To those who are wondering about the identity of the mystery Republican Senate candidate in a tight race who tells The Washington Post's Dana Milbank that his party affiliation is "a scarlet letter": My money is on Maryland's Michael Steele.
The candidate sports French cuffs, according to Milbank? Sure looks to me as if Steele's wearing French cuffs here. Oh, here, too.
French cuffs (Wikipedia).
Whoever it is, the story's mighty entertaining:
The candidate, immersed in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, sat down to lunch yesterday with reporters at a Capitol Hill steakhouse and shared his views about this year's political currents.
On the Iraq war: "It didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace."
On the response to Hurricane Katrina: "A monumental failure of government."
On the national mood: "There's a palpable frustration right now in the country."
It's all fairly standard Democratic boilerplate -- except the candidate is a Republican. And he's getting all kinds of cooperation from the White House, the Republican National Committee and GOP congressional leaders.
Not that he necessarily wants it. "Well, you know, I don't know," the candidate said when asked if he wanted President Bush to campaign for him. Noting Bush's low standing in his home state, he finally added: "To be honest with you, probably not." ...
Has Steele had "all kinds of cooperation from the White House"? Yeah, that sounds about right. (Looks as if he's wearing French cuffs at that link, too.)
If I'm right, what do I win?
(I really don't think it's Tom Kean Jr. in Jersey -- he may actually beat an incumbent. As for Santorum, can you really imagine him "[speaking] of his party affiliation as though it were a congenital defect rather than a choice"? Remember, his state regularly elects another Republican to the Senate; he has to know it's his positions that are killing him, not his party affiliation.)
UPDATE: Well, a lot of people are saying it's Steele now.
I think he's screwed, by the way. He may have thought that his dissent from the party line would help him in his blue state in the event he was ID'd, but he just looks like a guy who's afraid to stand up and say what he means. That's what Maryland Democratic voters are going to think -- and the loyalty-obsessed, vengeful Bushies are not going to forget this, ever.
UPDATE: And now ABC says Steele's the one.