Tuesday, April 09, 2013


First of all, do you people seriously think it's going to hurt Mitch McConnell that his opposition researchers considered attacking Ashley Judd for having experienced emotional problems, as reported on a leaked strategy tape obtained by Mother Jones? Look, this is a really, really Republican state we're talking about. This is a state where Barack Obama lost in 2012 by 22 points. Do you know how Republicans talk about their political enemies? Have you read the comments in any online thread about, say, Michelle Obama?

And please note that McConnell himself is not the person who brought this up (it's an unnamed strategist identified only as "Presenter" in the MJ transcript), nor was this information ever used (the Karl Rove attack ad that targeted Judd in February didn't mention it). What was used in that ad is exactly what a Democrat would use against a Republican. Judd was considering a run in Kentucky, but has said she considers Tennessee home? Tell me Dems wouldn't similarly attack Scott Brown if he really went through with rumored plans to run for Senate in New Hampshire. Judd calls herself "progressively and delightfully radical"? Recall the Democrats' use of Mitt Romney's reference to himself as "severely conservative." John Cole's reaction is right: So, In Other Words, It Was Going to be a Normal Political Campaign.

But McConnell -- until now a hack with a 36% approval rating in his very red state -- now gets to be what he hasn't managed to be, given that he's an Establishment figure in a tea-besotted party: he gets to be a martyr/hero, a victim of evil liberalism. That's catnip to GOP voters.

Dave Weigel shows how he's working it:
The Senate Republicans' weekly post-lunch press conference stuck to the issues of a week until near the end, when a reporter asked about the "secret tape" of a Kentucky campaign session....

"Well," said McConnell at the presser, "as you know, last month my wife's ethnicity was attacked by a left-wing group in Kentucky. And then, apparently, they also bugged my headquarters. So I think that pretty well sums up the way the political left is operating in this country."

The reporter tried to get to the sticky parts of the tape. "Is it fair game," he asked, "for you to question someone's mental health, or their religious sensibilities, in a strategy session like that."

McConnell hit replay. "Yeah, as I indicated, last month they were attacking my wife's ethnicity, and then apparently, unbeknownst to us at the time, they were bugging our headquarters. A quite Nixonian move. This is what you get from the political left in America."

The reporter tried to follow up. McConnell spun the remix. "As I indicated, last week (sic) they were attacking my wife's ethnicity, and apparently also bugging my headquarters, much like Nixon and Watergate. That's what the political left does this days." ...
I think it's good to have the tape out there, but if McConnell is getting martyrdom points for it from the wingnut base, it's working more to his advantage than his disadvantage.

The other incident McConnell refers to was an unforced error -- a stupid move:
Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign on Tuesday accused a liberal group of "race-baiting," after the organization, Progress Kentucky, charged that his Taiwan-born wife, Elaine Chao, had helped send American jobs to China during two terms as labor secretary....
So now he's a victim of unspeakable liberal evil -- and he's fighting back! I bet you his poll numbers go up.


Victor said...

Holy Sh*T!!!

The Daily Double!

Mitch "Yertle, The Anti-gay, Gay Turtle" McConnell gets to accuse that his beard of a wife was being targeted by DEMONcRATS, AND that it was the DEMONcRATS who were the ones who bugged his office, exactly like Nixon did his own office, an...

Wait, gotta fix that last part!!!

Unknown said...

What you want to bet that McConnell leaked the tape himself?

Julia Grey said...

Well, Josh Marshall (I think it was him) has this "bitch slap" theory about politics that holds that politicians gain points when they show that they are prepared to "bitch slap" their opponents without fear of the consequences.

It shows strength, see?

So, if McConnell wanted to illustrate that he was capable of playing REALLY hard ball with Ashley Judd (or anyone else), plus give himself a martyrdom boost, he might indeed have at least turned a blind eye to someone releasing such a recording, and at best, done himself a Karl Rove ratfking-style favor by outright authorizing it.

Julia Grey said...

Actually, now that I think about it, I believe Marshall's theory worked the other way around...that a politcian was doomed if he allowed himself to be "bitch slapped" by his opponent, however one defines that term.

But the way I put it could be a corollary to that. Show you're a mean mfer behind the scenes and could go scorched-earth if you had a mind to, and Republicans and other macho-poisoned portions of the electorate (including women thrilled by such things) will ADMIRE you.

"Boy, that guy's got some brass ones!" Etc.