That will probably be the most quoted line from the Rand Paul / Jack Conway debate last night, and for good reason: it represents a rather drastic line in the sand drawn against the scurrilous and vituperative wave of attacks made by progressive Democrats desperate to keep their tottering Congressional majorities. The video:
What Dr. Paul is referring to is this exceptionally offensive and cynical attempt by the Conway campaign to provoke religious bigotry in Kentucky voters. As Ed Morrissey noted at the link, one of the things that made said ad so… pettily nasty… was that Conway not only attacked Paul’s personal religious beliefs; he went after Paul’s opposition to funding faith-based initiatives. Given the way that progressives in the last decade had gone after such things hammer and tongs themselves – at least, when there was a Republican in office – I think that we can safely assume then that their opposition was a flat-out lie.
This is going to backlash against the Conway campaign. To begin with, it showed a certain contempt for Kentucky voters generally that suggests to me that the idea came from outside the state: surely Kentucky Democrats themselves know their constituents better than that. Second, an ad that allows your opponent to say something like “I will not be associated with someone who attacks my religion” legitimately is more or less the definition of a bad ad. Third – and I don’t know how important it is, but it may be – doing this ad allowed Paul (practically forced him, in fact) to bring up something that normally doesn’t get mentioned about him: he’s a Presbyterian. Which is to say, a perfectly normal mainline Protestant sect that has female deacons (his wife is one). Which is also to say, something that is light years away from the progressive, probably out-of-state smear job that was tossed at the man and his family.
Put another way: I applaud Dr. Paul’s refusal to shake the hand of Jack Conway. Because I think that by now we all know where Jack Conway’s hands have been.
PPS: If you don’t believe me about how bad this was for Conway, maybe you’ll believe Senator Claire McCaskill (D, MO). The fact that she felt the need to temper her party’s talking points on the GOP at all…
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