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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

McConnell campaign’s spin is spinning out of control

Mitch McConnell’s reaction to the story of his willingness to smear Ashley Judd has really got Mitch off-balance. All in all, this hasn’t been a good day for Team Mitch.
Steve Benen: …Look, I’ve followed enough campaigns to know how the game is played. McConnell doesn’t want to talk about his opposition-research team digging up dirt, and certainly doesn’t want to talk about his willingness to use the suicidal thoughts of a sixth-grader as a legitimate line of attack in a Senate campaign, so instead he and his aides are trying a misdirection strategy — the recordings aren’t important, the argument goes; it’s how the recordings were obtained that matters.

It’s all rather transparent, predicated on the assumption — which is probably a rather safe one — that the political world is easily distracted by smoke and mirrors.

But the hysterical reaction isn’t helping McConnell’s case. The Republican senator’s office initially blamed “ the Left” for “bugging” McConnell’s campaign headquarters. Then McConnell aides blamed Mother Jones magazine. Then Team McConnell blamed a local liberal group called ProgressKY. Then McConnell sent out a fundraising letter arguing that “the liberal media” is responsible. The begging-for-cash email included [the above] attention-getting graphic.

It’s certainly possible Republican donors will fall for this, but with Team McConnell pointing at a new culprit every hour or so, they’re starting to sound a little unhinged. When Brick Tamland shouts, “Loud noises,” it’s hilarious, but when the Senate Minority Leader’s office does it, it’s kind of pathetic.

To be sure, if there’s any evidence that a journalist was involved with, in McConnell’s words, a “Watergate-style” bugging operation of a senator’s office, it would certainly deserve to be a huge controversy, but there’ no evidence that anyone — Mother Jones, ProgressKY, Bigfoot, the Illuminati, et al — bugged McConnell’s office.
As I’ve already pointed out, Mitch has actually got two problems and the combination is apparently proving a bit much for him. He’s shrieking “WIRETAP! WIRETAP!” but as Benen points out, there’s no evidence of that at all. In fact, it’s much more likely that the recording was leaked — for reasons as yet unknown — by a member of McConnell’s own team or someone close to it. In other words, McConnell got stabbed in the back by a traitor.

Maybe Team Mitch’s scattershot blame-casting is a reflection of how distracted they are by the turncoat in their midst. You’d think the Senate minority leader’s campaign team could walk and chew gum at the same time, but maybe walking, chewing gum, and looking over their shoulder for backstabbers is stretching their abilities a little thin.

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