Dave Weigel, at BloombergPolitics, on “the GOP’s Darth Vader“:
Last month, The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis published a meaty e-book biography of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who’s on track to run the Senate after this November’s elections. Since then, McConnell’s bid for re-election has maintained a very small lead over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, but the press has looked for ways to find a pulse in the McConnell campaign and an open grave for the Democrats… Coverage of this race has often rewarded McConnell for his winningness and savvy, so I contacted MacGillis with a few questions about the politician and the portrait he declined to sit for.
DW: Right now, the political world is having a laugh over Alison Lundergan Grimes’s insistence on not admitting that she voted for Obama. I look at that and ask why she’s within spitting distance of McConnell when Obama lost the state by a bigger margin than Walter Mondale. McConnell always wins, but why does he always have a race?
AM: Exactly right. This shouldn’t be a race. Kentucky went for Mitt Romney by 23 points, all but one member of its congressional delegation is Republican, and McConnell’s sway as one of the most powerful people in Washington is still an asset even in the post-earmark era: for a state that’s used to being looked down on, it means something to have one of its own running the show. And he’s had 30 years to build a relationship with voters.
But that’s just it — he doesn’t have that relationship. He is so unnatural a politician that he hasn’t developed that reservoir of goodwill that a Robert Byrd had in West Virginia or Jack Warner had in Virginia. When McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984 (by a mere 5,000 votes in a year when Reagan won the state by nearly 300,000), Rep. Gene Snyder, a conservative who was McConnell’s first boss in Washington, was overheard remarking that Kentuckians had just elected to the Senate someone who had fewer friends in the state than “anybody elected to anything.” And that hasn’t really changed with time. Even in a state as Republican as Kentucky, familiarity has bred contempt more than affection. Kentuckians have watched from afar as McConnell climbed the ladder in Washington, and many of them, even ones who lean Republican, have been left with the sense that it’s all been about him, not them…
… It was indeed a revelation to me just how liberal McConnell had been in his early years… It’s hard to overstate how far he’s swung. This is someone who turned out for pro-civil rights rallies in college; who as a Senate staffer wrote the RNC with advice on how to go about “convincing Blacks and other minority groups in the country the Republican Party is a logical home”… who got the endorsement of the AFL-CIO in his first race, in 1977, by supporting collective bargaining for public employees; who repeatedly snuffed out anti-abortion legislation while he was county executive in Louisville; who opposed Reagan in both the ’76 and ’80 primaries.
Now, of course, he rails against unions, has twice voted against immigration reform (in 2007 and last year), appeared at CPAC last spring waving a rifle in the air; and a few months later declared to the National Right to Life Convention that “Kentucky is proudly pro-life.” It’s hard to find someone who more closely tracks the transformation of that party over the past three decades–which, for me, was part of the intellectual appeal of taking him on as a subject…
DW: On every page of the book or so there’s some McConnell acquaintance saying the guy had no friends. How did he end up taking over the GOP conference? Why, when it came down to it, was his only potential opponent Larry Craig?
AM: It’s like the sports cliche: he wanted it more than anyone else. He’s like Harry Reid in this regard: all he’s ever dreamed of is climbing in the Senate, unlike the other 98 senators who think they might someday become president. He actually failed in his first couple bids to move up the ladder, twice losing out to Phil Gramm to head the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But then he started gaming things out like Tracy Flick, sending Bob Bennett out as a wing-man months or even years before leadership elections to gauge support and bad-mouth possible rivals… It didn’t hurt that a lot of senators knew they owed McConnell for the dirty work he’d done in fighting campaign finance reform on their party’s behalf. He became the Darth Vader on that issue so that they could keep the money flowing, and earned their undying gratitude for that…
That’s the thing about turtles — they’re survivors. If you don’t mind breathing through your cloaca and urinating through your mouth, you too can survive a marginal environment for millenia…
“As opposed as through your happyfunjoy organs?” the turtle retorted.
Sounds just like the kind of guy I’d like to be Senate Majority Leader because someone won’t say Obama’s name out loud to a gotcha question.
Sometimes, a leader doesn’t need charm, charisma, or a grand idea…..just a solid right hook, a pointy shiv, and the will to use both.
@Keith G: Harry Reid?
@efgoldman: Medicare for all.
