Political Animal


April 12, 2013 10:25 AM The McConnell Taping Farce

By Ed Kilgore

If you want a demonstration that liberals should not emulate Breitbartian “guerrilla” tactics, look no further than the latest developments in the saga of the “secret tape” of Mitch McConnell and his cronies discussing a potential Ashley Judd challenge.

To recap, MoJo’s David Corn published excerpts from the discussion that proved what everybody already knew: McConnell is a nasty piece of work heading a political operation willing to smear opponents. Team McConnell went nuts trying to divert attention from the substance of the revelations, comparing the taping to Watergate and calling in the FBI to investigate.

Now it appears (according to a Democratic source in Kentucky wanting to distance the party from the imbroglio) someone connected with the so-called Super PAC Progress Kentucky may have been responsible for making the recording and leaking it to Corn. Kentucky liberals are lining up to denounce Progress Kentucky as an incompetent bunch of clowns that no one in the Bluegrass State takes seriously.

To be clear, Corn didn’t do anything wrong, and the revelations would have been a lot more damaging to McConnell if Ashley Judd had not taken herself out of the running as a potential 2014 challenger. But the net effect of the whole saga has been to give McConnell a fundraising vehicle and also a “victim” credential to wave before Tea Folk in Kentucky who are still mulling a 2014 primary challenge to Mitch.

It’s illuminating, of course, to see liberals in and beyond Kentucky distancing themselves from the would-be guerillas of Progress Kentucky; you rarely see conservatives do that when a Breitbart-inspired stunt backfires. Some people on the left see that as a sign of weakness. But I’d say it’s better understood as a sign of understanding that what you get from skullduggery is rarely as effective as publicizing the outrages committed by people like McConnell every day, in public, as proud examples of everything they believe in and represent.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • jjm on April 12, 2013 10:35 AM:

    Umm, what is the average IQ in Kentucky?

  • Dan on April 12, 2013 10:45 AM:

    Easy shot, jjm. As a native Kentuckian and current resident, what's most outlandish about this is the knee-jerk response that old-time Kentucky Democrats are having against Progress Kentucky. But a lot of that may have to do with the amount of time McConnell's been in office and the demographic of the folks at KDP HQ in Frankfort. The central party apparatus is awfully gray, and that's something that needs to be changed.

  • kindness on April 12, 2013 10:53 AM:

    Still doesn't give McConnell a pass on his abominable willingness to use smear & slander.

    Sure it'll give cover on Fox & probably most the cable MSM but the voters will see both things as separate. Neither will look good.

    It'll all boil down to who runs against the turtle.

  • MuddyLee on April 12, 2013 10:59 AM:

    Anybody know where McConnell stood on the Breitbart ACORN "scandal"? I suspect that he was not outraged by Breitbart's tactics. Mitch - the master of obstruction and filibustering - sometimes you have to reap what you sow. Wish LBJ was still around to deal with repub SOBs like Mitch.

  • c u n d gulag on April 12, 2013 11:08 AM:

    Democrats suck at "dirty tricks."

    We just haven't raise a couple of generaions of ratfeckers, like the Republicans have.

    They learn ratfecking from an early age. We know that because all of their best ratfeckers started in The College Republicans.

    I wouldn't doubt that they have Minor Leagues for them, starting in HS, or maybe even JHS.

    That kid "bogarting" that joint?
    The kid putting "date rape" drugs in the Prom punch?
    The kid raiding other parents liquor cabinets, or looking for cash in their bedrooms, while s/he's visting?

    Probably all future Republican ratfeckers.

  • fostert on April 12, 2013 11:23 AM:

    One point about this is wrong. McConnell calls the taping 'Nixonian', and that's wrong. Nixon taped himself. If this is Nixonian, then McConnell's staff made the tapes.

  • Epicurus on April 12, 2013 11:34 AM:

    As always, Mr. Kilgore hits the nail on the head. We really should be discussing McConnell's piggish behavior, but the GOP has mastered the art of misdirection. It's not about what he said, it's the fact that someone TAPED it. This crap has been going on since Watergate, people; let's finally smarten up, shall we?

  • lou on April 12, 2013 12:43 PM:

    One time when the Senate was taking up campaign finance reform legislation, McConnell, being interviewed on TV, boldly challenged the media to prove that any senator's vote had ever been effected by a campaign donation. To my knowledge the media has never taken him up on the challenge.

  • Hired Mind on April 12, 2013 12:51 PM:

    "...you rarely see conservatives do that when a Breitbart-inspired stunt backfires."

    What, did you miss the entire Shirley Sherrod affair?

    Glenn Beck came out that *same day* and denounced it, under the false pretense that it was about Sherrod, rather than the reaction of the crowd.

  • bdop4 on April 12, 2013 1:32 PM:

    Sure wish these clowns would have had the discipline to STFU and let the tape work its magic. They should have taken notes from the bartender who recorded Mitt. He waited until AFTER the election.

  • Sean Scallon on April 12, 2013 2:06 PM:

    Strange though that such a tape (which was supposedly made a couple of months ago) was released well after Judd had announced she wasn't running not to mention the fact two leftist operatives just waltz in McConnell headquarters, whip out recording devices and tape through the walls.

  • Joe on April 12, 2013 2:10 PM:

    Do you all think this is not the norm for all politicians?? They all smear each other both on the left and the right. Look at how Obama's campaign made Romney look in the election. Anyone that would look into Romney's background would find he is a very caring and generous man to both friends and those in need. But as I said look back at what the media and Obama made him look like. So it goes both ways.

  • Anonymous on April 12, 2013 2:28 PM:

    How shameless is it that whenever these Repubs get caught at something most people would be embarrassed about, they turn themselves into victims and fund raise over it! Absolutely galling. We should be pointing it out whenever it happens and shame them for it.

  • mudwall jackson on April 12, 2013 2:54 PM:


    for whatever it's worth, the reference was to the g. gordon liddy et al's attempt to bug dnc chair larry o'brien's office at the watergate building. nixon didn't just tape the oval office.

    and for what it's worth, mitch is symbolic of all that's wrong with modern american politics.

  • zandru on April 12, 2013 2:58 PM:

    "If this is Nixonian, then McConnell's staff made the tapes. " sez fostert.

    Yes, and I've been wondering if this may have actually been the case. A routine semi-secret recording, part of McConnell's standard procedure, is somehow leaked by a trouble-making insider. Even Chairman Mitch could be a suspect. And then ... WATERGATE!!!!

    The MSM seems to have united in attacking them awful Demmycrats, so if it was an inside ploy, it's worked beautifully.