Oz has changed his entire position on the political spectrum. First he’s 100 percent a Trumpster. Then, almost overnight, he turns his back on Trump.

I wasn’t born yesterday. In fact, I’ve been around for 74 years, so I’ve seen a lot of elections come and go. I am fully cognizant of the facts of American political campaigning. I’ve seen candidates flip-flop like fish out of water. I understand that in American politics there is no such thing as “the high road,” that every campaign finally descends into innuendo, smear tactics, distortions, and outright lies.

But I recently saw a campaign ad on television that literally took my breath away, the audacity of it truly awe-inspiring, though not in an uplifting way. It was Pennsylvania Republican senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz proclaiming, “Extremism on both sides makes things worse.” And then he proceeded to portray himself as a perfectly reasonable moderate middle-of-the-roader who would help working families, lower taxes, promote community, reduce crime, and an assortment of other things that most reasonable moderate voters actually want.

The problem with this is that I lived through the Pennsylvania Republican primary election last winter and spring. And in that campaign, Oz vigorously presented himself as the most MAGA of all the candidates running.

Even before he received Donald Trump’s endorsement in April 2022, Oz’s campaign ads regularly featured Trump, presenting Trump as Oz’s fellow traveller and philosophical soulmate. After he received Trump’s endorsement, Oz flooded the media with images of Oz and Trump together, Oz just behind Trump’s right shoulder, Trump’s right-hand man.

Oz’s Twitter account mentioned Trump seventy times between April 9th and primary election day on May 17th. Both Oz’s Twitter account and his Facebook account repeatedly reminded people that Oz was “endorsed by Trump” and “Trump-endorsed.” The ads he bought on Google and Facebook were heavily Trump-focused.

But here’s the amazing thing: ever since Oz won the Pennsylvania primary confirming him as the Republican candidate for the US Senate, Oz has not made a single mention of Trump on Twitter. His campaign literature now says “Thank You Pennsylvania” instead of “Endorsed by Trump,” and carries a solo photo of Oz instead of a photo of Oz and Trump together. His Twitter biography no longer says "Trump Endorsed Candidate for U.S. Senate," and his general election ad says only “The PA Senate Race will determine who has the majority. Donate to take back the US Senate.”

In a recent debate with John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for US Senate, Oz made a big deal of Fetterman’s change of opinion on support for fracking. Apparently, Fetterman has changed his opinion on this single issue. Meanwhile, Oz has changed his entire position on the political spectrum. First he’s 100 percent a Trumpster. Then, almost overnight, he turns his back on Trump and now pretends he’s never even heard of the guy.

So who is the Republican nominee for the open US Senate seat from Pennsylvania? The perfectly reasonable moderate middle-of-the-roader? Or the proud ally of Donald Trump?

I realize that some people reading this believe Donald Trump is the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, and just what this country needs. I can’t begin to argue with such people, for whom facts, science, and reality bear no relationship to their personal views and political opinions.

Some people apparently believe that it’s okay to grab women by their genitals, publicly mock disabled people, cozy up to dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, subvert the Constitutional electoral process by any means possible, and say of the soldiers buried in Arlington, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

Those people, I’m sad to say, are beyond any reasonable argument I can give them that Donald Trump is not fit to be president, and I’m sure their opinion of me is nothing I’d share with my mother.

But any candidate who proudly announces that he’s been endorsed by Donald Trump ought to be viewed with a healthy skepticism by anyone and everyone else who plans to go to the polls on November 8th.

Apparently, Mehmet Oz agrees with me. After gaining enough of the MAGA Trumpster votes to win the Republican party’s nomination, he has ever since been trying to get you and me to forget that he ever had any connection to Donald Trump.

He’s just a perfectly reasonable moderate middle-of-the-roader who lived and voted in New Jersey as recently as 2020, owns an $18 million mansion in Florida, regularly touts health care products with no medical evidence to support their benefits and even in some cases going against medical research, but only wants the best for ordinary work-a-day Pennsylvanians.

So who is the man behind the curtain in the Emerald City? I hope we don’t have to find out the hard way.

This commentary is also posted on LA Progressive.

BC Guest Commentator Dr. W. D. Ehrhart, PhD received the Purple Heart Medal and the Navy Combat Action Ribbon for his service in Vietnam. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wales at Swansea. His most recent book is Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems (McFarland, 2019).

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