The Guardian reports: Donald Trump will doubtless be gratified that Greg Gianforte won the special election in Montana. Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, might secretly have been hoping that he lost.
Gianforte was charged on Wednesday night with assaulting Ben Jacobs, a Guardian reporter attempting to interview him. If he had gone on to lose, House Republicans could have dismissed him as a candidate gone rogue and cautioned against reading too much into the result on a national level.
As it is, the party will now have to decide whether to embrace, accommodate or ostracise a man who made himself the personification of Trump’s media-baiting, violence-inciting campaign rhetoric. The legal saga will put a dark cloud over him and his movements on Capitol Hill are likely to receive outsized and negative coverage. In short, he is a liability adding to Ryan’s already considerable burden.
“This is going to be another of those moral tests for the Republican party,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative author and commentator. “It should be an easy one for them to say there is no place for violence against reporters.”
In normal politics, Skyes added, the incident would have been universally condemned. But, since the ascent of Trump, the compass has moved. “It’s hard to overstate the cynicism we’ve seen from Republicans in Washington who will stop at nothing when votes are involved. How far down the road are Republicans willing to go?” [Continue reading…]