Here’s why all the super-smart insidery people privately say they think that in the end, Alison Lundergan Grimes will not beat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Her strategy, they say, is to keep it close, keep her distance from Obama, hold her own in debates, try to match him attack ad for attack ad, and just hope McConnell makes a mistake. And the super-smart people agree: You may admire or loathe McConnell, but if he’s proven one thing in umpteen elections, it’s that he doesn’t make mistakes.
That’s what the insiders say. There’s just one problem with it. McConnell has made about a mistake a week so far! He’s run an awful campaign. And he’s given anybody no reason at all to think he won’t just keep making them.
The latest is maybe the biggest howler yet, bigger than even the ad that mistook Duke basketball players for UK Wildcats. He said last week that while he will certainly still pursue repeal of Obamacare, he thinks Kentucky should be able to and will keep its celebrated Kynect health-care exchange, set up by Democratic Governor Steve Beshear under the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how LEO Weekly, out of Louisville, reported the moment:
McConnell took three questions on the Affordable Care Act and how its repeal would affect the 413,000 Kentuckians who now have insurance through the state exchange, Kynect. The first question asked how he would respond to those who say repeal would take away the health care of 413,000 Kentuckians, to which McConnell launched into his standard answer that Obamacare was raising premiums, raising deductibles, and killing jobs, concluding, “It was a big mistake, we ought to pull it out root and branch and start over.”
WHAS’ Joe Arnold followed up that answer by asking, “But if you repeal it, won’t all of the state exchanges be dismantled? How does that work?” McConnell then launched into his standard “solution” of sorts, calling for an “international market” of insurance companies that aren’t limited by state lines, in addition to “malpractice reform.”
The LEO writer, Joe Sonka, whom McConnell’s muscle men once threw out of a press conference because he has the temerity to write, like, facts and stuff, went on to slice and dice McConnell’s argument: “Kynect could not have existed without the Affordable Care Act, and it would cease to exist if the Affordable Care Act ceased to exist. There would be no people eligible for the expanded Medicaid—the large majority of those who signed up through Kynect—and there would be no exchange for people to sign up for affordable private insurance with federal subsidies. Saying that Kynect is unconnected with the ACA or its repeal is just mind-numbingly false. The ACA and Kynect are one in the same.”
This is obvious to anyone with a brain. The category of humans with a brain includes McConnell. He’s not that stupid. That leaves only one other choice: hypocritical. Well, two other choices: hypocritical and lying. That is, he knows Kynect can’t exist without the ACA, but he just said it anyway, without any concern for the truth. And the hypocrisy part comes in, of course, because, well, how can he have stood up there for years saying that, no, Americans should not be permitted to get health care the Obama way, and he’s going to strike it down the second he can—but Kentuckians, they’re different?
This gives Grimes an opening she didn’t have. More than 430,000 Kentuckians have health care now through Kynect. Mitch wants to take it away. No, wait, he doesn’t! Well, he wants to take Obamacare away, and Kynect came through Obamacare, but somehow he’s going to keep Kynect. And he’s going to go buy a new Oldsmobile, even though Olds is out of business, and he’s gonna campaign with Colonel Sanders, even though he’s been dead since 1980, and once he’s reelected he’s going to privatize Medicare—except in Kentucky, because Kentucky is different. Grimes’s media team, a talented bunch in my experience, should be able to have quite a lot of fun with this.
The Lexington Herald-Leader sure did, raking McConnell over the coals Wednesday. It wrote:
Asked specifically if Kynect should be dismantled, McConnell said: “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question.”
That’s a quote that should live forever, or at least until Election Day. The super-smart insiders may be right, though, about one thing. McConnell won’t make “a mistake.” He’ll make several.