The Buzz

TheChat: Jack Danforth takes on political consultants in his eulogy of Tom Schweich


Good morning.

Today we devote TheChat to quotes from former Missouri Sen. Jack Danforth’s stirring eulogy of former state Auditor Tom Schweich Tuesday in Clayton.

Danforth’s words were memorable, his focus clear as he took dead aim at a pair of Missouri political consultants involved in attacks against Schweich in recent weeks.

Danforth didn’t mention any consultants by name. But he is believed to have been addressing John Hancock, the new chair of the Missouri Republican Party who has acknowledged that he might have mentioned to some Republicans his belief that Schweich was Jewish. But Hancock denied that he intended to smear the candidate.

Also in Danforth’s cross-hairs is believed to be Jeff Roe, the head of Axiom Strategies of Kansas City who is thought to be involved in producing a radio spot that criticized Schweich’s personal appearance.

▪ “Politics has gone so hideously wrong.” — Danforth.

Danforth let it rip. “Tom called this anti-Semitism, and of course it was. The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry.” The state political community was wondering whether Hancock would resign. He had no comment on Tuesday.

▪ “This campaign for governor started two years in advance of the 2016 election. And even at this early date, what has been said is worse than anything in my memory, and that’s a long memory. I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign.” — Danforth.

One question that lingered after Danforth spoke: Will his words make any difference? The betting line here: It won’t.

▪ “Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state.” — more Danforth.

▪ “As for the radio commercial, making fun of someone’s physical appearance, calling him a 'little bug', there is one word to describe it: 'Bullying.’ And there is one word to describe the person behind it: 'Bully'.” — Danforth in an apparent reference to Roe.

▪ “Since Thursday, some good people have said, 'Well, that’s just politics' and Tom should have been less sensitive; he should have been tougher, and he should have been able to take it. Well, that is accepting politics in its present state and that we cannot do. It amounts to blaming the victim, and it creates a new normal, where politics is only for the tough and the crude and the calloused. The bully should get the blame not the victim.” — Danforth.

Hard to argue with any of this.