@efgoldman: from what I gathered on the debate coverage, there are two things that Grimes can easily turn into commercials to pound McConnell with. First is his stupid “we can keep Kynet but get rid of Obamacare” – seriously, it’s time to tell
the kids that there’s no Easter BunnyKentucky that Kynet is Obamacare. Second is when she said that McConnell has been out for himself and billionaires, not ordinary Kentuckians and when the moderator asked if he would like to respond, McConnell said “no.”
Mike in NC
@efgoldman: If it came down to taking away healthcare from thousands of their neighbors, or symbolically sticking it to That One in the Oval Office, I think I know which way millions of Americans would go.
@efgoldman: that’s not fair, McCain-Fiengold was a grand idea, if you had a couple of drinks, squinted, and tilted your head just right.
@KG: Beside the drinking that’s the treatment for my BPPV!
“My friends and fellow Kentuckians, what I am about to say troubles me greatly and I wish it did not have to be said. Nevertheless, my duty to this great state and this great nation compels me to speak out. Many of my friends and neighbors – as, indeed, I am sure many of your friends and neighbors – are fine, upstanding Chelonian-Americans. But we must ask, is the country ready to have the United States Senate, the world’s greatest deliberative body, headed by a turtle? Can we feel truly comfortable with a leader who urinates through his mouth? In a time when our nation faces grave threats and challenges, can we trust an official of high standing who breathes through his ass? How are we to know that he doesn’t talk out of it as well?”
I am not ready to anoint McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader until after the elections are over and the votes are counted.
I hope he doesn’t get become Majority Leader, mainly because these next 2 years are his last realistic shot (IMO), and I think he could very well cry on television if that happens. What do turtle tears taste like? Inquiring minds want to fantasize.
@efgoldman: A bit?!
@schrodinger’s cat: Come on, get with it
Chic – Le Freak
This is election is weird. Senate control is a coin flip. Democrats that shouldn’t be anywhere are in striking distance and it appears there’s a ton of new, Democratically oriented, voters sending in early ballots. Less than 42% turnout is the historic standard for mid-terms. If Dems can GOTV and raise the rate by a couple of percentage points we could see some real surprises on November 4th.
@efgoldman: You spoke of great ideas. I think that was one. “What did the President know…?” isn’t legislation either. So there. Ha, I’ve run circles around you logically.
In my experience getting a Senator to sit down & shut up is The Problem.
All we are going to see is the upteenth vote to abolish the ACA and maybe an impeachment. What else has McConnell have that’s appealing to rank and file Republicans.
Also, I can’t imagine Ted Cruz not going nuclear if Republicans have a majority and convincing more than a few of his colleagues to follow him down the rabid hole.
EDIT: Two years of Cruz led craziness might actually be great for Dems in 2016.
@efgoldman: Well, actually, old penguin on the telly Monty Python episodes.
I can’t stop watching this VINE and giggling. If it was possible to love Michelle Obama anymore than I do, this might do it… :-}
I believe that the WH had a VINE chat with FLOTUS today.
1. I suspect that was actually Fred Thompson’s idea.
2. Ted Kennedy’s hectoring the Senate in favor of an increase in the minimum wage — not a “grand idea”?
3. And would you count Obama’s decision to seek the presidency?
Dallas Ebola Updates: Nurse’s Condition Upgraded to “Good,” Duncan’s Contacts All Symptom-Free
Disappointing news for Glenn Beck.
If we pull this off, I think I’ll be happier than I was in 2008 and 2012, when I wasn’t surprised by the result.
If we lived in a sane country I would be saying ‘I can’t believe all these middle of the road Democrats are losing to these Republicans!’
We stopped being a sane country back during Clinton’s terms.
Rove would definitely be urinating through his mouth if the Dem’s hold the Senate (we should be so lucky, but I don’t see the Senate as a coinflip; maybe 1 in 5)….
ETA: It’s all about turnout and Tighty Righties will turnout.
Thompson was not a Senator then, you’re right. He was Howard Baker’s pick to be the Committee’s Republican investigative counsel. I suspect he came up with the line Baker used. He’s also famously the one who asked poor Alexander Butterfield about the recording system.
OK, but I was referring to the hectoring Ted did in his last years.
