There are three hilarious (and secretly thrilling) moments for a political journalist. Showing up in a “Daily Show” montage. Being parodied on “Saturday Night Live” or mentioned on “Weekend Update.” Or showing up in a campaign ad saying something positive about a candidate said journalist criticizes 99.999 percent of the time. The former has happened to me. And thanks to a tweet from Josh Barro of Business Insider, I learned that the latter had happened.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is up for reelection and it’s not smooth sailing. He’s trying to beat back a persistent tea party primary challenge from Matt Bevin, who won the backing of the Senate Conservatives Fund. That’s the group Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) promised his colleagues Wednesday he would no longer raise money for in its quest to unseat not-conservative-enough Republicans. Confident he’ll squash the tea party upstart, McConnell is focusing fire on his surprisingly tough general-election opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The latest Public Policy Polling survey released last week shows the Democratic Kentucky secretary of state leading the five-term Senator by two points. According to a report in the Courier-Journal, “This poll is the fourth public poll since Grimes entered the race in July that has found Grimes with a small lead.”
Grimes has been hammering McConnell as “Senator Gridlock.” She even unearthed a clip of him proclaiming “I’ve been a proud guardian of gridlock from time to time” on the Senate floor. That 12-second clip and the polls must be scaring the beejezus out of the incumbent because his campaign released a two-minute ad hailing McConnell’s prowess as a deal-maker.
Politicians and pundits are heard calling him “tough,” a “key player,” “a fighter.” And you can see a clip of me from the Oct. 16 show of MSNBC’s “Now with Alex Wagner” declaring, “Mitch McConnell understands what it means to govern.” That was the day the minority leader came out of hiding to, once again, broker a deal that averted economic disaster. He chose “governing over his political future,” I wrote later that day.
In retrospect, it is clear as day that McConnell chose governing AND his political future with that last-minute move. By declaring in his campaign ad that “Leading America begins in Kentucky,” he is trying to convince general-election voters (who don’t go to the polls until next year) that he is the solution and not a big part of the problem in Washington. Look, I still give McConnell mad props for taking action that helped avert the destruction of the full faith and credit of the United States. But turning to me for political salvation is as desperate as it is hilarious.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj