A Republican congressman on Tuesday night acknowledged that the new law requiring a photo ID to vote in Wisconsin could help Republican candidates at the polls in the general election. "I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up. And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well," Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), a supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), told Milwaukee television station TMJ4 when asked how either Cruz or Donald Trump could win in November.
Rep. Glenn Grothman, a freshman Republican congressman from Wisconsin, was already well known for his right-wing ideology. The GOP lawmaker, for example, has argued against equal-pay legislation by saying, "You could argue that money is more important for men." He's also criticized sex-ed classes because, as Grothman put it, some gay teachers "would like it if more kids became homosexuals."
Now, however, the Wisconsin Republican is likely to be known for something new. TPM reported this morning:
The full report from the local NBC affiliate is online here.
This is what some in the business call a Michael Kinsley Moment: making a mistake by accidentally telling the truth.
The line Republicans and proponents of voter-suppression tactics are supposed to take is that voter-ID policies have nothing to do with partisanship or affecting the outcome of elections, and everything to do with the integrity of the voting process. "We're not trying to disenfranchise Democrats," GOP officials say, "that's just the accidental byproduct of our policies."
The argument is obviously untrue, but at least in public, Republicans are supposed to pretend that the talking points have merit.
Except, Grothman forgot to stick to the script. He's not the first.
Back in June 2012, a Republican leader in the Pennsylvania legislature boasted that a voter-ID law was "gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."
The policy was later rejected in the courts, but the confession was nevertheless memorable: here was a leading Republican state lawmaker acknowledging, out loud and in public, that he saw a voter-ID statute as an electoral tool that would give his party a boost.
And last night, in display of accidental candor, a Wisconsin congressman effectively said the same thing.
It's something to keep in mind the next time a voting-rights opponent tries to keep up the pretense that voter-ID laws aren't partisan schemes.
* Update: The folks at Right Wing Watch flagged some other notable examples of accidental candor on this issue.