Calling Dr. Cowan


Dr. John Cowan (Photo from @johncowanga | Instagram)

Dr. John Cowan (Photo from @johncowanga | Instagram)

Marjorie Taylor Greene really is deplorable.

I didn’t like it when Hillary Clinton used the word to describe Trump voters, but in this case, it applies.

How else to describe someone who traffics in anti-semitism and the sort of conspiracy that casts doubt on the events of 9/11 or the shooting tragedies at Sandy Hook and Parkland schools? I could rattle off a list of her greatest hits, but choose not to give them even more of an airing.

Condemning her is the easy part. Understanding how she got elected is more difficult. It also raises difficult questions. After all, she just won a primary runoff and a general election.

So who voted for her, and what does that say about our country?

Let’s start with what we know about the Georgia 14th. It’s in the northwest corner of the state and is comprised of 11 counties. In 2016, Donald Trump won it with 75 percent of the vote, and in 2020 with 73%. The Cook Partisan Index has it as R+27, making it the 10th most Republican district in the nation.

In other words, whoever is the GOP candidate, is usually a shoo-in. So, when incumbent Congressman Tom Graves chose not to run again, there was a competition on the Republican side. The primary had nine candidates. The top two ended up being Greene and Doctor John Cowan.

His campaign website described him as someone who should be pretty appealing to the base: “Christian, conservative, local physician, husband, and father.”

He pledged he would quote, “Stand with President Trump” on borders, pro-life, the second amendment, and religious freedom. Plus, support the military and help bring down healthcare costs. It also bears mentioning that he’s an elder, deacon, and Sunday school teacher at the First Presbyterian Church of Rome.

He was pretty much central casting, perfect for a conservative district like Georgia’s 14th. And yet, he lost.

While Cowan was endorsed by six Congressmen – including Minority Whip Steve Scalise – Greene had the support of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, and The Freedom Caucus.

Greene defeated Cowan, 57.1 percent to 42.9 percent.

Next week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is going to meet with Greene. It will be interesting to see if he is willing to reprimand her outrageous behavior. I hope so, but I’m not optimistic. On my CNN program, I promoted a survey question at Smerconish.com asking whether she will face punishment from the GOP. Only about 10% of more than 35,000 votes said yes.

I was very interested to hear what Dr. Cowan, Greene’s primary opponent, made of the fiasco she has become. And I wanted to know how she was able to defeat him, a more intelligent, educated, polished conservative than she will ever be?

“She presented herself as a very strong fighter, outspoken, and people said, you know, maybe that’s the type of grenade we need up in Washington, D.C., he told me.

Grenade is an accurate but sad descriptor.

I told him that in my neighborhood, the fact that he was a neurosurgeon married to an anesthesiologist would be an asset, but I wondered if for him it was a liability in Georgia’s 14th?

He said:

“I think there was some perception that gosh, a neurosurgeon is too aloof for it, he may be arrogant, and he can’t – he’s not willing to fight for us. And I think – the thing I was trying to portray is look, I grew up on a cattle farm in northwest Georgia. I was shooting coyotes when I was in second grade. I am northwest Georgia despite the fact that I went on to get a fancy degree and have a fancy title. I understand the people of our district and get that. And I’m willing to fight for conservative principles.”

Cowan and I agreed on the media’s role in giving rise to the Greene’s among us. The doctor said:

“I think it’s on the media. And it’s on political leaders on both sides of the aisle. We have got to tone down the rhetoric. We’ve got to stop this WWF mentality on TV when we see the dueling screens, people yelling at each other, going back-and-forth.

I mean, that feeds the people this narrative that, oh, my gosh, we are literally in a war when probably, when you close the doors in the chamber of the house and the TV cameras go off, these guys are actually sitting down being professionals and trying to get things done.

And I think — we’ve seen two decades of that, with the rise of social media, with the rise of cable TV, news TV, that we’ve seen this divisiveness play out in front of us and people are saying, oh, my goodness, these guys are going to attack us like they’re attacking each other. We are going to have to fight back.

And so I think it’s less that people have to be, as people said, deprogrammed, and the media has to be deprogrammed. Our politicians have to be deprogrammed and understand that they can influence the group psychology of this country in a very bad and disturbing way. And we – look, we saw this January 6th.

If that’s not a wake-up call to people in the media, people in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, we are lost as a republic.”

Hopefully, he runs against her again.

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