”

  1. Rosalie
    April 11th, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

    If she was hostile towards someone who’s actually on her side, I don’t think she’s going to do very well with the media. She should save those looks for someone like Pelosi and Reid.

  2. robertstacymccain
    April 11th, 2014 @ 2:16 pm

    Well, she didn’t know who I was. I’d scarcely been introduced and the controversy at the platform committee meeting had been the subject of adverse publicity. It wasn’t something she wanted to talk about, and for me to ask that question — thinking like a journalist — during a reception at what was supposed to be a social event, was simply out of line. Of course, the offense was unintentional, but she took it as disrespectful, and I do not blame her for taking it that way.

  3. Anamika
    April 11th, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

    Hey, how about if Smitty and I run for president?

    Don’t you all think it’s time the U.S. had a philosopher-president? Where else are you going to find people who even have a vague chance of not being corrupted by power? The only problem seems to be who gets the vice presidential spot. We both want it. 🙂

    So, if you’re looking for,

    –a blend of democratic and republican (both of us),
    –commitment to being revolutionary when necessary (both of us),
    –caring and sensitivity with strength (Smitty),
    –intelligence (Smitty),
    –an ability to think outside the box of thinking outside the box (both of us),
    –Steel Magnolia diplomacy (Anamika),
    –and a plan for dealing with the insistently demanding, annoying, and dangerous toddlers of the world: distract them (Anamika),

    then . . .

    Vote for Us!

  4. David R. Graham
    April 11th, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

    So you received the Presbyterian stink eye. My ancestors saw that, too; before, during and after they were being hung, drawn and quartered.

  5. Ray Stickler
    April 11th, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    “It seems unlikely that Blackburn would actually enter the 2012 GOP field.” I agree with that statement. Wonder if she might try to enter the 2016 GOP field….

  6. William_Teach
    April 11th, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

    You actually bring up an interesting notion when your write “political journalists should consider themselves warned: Don’t cross her”. But, isn’t that what the medial should do, ask questions, including uncomfortable ones? Shouldn’t someone like Blackburn, along with all the other elected officials at all levels, be answerable to journalists and The People?

  7. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 11th, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

    I am guessing from that blog bash story she would get along with Mrs. The Other McCain famously.

  8. ThomasD
    April 11th, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

    I’ve seen her in person twice. She is razor sharp when the topic is well defined. When it is more of an open forum she comes off as trying a little too hard at being home spun and actually gets rather boring.

    She needs to lose that schtick and go with her true strengths if she’s going to step up to a national stage. Hilary can get away with that folksy crap only because the media is in her corner. Blackburn will get no such favors.

  9. ThomasD
    April 11th, 2014 @ 3:06 pm


  10. Howard Towt
    April 11th, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

    Stacy, keep in mind this is the lady that challenged Obama to a skeet shooting match…

  11. Quartermaster
    April 11th, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

    Based on what RSM posts, the question was legit and if she can’t be treat it as such, then she cedes ground on which the LSM could destroy her. It was stupid to act in the hostile fashion she did.

  12. Quartermaster
    April 11th, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

    She, however, was not at all gracious. That’s a very big black mark in my book.

  13. Marsha Blackburn 2016 Rule 5 | Batshit Crazy News
    April 11th, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

    […] TOM: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in 2016?  Crazy? Compared to what?  A 300 lbs New Jersey loudmouth? Going three times a charm with Mitt Romney?  Or how about Jeb? That she could freeze RSM’s blood with a glance just means she would probably get along famously with Mrs. The Other McCain.  The GOP could do way worse… Update: […]

  14. Earl Scruggs
    April 11th, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

    Representative runs for President. Does not end well.

    Elected executives only. Nikki Haley FTW. Bring your “fake woman” stuff on her.

  15. Bob Belvedere
    April 11th, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

    It does not make me comfortable with her, that’s for sure.

  16. Bob Belvedere
    April 11th, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

    Sarah Palin would have handled it much better.

  17. Bob Belvedere
    April 11th, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

    Sarah is the only one who we can trust.

  18. William_Teach
    April 11th, 2014 @ 8:24 pm


    Of course, we don’t actually know what question RSM asked…….(hint, hint, RS)

    She certainly wouldn’t want to project that attitude while on the campaign trail.

  19. SouthCentralPA
    April 11th, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

    2012 field??? Criminy Dutch, man, if she’s got a time machine, the lede is that’s she’s got a time machine!

  20. Eric Ashley
    April 11th, 2014 @ 9:37 pm

    GOPers should assume the media are the enemy, until proven otherwise.

  21. Rosalie
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:19 am

    No question that she would have.