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Okay, Sen. Mitch McConnell didn��t call Alison Lundergan Grimes an “empty dress.”

Brad Dayspring did. He is communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

But McConnell didn’t slam the slam as “highly offensive.” Matt Bevin, his 2014 GOP primary foe, did in an interview with USA Today and the Louisville Courier-Journal, the latter the Bluegrass State’s biggest paper.

The tea party-tilting Bevin said Dayspring’s diss, which was in an email to The Hill newspaper, was "insulting and rude" to Grimes, the all but certain Democratic nominee for senate next year.

Bevin tied the slur to McConnell, calling it “beneath the dignity of a United States senator." That got McConnell’s attention.

Hence, a McConnell flak teed off on Bevin: "In case there was any doubt that Matt 'Bailout' Bevin and Barack Obama were playing on the same team, he removed all doubt by participating in a ridiculous smear by association conjured up in the minds of left-wing partisans."

Playing the victim is classic McConnell. Ask entertainer Ashley Judd. Last spring, she thought about coming home to Kentucky and running against McConnell.

A couple of bunglers from a group called “Progress Kentucky” got caught secretly taping the senator and the captains of Team Mitch planning to make political hay off her history of depression and her unorthodox views on religion.

The tape was leaked to Mother Jones magazine. Before he knew who the leakers were, McConnell was on TV playing Mitch the Martyr, targeted again by “the political left.” He even dredged up Watergate, though that was true crime and the perps were from his party.

No matter, most of the media bought the Poor Little Mitch pitch and the story shifted to the leakers, not what was leaked.

“Left wing partisans” is vintage McConnell, but more on that in a minute.

Bevin, who calls the senator “Mudslinging Mitch,” said the NRSC and the McConnell campaign “are one in the same," which, of course, they are. Bevin said a top McConnell aide has joined the committee, where he is helping his old boss try to keep his senate seat.

McConnell has yet to disavow Dayspring’s sexist smear. I’d bet the farm he loved it.

Character assassination has been McConnell’s stock in trade since he got elected to the senate in 1986. He demonizes Democrats and now the bothersome Bevin, who dared dispute the senator for a sixth term. McConnell has nuked Ronald Reagan’s storied Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

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“Do unto others before they do unto you,” is McConnell’s spin on some other famous scripture.

McConnell likes to brag that he is Kentucky’s longest serving senator. Longevity does not automatically equal eminence, nor does demagoguery. But he’s Sen. Mitch McConnell, and he approved that message about “left-wing partisans.”

By far, Kentucky’s greatest senator was Henry Clay. Though he ran for president three times and lost every time, he eclipsed most presidents of his day in influence and leadership.

Known as “the Great Pacificator,” Clay brokered three compromises to save the Union before the Civil War.

McConnell is “Senator No,” who equates compromise with surrender. If Obama and the Democrats are for it, he’s against it, and vice versa.

Kentucky’s secretary of state, Grimes seems smart and savvy. Significant money should come her way.

But it will be tough for her to beat McConnell, presuming he can fend off Bevin in the primary. Even so, some recent history suggests it’s not mission impossible for the Democrat.

Back in 2011, the Republicans expected to retake the governorship. After all, McCain mauled Obama in Kentucky in 2008. In 2010, Rand Paul romped over Jack Conway for the senate, and the GOP picked up a U.S. House seat and seats in the state legislature, to boot.

David Williams was president of the Republican senate. The Democrats also called him “Senator No.”

With Williams ramrodding the senate, it didn’t matter what bill passed the Democratic house. It was dead on arrival where Williams ran the show.

Williams got the GOP gubernatorial nod. He waged a McConnell-style, hard right, meaner-than-a-junk yard dog campaign against incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear, a moderate Democrat who doesn’t view politics as a holy war.

Berry Craig

“He’s smart, he’s capable, he’s a terrific debater,” McConnell said of his guy Williams.

Williams lost to Beshear, big time.

Berry Craig

Saturday, 7 September 2013