‘Romney’ McDaniel takes her turn driving the GOP clown car

Before poking the Ronna Romney McDaniel piñata, let’s pause for this brief recollection of a joke about basketball and racial stereotypes once told on TV by a young, Black comedian.

I can’t remember his name, but I sure do recall the gist of his humor.

He said:

You white people. You’re so prejudiced.

You racially profile us all the time.

Say you’re sitting at the airport.

And you see a group of 12, young, seven-foot-tall, Black men walk by you.

So you immediately just assume we’re a basketball team, don’t you?

Many a truth is spoken in jest. Ironically, Michigan State Rep. Matt Maddock of Milford could have saved face last week with such simple-minded stereotyping. Instead, he took knee-jerk racism up a notch and added a new twist that drew hoots of scorn from national critics both left and right.

As a result, Maddock challenged Romney McDaniel and others of their ilk for the title of “Most Embarrassing Michigan Republican for the Month of March.” The bronze medal went to Congressman Tim Walberg, whose cute quips about mass slaughter will be discussed in a moment.

Maddock did his bit by posting online a photo of the Gonzaga basketball team’s private airplane and chartered buses at the Detroit airport. He seemed to think this was a scheme by who-knows-who to ferry undocumented immigrants to the Motor City.

“. . . Illegal invaders at Detroit Metro,” Maddock wrote. “Anyone have any idea where they’re headed with their police escort?”

Turns out they were headed downtown to play in the regional round of the NCAA tournament at Little Caesars Arena. On Friday night, they lost to Purdue, ending their invasion. Maddock refused to apologize. How will this poor buffoon cope in two years when World Cup Soccer comes to the U.S.?

By driving the Michigan Republican clown car late in the week, Maddock snatched the steering wheel from Romney McDaniel, whose shabby treatment from both former President Donald Trump and by NBC News made her almost — but not quite — a sympathetic figure.

A late, dark-horse challenge to both Romney McDaniel and to Maddock came from Walberg, the U.S. Representative from the Fifth Congressional District in southern Michigan.

He recently told a town hall meeting that America should not aid Gaza’s citizens with humanitarian supplies while Israel attacks. Instead, he said, suffering Palestinians should be massacred with atomic weapons.

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid,” Walberg said in Dundee, according to The Detroit News. “It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick.”

Horrific as his comments were, the winner for the week was still Romney McDaniel. On her debut as an NBC news commentator a week ago Sunday on Meet the Press, she wore a snazzy jacket of Democratic blue — not Republican red — and a flouncy paisley blouse with the dominant color of blue.

This was to be her first day in a two-year gig for $600,000 in total. She first paid props to her home state and the chip always on its shoulder.

“I come from a state that’s been overlooked,” said the former chair of the Michigan Republican party. “I don’t see my state represented in a lot of news media.”

Casually but expertly, she blended local concerns into boilerplate Republican talking points.

“When I look at my state of Michigan and I look at the cost of food, the cost of rent, the cost of insurance, I feel less safe,” she said. “Crime is on the rise. We’re seeing fentanyl coming across our border. We’re seeing an open border.”

Welker quickly corrected her by pointing out that crime is down and most drugs come through established ports. She kept returning to Romney McDaniel’s mortal sin: Her support of former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie that he won the 2020 presidential election over current President Joe Biden.

Those two probably will meet in the rematch this November. Weeks after the election four years ago, Romney McDaniel and Trump telephoned two Wayne County canvassers urging them not to certify legitimate votes in the Detroit area, where Biden was a big winner.

“We will get you attorneys,” she told them.

Although defending her actions then, Romney McDaniel conceded to Welker that Biden is really president — Stop the presses! — and she also criticized Trump’s Jan. 6 lynch mob that tried to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence and keep Trump in power illegally through violent insurrection.

Trump has vowed to pardon and release the imprisoned felons who stormed the capitol that day after his menacing speech behind the White House. He calls these convicts “hostages” and “patriots.” Romney McDaniel disagreed on NBC, a network Trump often denounces.

“I don’t think we should be freeing people who violently attacked Capitol Hill police officers,” Romney McDaniel said.

Her Campaign ’24 sideshow reached critical mass immediately after her appearance with Welker. Chuck Todd of NBC — on camera — led a mutiny of his colleagues on the main network as well as those who work on its liberal-leaning cable cousin MSNBC.

Over there, hosts like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell loudly and proudly refused to use Romney McDaniel not because Romney McDaniel is a Republican but because she was an election denier who supported most lies Trump told.

Trump, after all, had lifted her from leading the Michigan GOP to chairing the national committee in 2017. But he dumped her a few weeks ago, replacing her with his daughter-in-law and some other guy named Michael Whatley.

After two days of both incoming flak and friendly fire, NBC executives also unloaded Romney McDaniel. So the least we can do is to give her back her real name.

As part of her oath of fealty to Trump, she had stopped using her maiden name “Romney” in the middle because her uncle, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, had fallen from favor with Trump. He also forced her to stop public support for LGBTQ+ causes.

That’s how Trump chews up and digests his allies before excreting them. In his usual, graceless way, Trump dismissed Romney McDaniel the same way he brushed off Pence and other high-level Republicans after using, abusing, and discarding them.

“Wow!” wrote the large, loud, orange-faced, yellow-haired demagogue on an internet post. “Ronna McDaniel got fired by Fake News NBC. She lasted only two days . . . It leaves her, in a very strange place, it’s called NEVER NEVERLAND, and it’s not a place you want to be.”

Few will shed tears for Romney McDaniel. At worst, she will be paid all that money by NBC for two years of work that was condensed into 20 minutes. Or, perhaps she’ll cut a deal to comment elsewhere.

As election day nears, right-wing TV channels, radio shows, and internet streams are flowing with half-truths, full lies, and shameless propaganda. There’s always room for one more skilled spinner.

She could always write a book, perhaps assessing her place in her own family legacy. Her grandfather, the auto exec and Republican George Romney, was a respected Michigan governor who knew how to deal with Democrats when the companies and the unions were flush with lots to go around.

Her uncle, Mitt, was one of few Republicans with the conscience and courage to stand up to Trump. Perhaps that cost Mitt his career. Might his niece ever write or say or do anything to bring honor to a Michigan-rooted political family that still carries a prominent name?

Perhaps she can come back here to help repair the steaming mess of the Republican Party in her Great Lakes State. Despite its disarray, the red team could win both the open U.S. Senate seat and take the state in the presidential vote.

Romney McDaniel could start by speaking quietly and with sanity to half-cocked zealots like Maddock and Walberg and to all the other local yokels and paranoid crackpots who have turned the Michigan GOP into both a national punch line and local punching bag.

Happy landings, Ronna. Welcome home.

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