Here I think you’re grossly underestimating the particular difficulties Obama faced …
@kindness: and completely lost our shit on 9/11… We’ve not got our shit together since
dKos alert but here’s and the fact the GOP is shifting money into deep red states are two grounds for hope. Another is the GOP is doing their usual Top/Down strategy of buying the election through the airwaves while the Democrats are spending on GOTV.
oh bollocks. Went over the FYWP three link Rule. Can some kind soul release me from moderation?
Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium has been fairly consistently running the Dems hold chances at 50%. Or a coin flip.
I agree it’s all about GOTV, the results of which we can’t predict.
Dallas nurses: ‘There were no protocols’ for Ebola.
There’s also a test: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ofUZNynYXzM
Not surprising. Between the GOP and MBAs the US Health infrastructure is wrecked. My guess is the people who used to do that kind of job in the Federal Government have been sequestered by the first and those in the private sector fired by the latter.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
I’m trying to figure out how to define the target audience for my novel. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the last year or so and I haven’t made much progress on it. It’s a coming of age story about a young woman who survived a childhood in foster care, including one abusive foster parent, and plays hockey. She’s smart and goes on to get a masters in computer science.
Based just on the description I’ve had a couple of people say that it might work as YA, though I definitely don’t think it should be limited to that. But beyond that, I really don’t have a good feel for what kind of person might like it. I just don’t. But we’re reaching the point where I have to make some decisions.
I’d like some evidence that we were ever a sane country before accepting that claim.
You want Texas to regulate a hospital?
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
YA titles aren’t just for young adults these days. Just look at Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, or our own Frankensteinbeck’s Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain.
@Anoniminous: I work in the Microbiology laboratory. So I work with some pretty bad and contagious public health bugs. The first thing you learn when working in a lab is about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and the whole concept of using Universal Precautions.
Ebola precautions involved added precautions to be sure, but use of Universal Precautions has been in effect since the 80s and AIDS epidemic.
So protocols specific to Ebola, may be not, but the concept of Universal Precautions can still lower possibility of transmission.
This is basically gonna end up being a case where everyone at Presby Dallas will try to point the finger at everybody else. Particularly since the whole ER team dropped the ball on the treatment of Mr Duncan at the first ER visit. I mean the guy had a 103F fever. No one lets a patient leave the ER with a 103F.
White People Support Voter ID Laws More After Seeing Black People Voting
ByDaniel StraussPublishedOctober 14, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT 4550 views
Support among white Americans for voter ID laws increases when that question is asked alongside of a photo of African Americans voting, according to a new study.
The new University of Delaware study found that 67 percent of white Americans supported voter ID laws after the question was posed to them with text only or accompanied by a photo of white people voting. But that number increased to 73 percent when the same question is asked with an accompanying photo of African-Americans voting.
“Our findings suggest that public opinion about voter ID laws can be racialized by simply showing images of African American people,” David C. Wilson, who helped supervise the study, said. “The resulting increase in support for the laws happens independently of —even after controlling for— political ideology and negative attitudes about African Americans.”
The spike, from 67 percent to 73 percent, may not be huge but it’s still statistically significant, The Washington Post noted. While there was an increase among white Americans who were asked about their support for voter ID laws, an accompanying picture of black people voting did not cause African Americans or Hispanic voters to show stronger support for voter ID law
One other thing that’s irritating me about this midterm is Thad Cochran in Mississippi. Why didn’t Dem leaders and candidates take a lesson and try a GOTV of AA voters by emphasizing the regressive nature of so many Republicans plans for this country; voter rights, abortion, gay rights? Doing away with the ACA is massively unpopular with black voters, and hey, what about impeaching Obama? Stop saying Dems don’t turn out for midterms as if it’s set in stone and try and change it.
Please don’t denigrate the Testudinata by suggesting they have any relationship to Republicans. Compared to the GOP, even slime molds are higher life forms.
Why the hell has the DSCC pulled ads and money out of Kentucky? I thought polling was close. This is yet another reason they don’t get any money from me.
Between Republicans and the University of Maryland, turtles run in some pretty disreputable company.
Also too: between the Fifth Circuit and the Kansas City Royals, I am in quite a mood right now.
@Hal: AA voters made a calculated decision to vote for Thad.
Do you wish to deny them their collective agency? Or say they did not know what they were doing?
