Despite having one of the worst headlines for an article in recent memory, Joe Vardon’s piece in this morning’s Dispatch is extremely revealing. It highlights what I would call the Tea Party Palinization of the Republican Party that has been going on since a black guy decided to run for and win the highest office in the land.

Palin famously was a policy and issues vacuum, preferring to rely mainly on empty catch phrases, right-wing rhetoric, and thinly veiled racism. Josh Mandel is like Sarah Palin’s cute little nephew, spewing the latest far right buzzwords like some kind of possessed corporate owned puppet.

The Dispatch was able to witness the first head to head rhetorical matchup between Brown and Mandel, and if their experience is a precursor to debates we might see in the Senate race I’d say Sherrod Brown is in pretty good shape. Despite giving the article a completely false headline that seems to indicate both Mandel and Brown came unhinged [ “Mandel, Brown take off glove”], the article does a good job of highlighting the difference between the sitting senior Senator from Ohio and the wingnut boy wonder Treasurer. There was no point in the actual article where you could come close to claiming that Brown took off any gloves. He was, in fact, quite measured and factual – refusing to even acknowledge Josh Mandel’s sleazy “un-American” attack.

Mandel not only takes his gloves AND his boots off, he starts flailing around like that kid in the sandlot who knows he’s going to lose and decides to start swinging madly in the hopes of landing a good punch:

“I don’t toss around the word un-American very often — it’s a dangerous word to use. But stripping … Delphi employees of their pensions with that vote — that is un-American,”

Brown doesn’t even get nicked and with a cool demeanor simply ducks the windmill flurry of scurrilous attacks Mandel spouts off. Mandel ends up falling flat on his face. They asked Josh to prove his American-ness by offering his alternatives to the decisions Sherrod Brown made and he had this to say:

When Mandel was asked by The Dispatch what he would have done differently at the time the federal loans were offered to the auto companies, as well as what health-care alternative he would offer to “ Obamacare,” Mandel offered a five-minute response about the free-enterprise system, government regulations and Greece before steering to an environmental regulation he has criticized Brown for supporting.

Five minutes of Palinizing everyone in the room. Five minutes without a real answer. Fives minutes clearly demonstrating you don’t really have any ideas.

But it got worse. They pushed – as good journalists should – for Josh to answer the damned question. Were they able to squeeze any substance from the boy candidate? Not exactly:

When he was asked again to answer the initial question, Mandel offered general remarks on regulations, energy production and the U.S. tax code. Twelve minutes after Mandel was asked what he would have done differently during the time of the bailout — and it had been suggested to him that he either did not have or was not offering an alternative — Mandel said: “You can write, ‘Josh’s plan would’ve been, and Josh’s plan continues to be, to reform regulations and create a better economic environment for auto manufacturing and manufacturing in general.’??”

Translation? Josh doesn’t have a fucking clue.

This is the problem with the modern GOP. They are either devoid of ideas while tossing out their evil librul voodoo talking points or they say whatever they think their current audience wants to hear in order to gain favor – completely forgetting the fact that they may have advocated the precise opposite not long ago.

Mitt Romney has this problem. Josh Mandel has this problem. It’s why one is harkening back to the birther days of 2007 and the other is accusing his opponent of being “un-American”. It’s disgusting and shameful, especially coming from someone who supposedly served his country honorably in the armed forces.

Josh can’t help it really. He’s part of the vacuous Tea Party Palin machine that shouts talking points and criticisms of those actually making progress without having the slightest idea of any policy implications contained in their rhetoric.

It’s sad, really, to see someone who clearly wants to be seen as honorable sink so low into such desperation.