May 12, 2016

The nativist wing of the conservative movement is trying to make Paul Ryan's primary challenger a national conservative hero:

Paul Nehlen, the Wisconsin businessman who has launched a primary challenge to Rep. Paul Ryan, is currently touring the U.S.-Mexico border alongside Brandon Darby, the top editor of Breitbart Texas.

Oooh, a tour of the border, just like Donald Trump. Nehlen has also been endorsed by Sarah Palin.

So, can Nehlen win? Hard to see that happening, given the fact that Ryan has a 76% approval rating among Republicans in Wisconsin -- and also because Nehlen's attempt to transform himself into Vladimir Putin is, um, less than convincing:

In a campaign video, he rides a motorcycle through Wisconsin scenery in a sleeveless shirt that shows off his tattoos. As he parks the bike, the camera cuts to a closeup of the woman riding in the rear seat grabbing his shoulder to steady herself as she dismounts the bike.

No, really, he does all that, with his sleeveless shirt revealing a tattoo that says MOLON LABE ("Come and Take Them"), a favorite slogan of Tea Partiers, gunners, and other angry white dad-rock-crankin' malcontents -- and yet you never believe for a second that he's the macho man he pretends to be. Then he switches to a suit and does the rest of the ad on a factory floor, while still trying to pretend he's going to kick Ryan's ass:

He criticizes Ryan over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) global trade treaty, and challenges Ryan to “come back to Wisconsin and debate me man to man, face to face, on the realities of TPP. And if you don’t want to debate me, maybe we can arm wrestle.”

Dude, Paul Ryan works out way more than you do.

Watch the video at the top. Does Nehlen intimidate you?

If you've built a few skyscrapers and married Botoxed supermodels and had a successful TV career like Trump, or if you run a corrupt petro-semi-superpower and have your enemies poisoned like Putin, you can get away with an act like this. Nehlen, by contrast, has been a sub-CEO executive at a number of little-known corporations with operations in the Midwest, according to his LinkedIn page, where he describes himself this way:

An experienced global business executive who - with the highly motivated teams I've been fortunate to build and develop - leads organizations that deliver solid EBITDA improvement. We execute on organic sales growth from new products and services as we expand operating margins through rigorous cost management and elimination of non-value added activities.

Significant experience applying proven lean business processes from customer service interactions throughout factories and offices and out to customers and suppliers. We improve trust and reliability of the supply chain and build stronger - more profitable businesses and improve cash flow. This experience was earned through the rigor of tactical M&A business assimilations in the Fortune 500 setting, while owning and growing the P&L's....

... Hunh? Whoops, sorry, I think I fell asleep for a second there. Or maybe I got distracted by the sign on the wall in the photo on Tough Guy Nehlen's LinkedIn, which says "WORK HARD & BE NICE TO PEOPLE."

Look, this guy could win -- Dave Brat did beat Eric Cantor, after all. But I doubt it. We've seen so many alleged RINOs beat primary challengers in recent years -- Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, John McCain. The House defenestrated John Boehner, but he never lost a primary. Reports of the death of the GOP Establishment are greatly exaggerated. And this guy really doesn't seem like a killer.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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