WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin talks up mystery man McFadden

A note from the chef: When I put up the post below earlier today, I was unaware that Mike McFadden had put up an issue section on his campaign website. I just found it out and will write about it soon. But to the degree that this post implies that McFadden still hasn’t taken policy positions, I assume he has made substantial progress on that score. EB.

Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s righty op-ed writer, makes the case this morning that Mike McFadden could put the Al Franken U.S. Senate seat into play. Like everyone else, she doesn’t know McFadden’s position on any issues, but seems unbothered by the blank slate. From her calory-free analysis:

McFadden “can position himself as a Washington outsider.” McFadden “is believed to have the funds to partially self-fund his campaign.” McFadden “is the favorite of establishment Republicans.” McFadden’s “campaign adviser, Todd Harris, insists that McFadden is a real threat” to Franken. McFadden is “extolling ‘earned success’ … and limited but effective government.”

Rubin also passes along two or three of the Republicans’ favorite attack points on Franken.

This is embarrassing for someone with a perch at one of the nation’s major newspapers. I know that horseracism is almost everything but Rubin should at least pretend to care about a policy matter or two.

Rubin didn’t have the benefit of the latest news from the McFadden campaign, but this morning the candidate released the fourth in his “Minute with Mike” series of videos introducing himself to the Minnesota electorate. It’s titled “Freedom” and McFadden says it’s a Republican idea and he’s for it.

Some quotes from the new video:

“Freedom is our word. It’s an American word. It’s a Republican word… We are risk-takers. I mean you think about it, we’re a nation of immigrants… Health care. We have to do things better. No, not by nationalizing one-sixth of the economy but to do it better here in the state of Minnesota… So freedom is the ability to take risks. And with risks comes failure. We will have failure. But without failure, you don’t have success.”

I can’t seem to embed the video at the moment, but this link should get it for you.

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Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/18/2014 - 11:58 am.

    The Republicans still seem to think

    that Americans are basically negative;
    that the way to win an election is to run -against- ideas and people rather than make specific proposals.
    Either that or they still haven’t come up with any positive recommendations; specific actions that they might actually take if elected.

    Some of us think more of our compatriots.

    • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/19/2014 - 08:41 am.

      Obama, 2008

      Just six years ago, Democrats throughout the country, simply ran against Bush and the Republicans. I guess they didn’t think much of our compatriots. Obama’s campaign was a blank slate. That’s not just me popping off either. Here is an article from 2008, quoting the New Republic: http://swampland.time.com/2008/10/08/barack_obama_as_ellisons_invis/
      Honestly, is it that hard to step back and look at your own side before offering this kind of condemnation?

      • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 02/20/2014 - 11:16 am.

        We ask Republicans that question every day.

        Glad you found a single instance of Democrats doing it. Should keep them honest. The same obviously can’t be said of Republicans.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/20/2014 - 12:44 pm.

        What’s your point?

        I will never understand the conservative mindset that thinks Democrats or liberals must offer up a criticism of their “own side” whenever mentioning anything negative about a Republican. I know it’s nothing more than an attempt at deflection, but it never does anything besides create a little noise.

        Or perhaps I missed something. Perhaps Mr. Brandon said “and no Democrat has ever done the same thing.” If he did, could you please point me to that remark? I don’t see it.

        • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/25/2014 - 07:39 am.

          You don’t see it?

          Here’s how his comment starts: “The Republicans still seem to think that Americans are basically negative; that the way to win an election is to run -against- ideas and people rather than make specific proposals.” I’m pointing out that this was the Democratic playbook in 2008. The idea that this is some kind of Republican specific tactic is simply wrong. I’m hoping that if I point that things like this are universal, that we’ll get past blustering noise and actually get on to policy. It would be supremely helpful if people would get past the impulse to treat their opponents like cardboard cutouts of villains.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/25/2014 - 10:46 am.

            Cardboard Cutouts of Villains

            Politics has always been personalized and has always relied on demonizing and dehumanizing one’s opponents. I would say that, since the mid 90s, Republicans have relied on this strategy more than Democrats have.

            Policy would be preferable to blustering. Do you think that, deep down, the American public has the attention span? I ask this in all seriousness and with no small concern. The idea that a candidates’ debate would be a lengthy exposition of ideals (such as, the Lincoln-Douglas debates) has been, I think, supplanted by efforts to come up with the best zingers for the “news” folks to chuckle over on TV. This is the kind of environment that lends itself to caricatures and cheap shots.

            There is also the cultural norm in America that makes a detachment from politics or policy the norm. How many times have you heard someone brag about politics boring them?

  2. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 02/18/2014 - 12:24 pm.

    This would be funny…

    Sadly this is reminiscent of Pat Paulsen’s candidacy for president on the Smothers Brothers Show.

    He said during the campaign, “Deep down, I happen to be very shallow.” I think it would be a great McFadden bumper sticker!

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/18/2014 - 12:52 pm.

    Risk taker?Seems to me that

    Risk taker?

    Seems to me that the entire game for the Republicans like McFadden is stacking the deck to eliminate the risk to their bottom line.

    It’s his corporate life.

