Listen to this.
If you still doubt that Eric Greitens is a threat to anyone he deems an enemy, and potentially even to himself, then you may also believe O.J. Simpson spends his days searching for the real killers.
And yet recent polling in the wake of the latest revelations – a sworn statement from his ex-wife detailing physical abuse alongside a torrent of verbal abuse and coercion – indicates that the majority of Republican primary voters a) are aware of the allegations and b) do not find them immediately disqualifying.
Several national journalists asked me if Greitens would drop out following the recent news.
Never, I replied.
“Why not? Sean Parnell did,” one noted, referencing a Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania candidate who dropped out of that state’s U.S. Senate race after a judge stripped custody of his children in a court battle.
First of all, regardless of how outside observers may perceive the latest round of allegations, it may not move many primary voters.
As a perceptive Republican legislator suggested to me, no amount of media coverage of the above incidents move primary voters because they are skeptical of all mainstream media pronouncements. It’s “just another Jussie Smollett-style hoax,” many are conditioned to think, with the media “targeting yet another Republican.”
An increasingly fragmented media environment allows people to create a “filter bubble,” whereby viewers and listeners filter out news from any outlet with whose views they tend to disagree.
In layman’s terms, having 3,000 channels instead of three allows us to hear only what we want to hear. And so most Greitens backers will either never hear of the most recent set of allegations, or only hear of them as filtered through Greitens’s rebuttal or the skepticism of friendly media figures like Steve Bannon or Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft.
Moreover, key Republican opinion shapers have sent mixed messages from the start.
Instead of uniting in condemnation of Greitens — who with each new disclosure increasingly jeopardizes Republican control of the seat — many top Republicans such as Senate Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Rick Scott said that they would defer to the voters’ judgment. Even some of Greitens’ own opponents, such as Congressman Billy Long, initially said that voters weren’t interested in Greitens’ scandals anymore because “everybody’s run that thing through the mill.” As recently as this week, Gov. Mike Parson declined to echo Missouri’s two U.S. Senators’ call for Greitens to drop out.
The second reason he will not drop out regardless of what allegations emerge is that there is a larger difference between winning and losing for him than arguably for any candidate in the country this year.
Let me explain via contrast.
If Billy Long wins, then he spends a term in the Senate. If he loses, he likely comes home to southwest Missouri for years of leisurely fishing and celebrity auctioneering.
If Eric Schmitt loses, he’ll still be Attorney General for as long as he wants to be. If he’d rather make more money, he could likely secure a role as general counsel of a St. Louis company, or a partnership at a St. Louis law firm.
But if Eric Greitens loses, he is a disgraced former governor whose latest circle of friends — the B- and C-list Trump acolytes like Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon — will likely discard him as quickly as Trump dropped them when their baggage became too heavy.
Greitens once made $40,000 per pop as a motivational speaker exhorting reverent audiences to model humility and virtue in their daily actions. Even if any corporate leaders able to pay decent speaking fees found him a credible messenger on such topics at this point, they would not be able to bring him in without facing a rebellion from female employees.
The same goes for major book publishers, who will no longer pay the six-figure advances that Greitens once earned for his books.
And when he tried to return to the Navy – had you ever heard that he was once a SEAL? – as a means to politically rehabilitate himself following his resignation, he found that they didn’t want him back. He had to pull strings leveraging then-Vice President Pence to even get an unglamorous desk job.
The third reason Greitens will stay in the race is that, as appalling as the latest round of allegations is, they don’t really affect his campaign strategy at all. And to date, that strategy has worked brilliantly.
The foundation of Greitens’s strategy are two related trends — the polarization and nationalization of American politics — which together have catalyzed the decline of…