[dc]"M[/dc]itch McConnell's a guy who's made a cottage industry out of hatred for the president of the United States," says Kentucky State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, a Democrat.
A lot of Kentuckians buy what the Senator is selling.
Many of them are white folks who still can’t get over the fact that the country elected, then re-elected, an African American president. More than a few of these white folks live a long way from Easy Street.
McConnell is a millionaire whose politics are calculated to make the rich richer.
He despises unions. He’s for keeping tax breaks for American companies that move factories to cheap labor countries.
He loathes government programs that help anybody who needs help. He’d love to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and, of course, deep six the Affordable Care Act.
He hates laws that do things like protect workers’ lives and limbs on the job, shield the environment against polluters and ensure the products we consume are safe.
At the same time, McConnell is all for lavishing hefty tax breaks on rich people like himself and on big corporations while tossing tax crumbs to working stiffs like me.
McConnell wins elections largely by making political hay off multitudes of my fellow Kentuckians who are of modest means and who benefit from the very government programs he wants to wipe out.
You’d think it would be mission impossible to get people to vote against their own interests. But with McConnell it has often been mission accomplished.
Sen. Mitch McConnell is a master at dog whistle politics. He is also the pied piper of pandering to what one of my union buddies calls “the four Gs – God, guns, gays and government.”
The senator is a master at dog whistle politics. He is also the pied piper of pandering to what one of my union buddies calls “the four Gs – God, guns, gays and government.”
The other day, he blew his whistle on a campaign stop in deeply conservative deep western Kentucky, where I was born, reared and still live. McConnell is ever linking Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants his job, to President Obama, who collected only about 38 percent of the vote. (My wife, son and I are among the 38 percenters.)
McConnell declared “our liberal president” is leading “a jihad” against coal, according to The Guardian’s Susan Goldenberg.
No doubt, McConnell knew his listeners would get the jihad jab. He was in a county that is more than 98 percent white. Many, if not most, of the locals go to Protestant fundamentalist churches.
Joseph Gerth, a Louisville Courier-Journal columnist, read Goldenberg’s story and called McConnell’s hand:
���The Arabic word for holy war, used in connection with a president who a sizable percentage of Americans incorrectly believe is Muslim, and about whom critics gleefully use his full name — Barack Hussein Obama — to underscore that incorrect impression.”
McConnell works overtime to create incorrect impressions of the president and of Grimes who has, by the way, distanced herself from Obama’s policies on coal.
“The most likely way McConnell will try to bring Grimes down is by associating her with Obama, and already he has attacked her on Obamacare and the president’s ‘war on coal,’” Jason Zingerle predicted in Politico months ago.
McConnell has always been good at gulling not-so-well-heeled Kentuckians. They remind me of What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank’s book. “Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations,” he warned.
Published 10 years ago, the book is as relevant as ever.
Frank wrote that plutocratic politicians like McConnell “have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country’s return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution.”
McConnell is counting on Kentuckians not to take Grimes up on her challenge to look past McConnell’s rhetoric, to take a gander at his record and to vote on what he practices, not preaches.
Publicly pious pols like McConnell “may talk Christ, but they walk corporate,” according to Frank. “Values may ‘matter most’ to voters, but they always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won.
“The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking.
“Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.”
In any event, McConnell is counting on Kentuckians not to take Grimes up on her challenge to look past McConnell’s rhetoric, to take a gander at his record and to vote on what he practices, not preaches.
The social issues con job and veiled appeals to racial and religious bigotry are all McConnell has got when it comes to wooing working class white voters. Of course, the senator just wants their ballots, not the pleasure of their company at his house for dinner or for 18 holes and Scotch and sodas at the country club.
His shined up dog whistle and his well-oiled pander machine have kept him in Washington for going on 30 years.
“Linking a Kentucky Democrat to national Democrats is always a smart play in Kentucky, but linking one to Obama—who lost the state by nearly 23 points to GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012—is particularly potent,” Zingerle added.
The scribe also quoted a Kentucky Republican strategist: “We are still a racist state, I hate to admit it. Anything you can connect to Barack Obama is a winning thing for us.”
That perhaps too candid comment reminded of me Lyndon B. Johnson’s famous observation in 1960, when he won the vice presidency: “If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."
McConnell is an expert at hustling white folks of the kind Jesus called “the least among us.”
McConnell also wants everybody to know that he walks with the Lord and the National Rifle Association, but not with gay folks and government folks -- except for Republicans in Congress and folks in the military (who aren’t gay).