Republicans on Tuesday pinned their hopes of winning back a Senate seat in Missouri ““ and perhaps control of the chamber ““ on Todd Akin, picking the conservative congressman to take on endangered Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November. If the Republican Party is to win the four seats it needs to take the Senate, it will almost certainly need to start by defeating McCaskill, who squeaked into the Senate six years ago in a Democratic wave in a state that has steadily shifted rightward since. – Republicans in Missouri pick Todd Akin to face Sen. Claire McCaskill in November

THIS WOULD BE funny if Missouri wasn’t such a hopeless wreck of a wingnut state at this point in time. The days of Missouri being a swing state are over. The state where I was born, raised, went to college and was Miss MO, always had a far right thread running through it, which is just one reason I knew I could never live there. It’s a beautiful place, but short on political sanity, especially where Republicans are concerned. If you have national aspirations and you’re a Democrat, you better be a dark Blue Dog.

That’s why a Democrat in Missouri looks and acts like Claire McCaskill, a Blue Dog Democrat whose trouble with Missourians really began with her private plane debacle. The Washington Post back when it blew sky high:

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s admission that she owes nearly $300,000 in back taxes on a plane she co-owned with her husband is the latest in a series of revelations regarding the aircraft that have complicated the Missouri Democrat’s already-difficult path to reelection in 2012. The tax revelations come roughly a week after McCaskill acknowledged using the plane for both official travel and purely political business while charging taxpayers for the flights. While McCaskill has reimbursed the government for the trips and self-reported the back taxes after an extensive internal audit of all 89 flights on the plane, it’s not clear whether that will be enough for her to weather the controversy.

The ad above was one of the efforts by McCaskill to pick her own opponent. That it worked is not only a miracle, because these tricks rarely do, but also her only chance of making a race out of it.

This race is representative of what’s happened in our national politics and the big two parties. Republicans are dragging the entire country to the right through Tea Party candidates, while F.D.R.-Truman Democrats are becoming extinct in the Obama era, replaced by Blue Dog conservatives who hold no resemblance of fealty to Democratic Party principles or philosophy. In the Obama era, the neoliberalism of William Jefferson Clinton has lurched even further right, with the help of the Tea Party, as well as progressives who won’t squeeze Pres. Obama on policy for their vote.

Give McCaskill credit for setting up the race in the only way she has a prayer. At least now she’s got a fighting chance, though she’s always been too much of a conservative opportunist for me.

Karl Rove and company will continue to dump negative ads into Missouri from now until November, so it’s going to be one of those races that if this woman wins she’ll be proven as the toughest broad to withstand the Republican machine in modern political history.

It’s almost enough to make you root for her, regardless of your politics. We need more women in Congress, in politics, and if tough, smart, ruthless women like McCaskill can’t hold on then the hopes of more women running get diminished by sheer fear of what can happen if they do.