The McConnell Taping Farce

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.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.