Ho Hum Gate

Mother Jones magazine recently published a story about Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and his staff talking about candidates who might oppose McConnell in the next election.  The story was based upon a recording obtained by the magazine.  The McConnell campaign has reacted with outrage, claiming that someone must have bugged campaign offices and requesting an FBI investigation.

I’d venture a few predictions about how this story will play out.  First, the McConnell campaign’s reaction has just focused attention on the story and will boost the sales of Mother Jones magazine far beyond what would otherwise have occurred.  (Incidentally, the Mother Jones story and the quotes from the tape recording seem like pretty thin gruel.  I don’t think anyone will be shocked that U.S. Senators and their staffs spend time researching opponents and discussing how to best portray them as idiots, demons, or out-of-touch plutocrats.  If the McConnell campaign hadn’t gone ballistic, the story probably wouldn’t have made a blip on the nightly news.)

Second, I’m betting that there was no bugging.  When leaks occur, the obvious reaction is to claim improper conduct by somebody else, but often the truth is that the leak was made by some disgruntled staffer trying to advance his own agenda.  Don’t be surprised if the recording in this case was made by someone in the McConnell campaign for his own purposes and then shared with someone, either intentionally or inadvertently, and ultimately ended up in the hands of Mother Jones as a result.

Third, who does Mitch McConnell think he is?  Does anyone really think that Mitch’s Kentucky campaign strategy sessions would be viewed as so likely to produce priceless nuggets of information that Democrats would risk criminal prosecution to find out what McConnell is discussing with his staffers?  And, even if the Democrats had bugged his office for some reason, why would they blow their cover by leaking a bland story about opposition research to a magazine like Mother Jones, rather than keeping their recording devices a secret and continuing to listen in on Mitch’s ruminations?

The McConnell campaign’s reaction to this non-story makes no sense . . . but I guess that’s the core problem in Washington D.C. these days.

Mitch Mush Mouth

We’re back in front of the TV and tuned in to C-SPAN for day two of the Republican National Convention.  We turned on the set and who is speaking?  Mitch McConnell.

Is there any more mush-mouthed, uninspiring speaker in national politics than Mitch McConnell?  Okay, I’ll give you Harry Reid — but short of that dreary measuring stick, McConnell is unparalleled.  Wooden, colorless, with mechanical gestures and monotone inflection, stale lines and lame jibes, McConnell can’t even get a rise out of the silly hat-wearing crowd in the convention facility.  He may well be a great tactical leader and parliamentarian who fits in well in the Senate club rooms, but he doesn’t belong on a podium speaking to a crowd, much less giving an address at a national political convention.

Mitch McConnell on the screen when we turn on the convention?  The Republicans are lucky we didn’t immediately turn the channel.

Our Gilded Congress

Congressional disclosure forms were released yesterday and they show that our elected public servants are doing very well, indeed.

The wealth in Congress knows no party-line boundaries; Republicans and Democrats alike are doing well.  According to the reports, the Minority Leader and Majority Leader in the Senate are both multimillionaires who saw their wealth rise in 2010.  So did the the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader.  Other Members of Congress reported on gifts they received and, in one case, a member of Congress paid herself some hefty interest on a loan she made to her own campaign committee.

There are exceptions, of course, and I am not suggesting that only paupers should be elected to the Senate and the House of Representatives.  But when Americans wonder why Members of Congress, at times, seem out of touch with bread-and-butter issues like jobs and housing prices, they might do well to reflect on the vast personal wealth in Congress and the deferential and preferential treatment our elected representatives receive as a matter of course.  It’s easy to downplay the effect of high gasoline prices or unsold homes in middle-class neighborhoods if you have millions of dollars in personal investments to reflect upon as a fellow Senator gives you a ride on her private jet.