OK well some of you question if we were ever sane & when we changed. America has always been a rebellious child. Always. We draped ourselves in a veneer of quiet responsible respectability. It was always a facade. Otherwise we never would have told King George to go fuck himself. As a nation we’ve done wonderful and horrible things. I guess the sanity is the eye of the beholder. We are still children. As a late boomer I am constantly embarrassed that my generation lost their way. Threw out the good things and embraced money. We became our parents. And worse, we taught our children that selfishness was a good thing. So what has become the Republican party isn’t so far fetched. My generation pushed it there. It had help but it’s an ugly picture.
Pockets of sanity. Small areas of goodness. That’s what we have now. The rest of the country? Might as well have been hit by a Zombie virus. The Walking Dead & the Koch brothers aren’t all that different. Thank God we’ve got the web. Cause with it we can be in any one of those far flung sane places and talk to others who share our notions. We know we aren’t alone. One can only have influence on small slices. Make those slices count. It’s all up to all of us.
Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason
@burnspbesq: As a U MD grad and Orioles fan I find myself in quite the opposite mood, thankyewverymuch.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: I’m almost glad the Tigers lost in the last round so that they aren’t getting run over by the Kansas City Steamroller of Doom. That’s now ten postseason victories in a row for the Royals.
@kindness: Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, etc., are rife with assholes and racists too. Because of our governmental system we may well look worse now, but other countries have had and will have their shitty moments.
This sumabitch should be tired of being visited by FBI/SS
NRA Board Member Ted Nugent Calls For The Assassination Of President Obama
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): I am a HUGE baseball fan. That it can be all MO in the finals is not lost on me.
@lamh36: NYC’s 11 hospitals have been updating and changing their protocol for treatment of Ebola and other diseases. I believe that last week they included nurses working in pairs to be more sure that protocols were followed. The private hospitals in NYC tend to follow what Health & Hospitals Corp. makes official policy in these matters. NYC wants to be prepared in the event of an Ebola patient showing up here.
@lamh36: Honestly, I couldn’t find a threat to the president in Nugent’s post. To me, it was pure gibberish. OTOH, I would not be surprised if he was calling for Obama’s assassination and I would be perfectly comfortable with the SS having a quiet conversation with him.
And to think McConnell is just Kentucky’s second-worst senator.
@Tommy: Any chance of that link to show that people other than ALG get asked about their previous presidential votes? ‘Cause it is totally a common question. Right?
The Cardinals bullpen is starting to look like the Dodgers (a.k.a. The Arsonists) relievers.
@Omnes Omnibus: I can’t remember or think of an example of a politician being asked who they voted for for president.
@The Dangerman: The Giants are a good team. I won’t belittle them. But our bullpen was a strength for us this year. Not so much now when we need it the most.
Seems to me that Grimes will take heat for this not saying who she voted for thing — but if she did say who she voted for, the obvious follow-up question is “How do you feel about that now, proud, or disappointed?” And either one of those leads to an even harsher ad. Sometimes you have to let the other guys score a late TD so that you can get the ball back.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@The Dangerman: Wait, what? Today the Cardinals’ pen went 3 IP, allowing 1 run, 1 hit, and 1 walk. In Game 2, the relievers went 3 1/3 IP, allowing 2 runs, 4 hits, and 3 walks. In Game 1, it was 4 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits, and 1 walk.
Total line for the series: 10 1/3 IP; 3 runs; 7 hits; 5 walks.
If Cardinals fans are going to start pointing fingers, they should do it at the offense.
@PurpleGirl: Tommy claims “everybody” is asked it:
The comment was in the context of discussing politicians being asked the question so the “everybody” likely refers to politicians. I can’t think of politicians being asked it either. I think it’s a stupid question and goes against the idea of a secret ballot, which we have in this country. No one is obligated to say who they voted for and the press asking the question is just wrong.
I was in Hohumbia for the last I-70 series. In fact, when Mary and I got arrested at the Blue Note for undocumented drinking her cop was cool and talked about the series. My cop wouldn’t even turn on the siren to take us in. (They split us into separate cars, because god knows what troublemakers like we were would have got up to in the back of a police car.)
@PurpleGirl: @Violet: I know. I am just asking Tommy to support his assertion.
@Omnes Omnibus: I asked him as well in the thread below.
