Trump has only himself to blame for Kathy Barnette, Pennsylvania’s terrifying new MAGA darling

Donald Trump is unhappy with the shape of the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania. His fame and thirst for celebrity led him to endorse reality TV star Dr. Mehmet Oz, an accomplished surgeon who gave it all up for the easy money of selling snake oil. But now it looks like Oz could lose his primary, dealing an embarrassing blow to Trump’s fragile ego. Worse, Oz may not even lose to generic Republican candidate David McCormick, a walking MAGA hat whose bland white-man appearance may pass as “normal” to uninformed swing voters. (I like to call this “pulling Glenn Youngkin.”) No, the emerging candidate is Kathy Barnette, a crackpot, far-right commentator in the vein of Christine O’Donnell or Todd Akin; in other words, she’s weird enough to pull into the national spotlight, but with extreme views that could sink her in a general election race.

“Kathy Barnette can never win the general election against radical left Democrats,” Trump ranted in a statement issued Thursday. He complained that she “has a lot in her past that hasn’t been adequately explained or investigated”, and argued that “Oz is the only one who can easily defeat the crazy, lunatic Democrat in Pennsylvania.”

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Politico describes Barnette’s polling surge as “somewhat disconcerting.” Not so, however, if one has been closely monitoring how much Trumpism has fueled the backlash to the #MeToo movement and the growing anger against feminism. Trump won in 2016 thanks to a widespread sexist tantrum over a woman, Hillary Clinton, who won the Democratic nomination for president. Trump reinforced the message of misogyny throughout his campaign, beginning with mocking a journalist for having her period and ending with an absurdly insincere apology for the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he can be heard bragging about a sexual assault. .

Barnette’s entry into the Misogyny Olympics is outrageous even by MAGA’s low standards.

Barnette’s entry into the Misogyny Olympics is outrageous even by MAGA’s low standards. She has been circulating a video and a story about how his mother she was raped at age 11 in 1971. While Barnette’s subsequent birth is treated as a beautiful sacrifice on her mother’s part, it’s worth noting that she didn’t exactly have many options as a black girl in Alabama before Roe v. wade .


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As feminist writer Jessica Valenti pointed out in a recent newsletter, “people talk about abortion like something is ending,” but in reality, access to abortion ensures opportunities for women. Citing how her abortion made her marriage, her daughter, and her career possible, Valenti wrote, “Abortion opponents like to hypothesize about the extraordinary baby a woman could have if she simply didn’t have an abortion: What What would happen if they cured cancer? No one asks if that woman herself could change the world.” When we talk about rape victims who are literally children, it is even more evident; their entire future may depend on having access to abortion.

Barnette calls rape “horrible” in the video, but, by the anti-choice logic she appeals to with her message, if forced childbirth is a beautiful thing because it results in “life,” wouldn’t that make fertilization forced to be as beautiful as okay? In fact, MAGA circles went wild last week during an event at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where a speaker declared, “It’s not your body, your choice. Your body is mine and you’re going to have my baby.” . That’s why the anti-choice movement also opposes birth control. People who feel compelled by the idea that a person wouldn’t be here if a woman had terminated a pregnancy are likely to encounter other potential obstacles to giving birth, including pregnancy prevention through contraception or a woman’s right to refusing to have sex, also suspicious.

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Barnette’s appeal for MAGA foundation isn’t exactly mysterious. The anti-abortion crowd has always romanticized the stories of women submitting to extreme levels of oppression. She puts an ennobling sheen on what is really a deeply sadistic attitude towards women.

As much as he hates to admit it, Trump’s objections to Barnette echo concerns already expressed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In April, McConnell gave a speech in which he said Republicans are in a good position for the midterms unless they “screw this up” by running “unacceptable” candidates. As Russell Berman pointed out in The Atlantic late that month, McConnell is likely thinking of “the GOP’s missed opportunities in 2010 and 2012,” where lunatic candidates lost races they might otherwise have won. In at least two cases, he went for “defending his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape.”


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Well, Barnette doesn’t just oppose abortion rights for rape victims. She built her entire campaign around that. Opponents of abortion like to tap into stories of people claiming to be the product of rape because they know it shuts down some arguments. However, that does not mean that those stories convince people. “Being forced to give birth to a high school rapist’s baby is good, actually” is a bad campaign slogan, no matter how much personal testimony is put behind it. Republican strategists desperately want the campaign be about anything but forced laborbut Barnette can make that impossible in Pennsylvania.

Clearly, the powers that be in the GOP are worried about Barnette.

Besides, that’s just one of his many truly fringe positions. Reporters haven’t even really begun to investigate, and the investigation into his bigoted statements has begun to flow in volumes, documented extensively on his own radio show. He compared being a Muslim to “Hitler’s Nazi Germany world view.” He compared same-sex marriage to marriage between “an older man and a 12-year-old boy.” (Which is remarkably similar to the setup that led to the forced labor she celebrates.) “Two men sleeping together, two men holding hands, two men caressing, that’s not normal,” she said. She lamented LGBTQ rights as a “blitz to normalize sexual perversion.”

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It’s a race that is expected to get a lot of national attention because Pennsylvania is a swing state. Barnette stands out from a field full of MAGA heads because of her race and gender, but also because, as Trump suggests, much is still unknown about her. That opens the door to investigations into her background. Clearly, the powers that be in the GOP are concerned about Barnette, because they are publishing opposition investigations of her in the right-wing press, such as the ongoing campaign to destroy Madison Cawthorn, the extremist MAGA congresswoman from North Carolina. Unlike states where the local media has been completely destroyed, Pennsylvania still has some popular local newspapers like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer, which make it difficult for shadowy politicians to avoid press scrutiny.

Barnette stands out from a crowded field of MAGA heads because of her race and gender, but also because, as Trump suggests, much is still unknown about her.

It’s a tough year for Democrats, who are taking the blame for inflation and the general malaise of Americans, but the public is starting to get pretty angry about issues like the upcoming overturn of Roe v. Wade. All of this makes her a very poor candidate for the Republican Party in this race.

But if Barnette is a bridge too far, as Trump fears, he alone is to blame. His electoral success in 2016, even though he never won the popular vote, encouraged the Republican base to believe that they could win the election by fielding any troll they wanted. Trump has not done much to discourage this idea. He endorsed Herschel Walker in Georgia, who lied about graduating from college and is accused of threatening to kill his ex-wife. He has endorsed a Nebraska gubernatorial candidate on eight sexual assault charges. Before endorsing Oz, Trump’s man in the Pennsylvania Senate race was Sean Parnell, whose wife accused him of punching her and slamming a door in a child’s face. Trump has no discernible objection to candidates with unsavory attitudes about violence against women. His cold feet around Barnette might change some minds. But in a Republican primary system that is mostly a race to the bottom, it’s no surprise that someone like her is taking the lead.

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