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Mitch McConnell Protested

Linda Morgan, of LaGrange, Kentucky, and her daughter, Michele Morgan, of Goshen, Kentucky, came to the Louisville Marriott East to greet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Curtis Tate McClatchy

[dc]“H[/dc]e lives in a bubble. He hears what he wants to hear,” reporter Curtis Tate quoted James Moore of Louisville after he quizzed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about health care.

More than a few unhappy constituents burst McConnell’s bubble when he came home for the President’s Day recess.

The Lexington Herald-Leader ran Tate‘s story under the headline “McConnell goes back to his hometown and finds surly voters.

Kentucky’s longest-serving senator is from Louisville.

Protesters greeted McConnell when he showed up to chow down at a chamber of commerce lunch in Jeffersontown, a Louisville suburb.

Protesters greeted McConnell when he showed up to chow down at a chamber of commerce lunch in Jeffersontown, a Louisville suburb. He also ran into protesters the day before when he spoke at a noontide chamber feed in Lawrenceburg.

The protestors want Congress to keep the Affordable Care Act. McConnell wants to kill it “root and branch.”

“Where were they in 2014, 2015, and last year?” groused one of my buddies who is a local and state Democratic Party official.

Don’t get him wrong. The guy was glad to see the senator experience a close encounter of the worst kind.

“But if these individuals are upset with McConnell enough to take the time to go see him and voice their concerns, they can certainly go to the polls on election day,” my friend suggested.

He said that “the best protest” is a vote against the Republicans, who are well-nigh united against the ACA as it is.

“If the protesters are unhappy with the Republicans or don't feel like their voices are being heard, they should make them hear it in the only way the Republicans care about,” the Democratic bigwig challenged.

He practices what he preaches. He voted the straight Democratic ticket on Nov. 8. (So did I.)

My pal conceded that many, if not most, of the protesters were probably among those of us who voted against McConnell in 2014, Gov. Matt Bevin in 2015, and Trump last year.

But he pointed out that the GOP trio won Kentucky “big league” after trashing the ACA, which they deride as “Obamacare.”

By the numbers:

  • McConnell got more than 56 percent of the vote. He carried all but 10 of the Bluegrass State’s 120 counties.
  • Bevin garnered 52.5 percent of the vote and pocketed 96 counties.
  • Trump piled up 62.5 percent of Kentucky’s vote. Clinton prevailed in just two counties—Jefferson, which encompasses Louisville, and Fayette, whose seat is Lexington.

Bevin followed through on his campaign pledge to dismantle Kynect. Kentuckians who bought health insurance under the successful state program have to re-enroll under the federal exchange.

Bevin also pledged to cut the state’s Medicaid program. Shortly after he was elected, the Herald-Leader published a story that showed the Republican especially romped in counties with the longest Medicaid rolls.

H-L scribe John Cheeves cited a study by Transylvania University political scientist Andrea Malji which found that “the larger the Medicaid numbers, the more likely they were to back Bevin...The lower the Medicaid numbers, the more likely they were to favor the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway.”

Malji said she was “99 percent” confident her number crunching was right.

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Malji is from Pulaski County, in southeastern Kentucky, where Bevin captured 72 percent of the vote. (Trump claimed almost 82 percent of the county’s vote.) According to Cheeves, the prof “said she heard people back home denounce ‘Obamacare’ while thousands rushed to sign up with Kynect. They didn't seem to realize that Kynect, Kentucky's response to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the same thing as Obamacare, she said.”

I remember President Obama joking about the Kentuckian who went to the Kynect booth at the state fair and said he liked Kynect a lot better than “Obamacare.”

Tate quoted Malji: "There's either voter disconnect here, where the people weren't thinking about or weren't aware of Bevin's stance on health care, or these counties just have higher levels of social conservatives who thought it was more important to vote on social issues."

Social issues—one of my union brothers calls them “the three Gs—God, guns and gays”—often trump—pardon the pun—pocketbook issues in largely rural, white Protestant, Bible Belt Kentucky.

I was also glad to see the protestors. I’ve protested myself, joining a march in Murray that was a sister to the “Women’s March on Washington.” But like my friend, I wonder how many of the Lawrenceburg and Jeffersontown protesters voted for McConnell, Bevin or Trump and now feel the sharp pangs of buyer’s remorse.

Of course, the best way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to not buy the product.

Anyway, Lawrenceburg is the seat of Republican Red Anderson County. McConnell, Bevin and Trump all won it handily.

“Liberal Louisville” and Jefferson County also went for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes over McConnell and for Conway and Clinton, to boot.

If voters were “surly,” to McConnell, so was the senator. He’s about as cuddly as a porcupine.

“I assume most of them are Kentuckians,” he said of the crowd that gathered outside his meeting with the Jeffersontown chamber.

He implied the protestors weren’t.

Nobody does the how-dare-you smirk better than McConnell. He was snide with Moore, who owns an information technology consulting firm and has a type of leukemia.

Moore told the senator that the ACA and Kynect had been “very good to my small business.”

“I’ve never heard that before,” McConnell responded, forcing his trademark, thin-lipped smile.

Moore was unfazed by the senator’s condescending reply.

“I can put you in touch with a lot of other businessmen who feel exactly the same way I do,” he offered as some other people in the room applauded. (Apparently some of the protesters bought tickets to the luncheon.)

Moore said he went only because a friend couldn’t attend. Police, some on horses, kept others outside.

Evidently, Moore caused McConnell to lose his cool, if only just a tad.

When a woman asked the senator about denying coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions—which the ACA forbids—he got a tad testy.

“Let’s just not have a debate here,” Tate quoted him. “Why don’t you let the lady behind you ask her question?”

In any event, I wish I could have been a fly inside the vehicles that whisked McConnell way from the two feeds. Did he grab for the Rolaids? After all, McConnell is accustomed to breaking bread only with his admirers.

Berry Craig

But my friend, though he is all in for the protests, cautioned that “unless those protests turn into votes, nothing will change.”

Berry Craig