Is Mitch McConnell the real-life version of Bulworth? Here’s an excerpt from my piece from yesterday’s The Daily Beast:
Mitch McConnell has thereby found himself in an unprecedented situation — the master politician is running an embarrassment of a campaign. And there is little that is tougher to survive politically than become a laughingstock, particularly with 24/7 cable news and social media replaying your humiliations on a virtual endless loop.
Veteran Kentucky political observers are shaking their heads at McConnell’s sudden loss of political mastery. Some blame his lack of traction on the high level of difficulty of running his traditionally scorched earth strategy against a young female opponent — early sexualized GOP attacks on Grimes as an “empty dress” and an “Obama girl” backfired and perhaps have led to a heightened defensiveness from the McConnell camp and a more desperate effort to reach outside of their comfort zone into, yikes, positive advocacy.
Others blame the campaign leadership, specifically campaign manager Jesse Benton, a Ron and Rand Paul confidante and family member. The manager’s hiring was seen as a bold strategic move by McConnell to blunt Tea Party primary opposition; but after a recording emerged of Benton claiming that he was “holding my nose” while he worked for the establishment icon — and then after McConnell’s refusal to fire or even discipline Benton for his insubordination — it appeared that the powerful Senate leader was being held captive by insurgent forces that lack the professionalism and experience to run a top-tier Senate campaign . And perhaps some of the campaign’s mistakes over the past month might be attributed to a manager whose head and heart aren’t really in the race.
But my theory involves none of the above. I believe that Mitch McConnell is having a Bulworth moment. Just like the suicidally disillusioned title character of the 1990s Warren Beatty feature, Kentucky’s senior senator has simply had enough of Washington. Why, after all, would anyone want to return to the polarization, the hyper-partisanship, the paralysis that has engulfed the nation’s capital? And with some sense of responsibility for helping create that status quo, I believe McConnell now desires to leave on his own terms — smirking on camera, sticking it to the liberal media, and poking the eye of absurd traditions such as our undeserved ardor for a bunch of teenagers running up and down a hardwood floor.
Click here to read “Is Mitch McConnell Trying to Lose?