Forget the Food Fight, Mitch and Matt Are Kindred Spirits

McConnell_Bevin_350The Mitch McConnell-Matt Bevin food fight for the Kentucky GOP senate nomination reminds me of Macbeth’s famous soliloquy:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.”

In other words, Macbeth, henpecked to homicide by his spouse and facing his deserved doom, has concluded that life is mostly meaningless, like the role of a second-rate actor in a third-rate play. With apologies to The Bard, it’s not a stretch to substitute “the McConnell-Bevin food fight” for “life,” especially the “sound and fury/Signifying nothing” part.

Despite their noisy campaigns, Sen. McConnell and his tea party-tilting challenger agree fundamentally on almost every issue. Yet they are making a birdcage liner of their hero Ronald Reagan’s famous “11th Commandment,” which admonishes, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”

“Never before in U.S. political history has a sitting party leader lost a primary election, but never in our history has it been so important that one does,” Bevin blasted McConnell in a speech the other day, according to The Huffington Post.

“Kentuckians aren’t buying the traveling salesman’s laughable pitch that the New England finance man is a Kentucky conservative,” a McConnell flak fired back in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, HP reported. (Bevin’s family owns a Bell factory in Connecticut and he was a financial consultant in Boston and Philadelphia before migrating to Kentucky.)

A former McConnell staffer who is on the payroll at the Republican National Senatorial Committee couldn’t resist piling on Bevin. He tweeted a stand-up comedy routine by funnyman Jon Lovitz, HP also said.

“I’m a member of Pathological Liars Anonymous,” Lovitz yaks. “In fact, I’m the founder of that organization, yeah that’s it.”

In response, a Bevin mouthpiece emailed the HP: “It’s incredibly disappointing that Mitch McConnell’s campaign continues to act as if this is a race for 8th grade class President, but we expect nothing more from their sophomoric campaign.”

Even, so the rival candidates are singing from the same page of the hymnbook on almost every issue.

If President Obama and the Democrats are for something, McConnell and Bevin are almost always against it – and vice versa.

McConnell and Bevin’s ideal country is one run by well-heeled, right-wing white guys like them.

McConnell and Bevin hate unions.

They hate the Affordable Care Act.

They hate virtually all government regulations on business, such as those that protect workers’ lives and limbs on the job, safeguard consumers against shoddy and dangerous products and shield the environment against polluters.

They are devout social Darwinists who essentially believe that people are made poor by their own shortcomings.

Berry CraigThey believe that government’s role is to stand idly by while rich people get as greedy and rich as they want no matter the dire consequences to the rest of us who live a long way from Easy Street.
They think a strong social safety net of public assistance for the needy and unemployment insurance for the jobless just makes people lazy.

So the McConnell-Bevin bash boils down to a battle of style, not substance. With Bevin, all Kentucky gets is a younger, maybe more telegenic, McConnell. Either way, the working people of my state lose big time.

Berry Craig

Published by the LA Progressive on January 13, 2014
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.