Emerson soundly ventured that "when you strike at a king, you must kill him." In Jon Ossoff's strike there was no deficiency of effort, though there was a peculiarity. Just who was the king? Was it Trump, or the GOP's assorted court jesters who sought to replace Tom Price, or something even more sinister? The answer — also from Emerson — to follow.
Ossoff's unmistakable target was a kind of proxied Trump in the form of Karen Handel, Georgia's former secretary of state and sole survivor of her party's overpopulated scramble to hold the 6th congressional district. Ossoff's unmistakable difficulty was that Handel, as the NY Times frames it, "was less fervent in her support for [Trump] than the other Republican candidates in the race." And her lagging fervency is likely to persist. For instance at her "lightly attended victory party" last night, Handel cited the district's legacy of Newt Gingrich and Price, but "made no mention of Mr. Trump."
The ostensible king was, and shall remain for Handel, a phantom, an embarrassment, a partisan humiliation to be avoided. Were Georgia's 6th district not respectably educated, last night's Republican victor would have been hailing the vastly impeachable human atrocity as a successor to Teddy Roosevelt, or some such laughable comparison. The district's inadequate ignorance, however, obviated that ploy. Hence Ossoff is stuck with running against an invention of his own: Handel as Trump.
This presents a, ahem, problem for the Democrat. As the Post's Robert Costa understates the situation, "Ossoff could find it difficult to sustain the momentum he witnessed this past week in a traditionally Republican district." The Dem has declared that "there is no amount of dark money, super PAC, negative advertising that can overcome real grassroots energy like this," which is indeed a bold declaration, of necessary confidence. But the GOP and its well- and obscenely financed outside groups are about to hit him with an unprecedented barrage of super-dark negativity. The smart, cynical money is on She Who Knows Trump Not.
Which brings us back to the question of just who is the king whom Ossoff, it must be admitted, unsuccessfully struck at, and is striking at again. And, as promised, the answer again comes from Emerson, who further ventured that "as men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect."
To repeat, Georgia's 6th congressional district is highly educated. And yet the district's reigning intellect is diseased by the loathsome creed of — which is to say, the loathsome ideology of — modern Republicanism. Any creed, any ideology saps free, honest and independent thought, as Emerson underscored in his most famous essay, "Self-Reliance." For any creed is also that "foolish consistency" which acts as "the hobgoblin of little minds."
That is the king whom Ossoff is fundamentally striking at. And foolish though the king may be, he's immensely powerful and essentially invulnerable.