GOP Primary Loser Chided for Not Getting Over Winner’s Smears and Lies Like Trump’s Rivals Did

Republicans are wondering why defeated Representative Robert Pittenger can’t turn the page on the nasty tactics of a primary opponent, the way “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz did. Photo: Getty Images

It’s a small straw in the ill wind that has been blowing through American politics in the Trump era. But it is indeed illuminating, as this report from the Charlotte Observer suggests:

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger has refused to endorse the man who beat him in this month’s Republican primary, saying Mark Harris should apologize for his attack ads …

Pittenger, who outspent Harris, objected to ads that suggested he supported Planned Parenthood, opposed President Donald Trump’s border wall and backed sanctuary cities. Those criticisms came after Pittenger voted this year for a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, which was signed by Trump.

Of course these attacks were a pack of lies, since had Pittenger actually taken the positions Harris accused him of, he would not have gotten 10 percent of the primary vote, coming pretty close to winning in a rematch of his close race against Harris, a classic Christian right minister, two years ago. The Harris campaign is puzzled that Pittenger hasn’t come around. And a local GOP county chairman figures it will happen once the lame-duck congressman realizes that whatever Harris did pales in comparison to the inherent evil of the other party:

“We have to remember that primaries can be bruising,” he said. “When it’s all over … I’m confident that the congressman will come around after the wounds have healed for the party and to prevent (Democratic Leader) Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker.”

As the Reverend Harris might say: partisanship covereth a multitude of sins.

But you also have to figure the leader all these birds adore set a certain example in 2016 for using nasty and hateful language toward his intraparty rivals that they later forgave. Remember the comparison of Ben Carson to a child molester? Or the references to Lindsey Graham as “a nutjob” and as “one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen”? And how about the constant attacks on “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, and the slurs on Heidi Cruz’s looks and ethics, and the bizarre suggestion that Cruz’s beloved father Rafael was involved in the JFK assassination? These are things that make Harris’s lies look relatively benign. But they didn’t keep Carson from joining Trump’s Cabinet, or Graham from becoming Trump’s golfing buddy, or Cruz from writing a sycophantic profile of Trump for Time magazine. These may be the models Mark Harris’s campaign has in mind:

“Our intention is to give Congressman Pittenger the space he needs to come to terms with the outcome of the race …

“Certainly there’s no ill will on our part of anyone.”

It was all a shuck, and just part of the game in this wonderful phase of American politics we have entered.

GOP Primary Loser Chided for Not Getting Over Smears