    Why would you think it would be different in his “public service” life?

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/18/2014 - 12:58 pm.

    Just for some perspective, Jennifer Rubin shilled uncomfortably hard for the corporate candidate, Romney, in the last presidential campaign.


  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/18/2014 - 02:29 pm.

    Risk taking always sounds good in the abstract. When you get down to the practicalities, you see what is really at stake. Risk taking means that we not only have the “freedom to fail (Mr. McFadden: is that the new slogan at Lazare?),” but are giving ourselves the very real possibility of failure. That possibility can be brushed aside when you have a big cushion of cash to fall on, or if you have enough connections to land on your feet.
    The public sector doesn’t work like that. Failure has bigger consequences than a bunch of wealthy clients losing some money. The war in Iraq–look at the consequences there. We can “learn from our mistakes” and do better, but the price of that learning has been almost 4500 American soldiers killed, and nearly 1.5 million Iraqis killed since the US invasion. It’s one thing to play with money. The stakes are higher when you’re a Senator.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/18/2014 - 04:40 pm.


    Mr. McFadden is spouting rhetorical pablum, bereft of any intellectual content or specificity. “Freedom” is no more an American or Republican word than “Independence” is an American or Republican word.

    The concepts those words represent are well-nigh universally understood around the planet, and claims that they’re somehow exclusively American or exclusively Republican are laughably pretentious. They’re also inaccurate.

    I’ve never encountered or read about a political candidate in this country who was opposed to “freedom.” It’s the Republican dog whistle at work again. Personally, I like Beth-Ann Bloom’s suggestion.

  7. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/19/2014 - 08:35 am.

    The New Attack Line?

    It seems like this is plan of attack then. It’s mid-February and the lack of detailed plans from McFadden now makes him ‘mysterious’. This is frankly ridiculous.
    Is it a standard that you’d accept if the target was a Dem? For instance, I note that Hillary Clinton hasn’t weighed in on some pressing issues like fixing Obamacare. If there is an article about her frontrunner status, will it be ’embarrassing’ not to note her lack of position?
    There is every reason to believe that McFadden will be a reliable Republican vote in the same way that Franken is a reliable Democratic vote. There’s no mystery here.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/20/2014 - 08:35 am.

      Mrs. Clinton’s position

      on all the issues will be “vote for me because I’m a woman” and that will be enough for the group-identity requirements that pass for governing philosophy in her party.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 02/21/2014 - 02:22 am.


        Clinton is the complete antithesis of a woman who would expect to garner votes because of her gender. But keep digging…it will be a pleasure to watch you and your ilk lose yet another election, in part because of the rampant misogyny that infests your party. The other part being that your stable of potential candidates have all the likeability of dysentery.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/20/2014 - 02:47 pm.

      Did I miss something?

      Is Hillary Clinton an announced candidate for office? Which one?

      When Mr. McFadden makes his inevitable speech about how he wants to be the kind of Senator who can reach across the aisle to get things done, will you reply “No! There is every reason to believe that you will be a reliable Republican vote.”?

  8. Submitted by jason myron on 02/19/2014 - 12:47 pm.

    Hillary Clinton

    hasn’t announced her candidacy yet…McFaddon has.

  9. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/21/2014 - 08:01 am.

    Campaign Slogan

    Freedom. Freedom freedom FREEDOM. Freedom!

    Oh, and vote for me.

    Silliness aside, it’s silly to claim that I’m for freedom and the Other Guy is not. That’s the classic attempt to paint your opponent as an evil wife beater or child molester while planting a halo on your own head. He has crooked teeth and mine are straight and white. He is not like me–he is not like us. Would you want someone with crooked teeth to lead this great country of ours? I didn’t think so!

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/23/2014 - 11:51 am.


    Mr. McFadden doesn’t seem to be a very clear thinker.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/23/2014 - 05:37 pm.

      Mc Fadden ducks

      McFadden literally walked out of the room on a questioner rather than answer a question about the Patriot Act. When pressed about it subsequently by a reporter in the hallway, he continued being evasive by answering “Once again, my focus is on the economy, education and health care”.

      Shortly thereafter, he added the “issues” section to his website:


      My takeaway from this was that he hadn’t yet been told by his handlers how to answer that particular question (Patriot Act). Kind of hard to think of every possible thing the parrot might be asked to answer, I guess. Bad, bad handlers!

      Hopefully now they’ve got it covered. If nothing else, if he again gets asked something his handlers have failed to instruct him how to answer, he can now direct the inquirer to his website (and hopefully the handlers have a quick-on-the-draw website writer on retainer to get needed changes and additions posted as quickly as possible!).

      Ain’t technology grand!

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/24/2014 - 06:10 am.


    It’s just the weirdest sort of campaign. He just seems this randomly chosen rich guy who seems to believe being rich is enough. He hasn’t seem to have been thinking deeply about anything. With business leaders like this, is it any wonder that businesses are in such tough shape?

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/24/2014 - 08:15 am.


    I think it’s time for us to realize that rich people are lousy investments for the rest of us. Folks like McFadden told us, “Give us your money, and we will make you rich.” Just didn’t happen.

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