Ding-dong, the wicked Mitch

The final week is nigh. Election Day will arrive — if we survive all the lies. As inspirational as this abysmal campaign is, my imagination is too fried for simple-minded rhyming. Expectations couldn’t have been lower amid dismal predictions of a race to the bottom. Freighted by tons of money from undisclosed sources, the submarines hit rock bottom in record time. The masochist who screams the loudest and longest for the next week may triumph to suffer the struggle again — if he or she survives a six-year fundraising marathon. Congratulations are premature. But it’s not too early to reconsider meaningful campaign finance reform. As the cost of winning a congressional seat rises, the American dream, like a hot-air balloon, floats further into high society.

 Did I mention my head exploded last Friday? If Mitch doesn’t succeed in igniting a class war, it won’t be for lack of trying. Like Joan Crawford in a cleaning frenzy, he was scapegoating those rotten eggheads who serve our president. “Do we want to save this country from these folks? These people who look down their noses at us? The White House is full of a bunch of community organizers and college professors who think they’re smarter than we are.”

While he’s pandering for votes at the expense of higher educators, maybe he should ask what Mitch can do for Western Kentucky — and perhaps consider moving The McConnell Center away from those snobby Obama-huggers at U of L and to a less erudite venue.

This is a classic example of the cynic trying to unload his personal baggage on political foes. More often than not, the joke’s on him. Country folks recognize a snake shedding its skin. And they laugh at — not with — an emperor who doesn’t know his ass is showing. 

 To share in the nation’s microscopic scrutiny of this magnificent melee is to witness McConnell, 72, struggling to maintain his spirit and stamina against a charismatic and resilient Democrat, Alison Lundergan Grimes, 35, Kentucky’s secretary of state.

While actress Ashley Judd pondered a run, McConnell met with staffers to discuss how they might exploit her eccentric past and pronouncements. An anti-McConnell activist perched strategically outside the meeting room recorded the strategy session. When Mother Jones published the story, McConnell directed the FBI to pursue two suspects for what he decried as a “Nixonian” act. But this wasn’t even a distant cousin to the Watergate break-in, bugging and cover-up that eventually leveraged the impeachment and resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. Its closest parallel with Watergate is the target — the rich, powerful and polarizing Nixonian Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Since Grimes seized the challenge, saying, “I don’t scare easily,” McConnell and his allies have carpet-bombed her with the political equivalent of napalm statewide, in ads casting her as an aspiring co-conspirator in Obama’s war on coal. Though she denounces the president’s anti-coal policies and EPA regulations, McConnell says she’s lying — which Nixon did habitually.

Meanwhile, McConnell is looking more Nixonian as the escalating intensity and pace of the grind fatigue both camps. Grimes, a neophyte, was expected to make more mistakes than the veteran Republican, who has gleefully and mercilessly battered every adversary for more than three decades.

Grimes remains on guard for any ambush. Her claims of fearlessness resonate amid a bold, aggressive bid that remains too close to call. Her most publicized stumble was refusing to say whether she voted for the president in 2008 and 2012. Naturally, the average voter infers that Grimes, whose prominent Democratic family is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, voted for Obama. She steadfastly championed her constitutional right to polling privacy, but many believe she had another good reason: to avoid a fresh accusation that her blood type is Obama. 

With six days till Election Day, it’s a sprint to the finish. In any race this tight, one fine mess or demographic spike can change the outcome. The risks, like the stakes, are staggering. Grimes’ key advantage appears to be superior enthusiasm. The prospect of electing Kentucky’s first woman senator — a fresh and feisty dynamo — inspires more excitement than six more years of deja vu after 30. While Grimes buoys hopes for the future, McConnell promises that the man in the mirror will change his ways.