Though we learned on Thursday that the conversation (in which McConnell and aides discussed trashing his would-be opponent, Ashley Judd) was probably taped by someone standing outside the meeting room, McConnell at first declared that his office had been bugged.
“Quite a Nixonian move,” he mused. “This is what you get from the political left in America,” McConnell told reporters. “Much like Nixon in Watergate, that is what the political left does these days.”
In a similar vein, his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, decried the “Watergate-style tactics” in an interview with ABC News.
Just a day later, though, Benton ratcheted things up, calling the affair a “Gestapo-style” attack.
Whoa! Where does one go from there? In the spectrum of truly detestable characters, it seems the McConnell folks have lunged for the outer limit.
Probably so, says Mitchell McKinney , director of the University of Missouri’s Political Communication Institute. Mentioning the Gestapo “obviously takes us into Hitler-esque territory, and everyone knows that a politician should never mention Hitler. That’s when everyone just rolls their eyes.”
McKinney says the dramatic language might actually work against the McConnell camp. Overblown rhetoric is actually a warning sign, he says, a sort of “the lady doth protest too much” indication that the speaker is worried, big time.
“Clearly here, the response is not in proportion to the offense, whatever that might be — and that’s a reflection of their concern about the damage the recording might do.”
Enemy of my enemy?
In from the cold, and now on Pennsylvania Avenue just a block from the White House!
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group that includes an armed wing (Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK), opened its new Washington office Thursday.
A fierce foe of the Tehran government, the group — which the regime brands a violent cult — had been on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997. The NCRI hasn’t been able to operate in this country since 2003.
There had been 3,000-plus MEK members in Camp Ashraf in Iraq near the Iranian border. The MEK turned over its weapons to the Army — and has rejected violence, an NCRI official told us. But pressure from Iran led the Iraqis to close the camp recently and move the MEK closer to the capital — where they get hammered regularly by mortar fire. (The group’s leadership is based in Paris.)
A lengthy lobbying and legal campaign — backed by folks such as former U.N. ambassador John Bolton; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher; former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich (R), Rudy Giuliani (R) and Howard Dean (D); and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell — eventually forced the State Department to remove the organization from the terrorist sponsor list.
NCRI officials noted that Bolton, former Obama national security adviser Jim Jones, former congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and other backers attended the opening of the office of what’s now styled as “Iran’s parliament-in-exile.”