A major part of Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s re-election campaign has been posturing herself as an ally of President Donald Trump. From the earliest days of the marketing campaign to re-elect her, Heitkamp has touted that she’s voted with Trump more than half of the time.
For a while Democrats and left wing commentators even tried to suggest that Trump likes their candidate more than he does Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer who is challenging her in the election this year.
So it’s odd, then, to see Senator Heitkamp’s brother and close political ally, Joel Heitkamp, making a social media post like this one in which he suggests that President Trump’s response to natural disasters hinges on the race of victims:
Joel Heitkamp is the sort of media personality who isn’t very bright – describing the east coast as nothing but white people is one of the stupidest things I’ve read in a while – and so must draw a crowd by insulting people and saying intemperate things.
That sort of thing does work. It appeals to people in the same way that morbid curiosity prompts us to slow down to gawk at highway accidents.
Think of his approach as the political pundit version of paying homeless people to fight each other while you record them. It’s not exactly rocket science, and it’s ethically repugnant, but when you need to build an audience and your intellect is as shallow as a puddle it’s what you have to do I guess.
So it goes.
But does Senator Heitkamp condone this sort of disgusting partisan rhetoric? Especially as she postures herself as someone who will work with President Trump? Someone willing to reach across partisan divide to get things done for North Dakota?
Her defenders will argue that these comments come from her brother, and not from her, which might make sense if her brother and his radio station weren’t basically a part of her re-election campaign. Joel Heitkamp routinely acts as a surrogate for his sister, attacking her critics and advancing the narratives which best suit her political ambitions, while employing other liberal commentators who do the same.
Heidi Heitkamp doesn’t get a pass on this. If she means what she says in her campaign messaging about bipartisanship and working together, she ought to condemn this.
I’d ask her, but neither Heitkamp nor her staff have ever responded to my inquiries or interview requests during her six years in office.