I’m fascinated by the divide among Democrats in reaction to Jack Conway’s fusillade over the weekend against Rand Paul. I first saw the ‘Aqua Buddha’ ad late Saturday afternoon in an email blast from Conway campaign. And my jaw dropped. What’s fascinating to me isn’t just the divergence of opinion but the intensity on both sides. There seems to be no middle ground.
Either you think it’s outrageous and awful and something every Democrat should disown Conway. Or you think you want to move to Kentucky to vote for Conway because he gets that you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight and you have nothing but contempt for Dems who don’t have the stomach for getting a little into the gutter.
One of those in the latter category is Theda Skocpol but she’s not the only one, on either side …
I have a real problem with all the prissy condemnations coming from liberal commentators about Conway’s ad on Rand Paul’s youthful playing with contempt for Christianity. People are acting as if it is some kind of political sin to point out to ordinary Kentucky voters the kind of stuff about Paul’s extremist libertarian views that everyone in the punditry already knows. This does not amount to saying that Christian belief is a “requirement for public office” as one site huffs. It is a matter of letting regular voters who themselves care deeply about Christian belief know that Paul is basically playing them. No different really than letting folks who care about Social Security and Medicare know that Paul is playing them,
One reason that Dems do not seem to be able to play hardball — in a viciously hardball political world — is that Dems often lack conviction or the will to be eloquently honest (for example, on taxes). But an equal problem is that when someone does play hardball, the rest of the prissy liberal Mugwumps tut-tut them about it.
I say, go for it, Jack Conway. Does anyone doubt that Paul and his supporters would have used similar publicly documented material against Conway (or even less material)?
For my part, my own view is inevitably colored by my sense that Paul is a total fraud, on this issue and a lot of others. But I’m curious what you think. I think that on both sides this goes to the heart of how the Democratic party operates politically.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.