The jury is still out over who secretly taped Coach McConnell and Team Mitch plotting to make political hay off Ashley Judd by letting Kentucky voters in on her depression, thoughts of suicide and religious views.
Allegedly, it was liberal Democrats at Progress Kentucky.
On the clandestine recording, made in February, the Bluegrass State’s senior senator and some of his campaign staffers discuss ways of derailing a Judd candidacy.
As it turned out, a preemptive strike wasn’t necessary. The Hollywood star-liberal activist decided not to come home to Kentucky and run against the Senate minority leader in 2014.
McConnell talks on the tape. So does an aide who says Judd “is emotionally unbalanced,” “has suffered some suicidal tendencies” and “was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the 90s.” Another helper chimes in that Judd is critical of “traditional Christianity.”
As soon as Mother Jones magazine broke the tape story earlier this month, McConnell started spinning it his way. Summoning the requisite righteous indignation, he protested that he was a mark for lefty dirty tricksters. He called in the G-men to hunt down the tapers.
Most of the media bought the poor innocent Mitch dodge. The story angle shifted to a whodunit.
Thus, McConnell has made chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what. But a Louisville Courier-Journal editorialist is not chowing down.
The tape “offers audio of staff laughing about the prospect of exploiting actress Ashley Judd’s bout with depression and childhood thoughts of suicide should she decide to run for U.S. Senate,” the senator’s hometown paper pointed out. “The contents of the audio are as despicable as they are damaging, leaving Mr. McConnell unable to defend them.
“Instead, he blustered he was the victim of ‘Watergate style’ bugging by left-leaning enemies and demanded an FBI investigation.”
The C-J, the Bluegrass State’s biggest paper, added, “Progress Kentucky — a political action group formed by a few activists for the sole purpose of unseating Mr. McConnell — through its clumsy stumbling has played right into his hands, helping establish him as the victim he badly wants to be.”
There’s more: “Meanwhile, Mr. McConnell has masterfully diverted public attention from the offensive content of the tape — which is the real story here — to his outrage over how it was obtained. McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton called the tactics ‘comparable only to Richard Nixon’s efforts to bug Democratic Party Headquarters.’”
And more: “But how it was obtained — reportedly by at least one member of Progress Kentucky recording it outside the closed door of the McConnell campaign meeting — falls short of the ‘Watergate style’ bugging Mr. McConnell and staff conjured up.
“In fact, the efforts of Progress Kentucky made the bungled, 1972 Republican break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters look downright professional. It would be as comic as some of the political blogs observed if it weren’t so sad.”
Even sadder, especially to this old reporter, are news hounds who keep gobbling Coach Mac’s special chicken salad.
Don’t get me wrong. The who, what, when, where, why and how of the recording is an important part of the story, too. It should be pursued vigorously.
If laws were broken, the guilty should be punished. That goes for Team Mitch.
Huffington Post reports that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants the Senate ethics committee and the FBI to look into whether Coach Mac was holding skull practice about possible Judd vulnerabilities on government time.
CREW says if the senator and his staffers were on Uncle Sam’s dime, they broke the law.
Anyway, reporters would do well to skip the chicken salad and start asking, Where’s the beef? The main course should be about McConnell’s politics of slime and smear.
Sunday, 14 April 2013