Yesterday’s strangest story was the

Yesterday’s strangest story was the withdrawal of the Republican Senate candidate in Montana, Mike Taylor, after the Democrats released an ad showing Taylor–who owned some salons during the 1980’s–working as a hairdresser. Taylor denounced the ads as a slur, intended to suggest that he was a homosexual, and dropped out of the race against Max Baucus. Baucus will now presumably be unopposed, since the deadline to replace Taylor has passed. Some commentators, most notably Andrew Sullivan, have joined Taylor in denouncing the ad as a homophobic slander. I’m not so sure; I haven’t seen the ad. If I run across it later in the day, I’ll link to it. From descriptions I’ve read, the ad would make Taylor look dumb, but homosexual? I don’t know. The more fundamental story appears to be that the Republicans have once again run a weak candidate in an important race. Baucus was not unbeatable and there is no shortage of Republicans in Montana. This was, after all, not a race for some obscure local office, but for the United States Senate. And the best the Republicans could do was a guy who could be driven out by the revelation that he used to be a hairdresser? It is a basic rule of politics that if you run against a Democrat, you should be prepared to be slandered. It is hard to understand how the Republicans nominated someone who didn’t see this one coming.

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