The Devil You Know

Today we learn that Mitch McConnell isn’t simply using the “secret taping” of his political team to avoid scrutiny of the dirty tricks his political team was plotting, or to raise money from rabid partisans. He’s running a political ad on it. No, seriously, he is, per this report from Politico‘s James Hohmann:

Mitch McConnell continues to seize on the bungled taping of his Louisville campaign headquarters.

The Senate Minority Leader will go on the air Thursday with a new commercial that links last week’s brouhaha to the Democratic president’s desire to oust him.

“Mitch McConnell is Obama’s No. 1 target because Mitch protects Kentucky from Obama’s bad ideas,” a female narrator says in the 30-second spot, shared first with POLITICO. “Liberals will do anything to beat McConnell.”

The campaign says the buy is “well into the six-figures” on broadcast and cable.

Wow. A bunch of cynical men sit around discussing how best to smear a woman who’s thinking about running against Mitch, and Mitch wants every Kentuckian to know all about it. Correct that–Mitch wants every Kentucky Republican primary voter to know all about it. Right now heading off a right-wing primary challenge in 2014 is absolutely all McConnell seems to care about. He presumably figures his money, the state’s partisan leanings, and the dark skills of the campaign team that was casually plotting the destruction of Ashley Judd, will be enough to dispose of any general election opponent, even if Mitch spends the next year or so kissing up to his junior colleague from Kentucky and treating every wingnut radio blowhard as the Voice of God.

From that perspective, the “secret taping” was a real gift to McConnell, offered by the bumbling not-so-super-PAC, Progress Kentucky.

Years ago I wrote a humor column (lost in the ozone) about a fictitious political consulting firm called “The Devil You Know” that could be hired to run a completely counterproductive negative campaign against its clients. I’m obviously not saying McConnell hired Progress Kentucky; but just that sometimes life does imitate, or even exceed, parody.

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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.