How’s that Senate race in Iowa going? This seems like suspicious timing:
@Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:
You misunderstand. I am in quite a foul mood. The reference to the Fifth Circuit should have been the tell.
@efgoldman: and @Hal:
Understandably, you are not thinking like racists. To a fine old Kentucky Gentleman, removing the negro from the premises IS protecting the dignity of the Senate. There is nothing, nothing more degrading to a traditional Southerner of breeding than to be publicly displayed as the equal of a darky.
Anybody want to bet that the cause of the crash turns out to be an uncertified part that failed?
Steve Kornacki had the SD Dem Sen candidate on this weekend. I noticed when he talked about voting he said he voted for “him” and what “he” stood for never mentioning Obama by name. I don’t know if Grimes could have somehow figured out an answer in that fashion. It just shows how stupid voters are and how stupid politics is. Kornacki had Larry Pressler on as well. He went after Pressler for renting an apartment in Sioux Falls and owning a home in D.C. Pressler had to explain to him twice that he had a farm in a rural area too far from Sioux Falls to commute daily for the campaign so he had rented an apartment temporarily. The house in D.C. is apparently for his wife who has a business in DC before they got married.Really? This is what passes for political coverage and political campaign ads nowadays?
WTF? But now you’re 7 points further back, and even if you successfully use your opportunity having the ball back to score a TD yourself, you still have to kick it off to the other team.
A professional foul committed against the other team in basketball or soccer make better respective analogies.
@Frankensteinbeck: Unless, I suppose, it’s being placed belowone.
That’s gotta sting.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
In Game 2, the Cardinals closer (Rosenthal?) looked pretty bad; he got replaced and no damage was done, but couple that performance with Choate throwing the game away today…
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@The Dangerman: Two bad innings isn’t exactly the Dodgers bullpen. Again, I’d put a lot more of it on the Cards’ 3-4-5 hitters being 4-for-33 with an OBP under .225 and a slugging percentage under .250. That’s your problem, not the bullpen.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
Didn’t say it did; my exact words were starting to look like the Dodgers bullpen. Looking exactly like the Dodgers Bullpen might be physically impossible outside of Detroit.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@The Dangerman: Two innings out of ten means that your bullpen doesn’t in any way resemble that of the Dodgers. For the whole postseason, your relievers’ ERA is under 3. That means that they are not the problem.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
Two innings out of 10 are pretty damned important when they are the LAST innings in both game 2 and 3; it cost them today and almost cost them in Game 2. They should consider themselves lucky not to be in an 0-3 hole like the Orioles.
I agree that hitting is a problem, too, but, in the postseason, it is all about the pitching (and, generally, good pitching shuts down good hitting; hell, Kershaw was pitching a 1 hitter in Game 4).
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
This is a bad way to look at it. If Gonzales, Neshek, or Maness doesn’t come through earlier in the game, there is no 10th inning. And, in terms of looking like the Dodgers, this has it exactly backwards. Kenley Jansen locked down the final inning for them; it was everything before that that the L.A. pen set on fire.
Overall, your bullpen has been fine. To the extent that it has a problem, it’s specific: Randy Choate is supposed to get lefties out and he hasn’t been doing that. Rosenthal has also been pretty lousy in the playoffs, but your middle relief (Gonzales, Maness, Neshek, Martinez) has been lights out and has been a key in three of your four wins.
This is complete and total bullshit that is not in any way supported by actual evidence.
The problem with the Cardinals is the fans wearing “I am Darren Wilson” t shirts.
You came within a single letter of working in the name of Hall of Fame quarterback. Well played!
re: Cardinals bullpen the reason or the team offense output.
I would respectfully suggest The Giants aren’t slouches. Both teams are scrappy fighters and so far it’s the Giants who are ahead. I never expected this to be the Giants year as they teetered all season but it seems they’re pulling it together when it counts. The bandwagon is still open for business and to their credit, Giants fans aren’t wearing the abominadble t-shirts supporting executioner cops.
Bob In Portland
Speaking of turtles, has anyone been following the Nazi demonstrations in Ukraine, asking for war criminals to get pensions for their role in killing Jews and Poles?
Which side will benefit (in Iowa) in the election from Butzier’s demise?
(vaguely related, the Greens are polling about 10% in the NY State governor’s race, Cuomo vs Astorino.)