When Sen. Claire McCaskill looks through her looking glass these days, what does she see?
▪ A Republican governor in her home state who declared “a great victory” after a felony invasion-of-privacy charge was dropped — but who still faces possible impeachment.
▪ Gov. Eric Greitens’ allies attacking Attorney General Josh Hawley, who’s McCaskill’s likely rival this fall in the U.S. Senate race. Their beef: Hawley’s investigating — who else? — the scandal-prone governor from his own party.
▪ Rule-of-law conservatives sticking up for Greitens despite felony charges and a swirl of other allegations that multiply by the day. “We want to see Greitens stay in there,” Mike Buehler, the Vernon County clerk, told The Star. “He admitted his wrongdoing, so why do they keep going after him?”
▪ She sees a publisher booted out of the press corps for handing an anti-Greitens lawyer $50,000 in cash and national newspapers reporting that power in the Show-Me State “is often wielded in secret, and often with cash.”
In short, McCaskill sees the best friend she can have in politics these days, and that’s the ongoing, undeniable presence of GOP chaos.
It’s all around her — and every other Missourian these days. It’s weird. It’s wild. It’s embarrassing. It’s nonsensical.
It’s McCaskill in Wonderland. From her perspective, it’s absolutely glorious.
It’s this exact kind of chaos that rescued McCaskill in 2012 when she faced a monumental re-election battle as a trio of Republicans vied for the chance to challenge her, and two of them might have whipped her good. But it was the third candidate, the religious conservative Todd Akin — the one that McCaskill herself boosted in the primary via a series of well-crafted, counterintuitive TV ads — who all but handed the Democratic senator a second term with his remarks about “legitimate rape.”
Akin’s comment sent the GOP into tumult with demands that he drop from the race. His refusal and the ineffective intervention by veteran GOP leaders, such as Jack Danforth and Kit Bond, contributed to McCaskill drubbing Akin. Insiders recalled McCaskill having a blast that fall, watching the Republican drama unfold in ways she never could have imagined.
For McCaskill, it was, to use that word again, glorious.
This, of course, is taking place in a state that has turned increasingly red and one where Hawley is touted as a rising GOP star.
That’s what chaos gets you.
The poll showed something else: Fully 55 percent of Missouri Republicans continue to approve of the job that Greitens is doing. Those Republicans may not take kindly to Hawley’s legal pursuit of Greitens for his use of self-destructing text messages and of a donor list that the governor allegedly stole from the charity he founded, The Mission Continues.
In fact, the poll suggested that Hawley’s support among Republicans may already be slipping. While 79 percent of Republicans said they backed Hawley, McCaskill was getting 92 percent support from Democrats.
GOP chaos hasn’t even reached its zenith. With impeachment proceedings about to envelop the Missouri House, the zaniness is about to get zanier.
Not that Claire McCaskill minds.