My Old Kentucky Home

For years I’ve lamented my role in the career of the strategically brilliant, politically vile Mitch McConnell, the strangely-chinned, fleshy-faced Destro of contemporary American Politics. To recap for those of you who’ve not heard the story: during Mitch’s first political campaign —  for Jefferson County judge — I was evidently taken with the man. While my mother voted, leaving me in her mid-70s, baby-blue Mustang II, I hastily drew a picture of Mitch (very Howdy Doody-ish, as my father points out to this day) with “MITCH!” on it. When people would walk past the car, I would slap my campaign poster against the car’s window. He won; he’s never stopped winning. I fear my electioneering led directly to his longstanding success.

It gets worse.

According to Joshua Green’s smart & timely profile of McConnell in The Atlantic, that campaign was in 1977. I was born in 1974, which means my very first hazy, vague memory may be of campaigning for Mitch McConnell. Fuck and Alas. It’s my cross to bear, but I felt compelled to come clean, and publicly.

Anyway, Green does say of McConnell that:

The grim irony of his predicament is that by having been in Washington for 30 years, and having supported the bailout and congressional earmarks, he is viewed with contempt by the activist far right of his party, which has the momentum right now. For all his careful plotting and obstructing, McConnell has come under frequent criticism from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party for not doing more, not going further, not pulling down the pillars of the temple. And for all that he exemplifies the win-at-all-costs mentality that is the essence of the conservative mood, McConnell isn’t getting much credit.

Green gestures toward a political dynamic that’s not been noticed too much since the mid-term election: Kentucky as the single most potent testing ground for the future of the GOP. McConnell, nothing if not the emblem of traditional Republican power politics, and Rand Paul, great white hope of the Tea Party Nation, occupy the Commonwealth’s two senate seats.  In a recent essay in the sometimes misguided The New Republic, someone wrote that the recent re-emergence of the right should remind us that party politics has always been a zero sum game. Intra-party politics is the same. There have already been some contests between the two on the national stage — most notably on earmarks: point Paul — but not much attention had been paid to how the two senators electoral prospects and polling may well predict future Republican Party currents.

The Manchurian Campaigner's wheels.

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