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Think back to Ted Cruz’s filibuster. One of my favorite moments was when he said there was no courage like the anonymous Congressional staffer. A hilarious yet true statement, but in recent days, I’ve started to question it. I think there is a far greater courage in Washington, and it belongs to Mitch McConnell.
The Senate Minority leader doesn’t let things like voter expectations or approval ratings stop him from doing what he thinks is best for him. “”We’re not just choosing who’s going to represent Kentucky in the Senate; we’re going to decide who’s going to run the Senate,” he said in early August. That quote is all you need to know about his mindset. It’s also not too much of a stretch to guess that he feels he is owed that seat by virtue of being there for five terms already. That’s the mindset of Washington – once you make it there, you deserve to stay there. It’s as though people like McConnell forget they’re not on the Supreme Court and can’t serve for life.
Here’s an ad put out by his campaign where he isn’t campaigning for the Senate at all, but for the Senate Majority Leader position. “Here’s the choice,” McConnell says in a speech. “Obama’s Nevada ‘Yes’ man or a Kentuckian to run the Senate.” A lot of his ads are like this. He isn’t talking about his state other than to say he’s from there. His number one goal, clearly, is to become the Senate leader and, given the way he’s led the minority, I’m not exactly sure I’m okay with that.
He quite brazenly works against the wishes of his constituency, refuses to represent them because they are conservative. Sure, he’ll talk to them like he’s one of them, but it’s quite possible it makes him feel ill to do so. I can only imagine how green his face was reading the script from this ad. The good thing about the spot is that you can see the “Red Tape Tower” of Obamacare law and regulations if you haven’t before. While the footage is up, you can hear the Minority Leader saying that he will continue to fight the law (if you believe he still is, don’t read any stories today about the re-emerging deal in the Senate).
Or you can look at this ad, released way back in February, where the engaging cinematography delivers a powerful series of side profile shots and close-up frontal shots of people saying McConnell is a conservative. “My leadership position is important to Kentucky,” he says, “because it puts me in the middle of all the big positions that are made in the country.”
Pardon me for being a Negative Nancy, but how exactly does that benefit Kentucky? Does that mean you get more pork to bring home? That quote is not about how Kentucky benefits, but how important McConnell is and why he shouldn’t be challenged ever. The rest of the ad buries that with people who call McConnell a conservative, but other than being friendly to coal, they don’t really offer proof. Most likely, it’s because they can’t.
The most recent batch of ads attack Matt Bevin, with maybe one or two sprinkled in to attack the Democratic candidate, but overall, McConnell’s campaign is fearful of Bevin’s momentum. Why else would they call him Bailout Bevin, despite the fact that McConnell championed the bailout and was proud it passed? Mitch McConnell has a clear record of working against his base and frankly lying about it. That, my friends, is courage when you consider this is the age of the Internet, when anyone can fact-check him moments after he makes a statement or releases a new ad. But he still goes out there and keeps on going. Why? Because he’s Mitch McConnell and he’s been there for three decades.
That kind of courage, the courage to do what’s in your best interest so openly and in the face of what your voters expect of you, is tremendous. If you believe actual representation in Washington D.C. is optional, then vote McConnell in 2014. But if you’re one of those who likes to think (for some reason) that your elected leaders should actually work for you, then I guess you should go with Bevin.