The race is on in Kentucky: Is Grimes ready to rumble?

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday that she will run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Grimes is the Kentucky secretary of state and was probably one of the last hopes for Kentucky Democrats to unseat the five-term Republican.

Something seems off about her announcement in Frankfort:

Grimes delivered her remarks in front of a banner for her 2011 secretary of state campaign, spoke for just a few minutes and answered two brief questions before departing. The entire press conference, which began more than half an hour late, lasted less than five minutes.

Uh oh.

Maybe this is an overreaction, but when you’re taking on a guy who isn’t particularly loved in the state and you know he’s going to run a vicious campaign, maybe you want to make a more forceful presence when you announce you’re going to run.


— Stand in front of a banner that points to the future, not the past.

— Announce your candidacy outdoors in front of a crowd of supporters in your hometown. Grimes was born in Maysville in northeastern Kentucky near the Ohio border. She went to high school and made her career in Lexington, the heart of Bluegrass Country. But she made her announcement in the state capital, Frankfort. Not a wise move since Frankfort reinforces the idea that you’re a politician first and a Kentuckian second.

— Make sure there’s lots of cheering and enthusiasm for the television cameras so people in the state know you’re popular. Did you notice in the video above that you don’t see excited people and you don’t hear any cheering? That means there weren’t any excited people and there wasn’t much cheering, because the essence of television news is to present the best pictures and sounds (words are irrelevant). If the TV crew thought this was the best stuff they had to show, you’re in trouble.

— Don’t be late for your announcement. Unless your doing it in front of a crowd of enthusiastic supporters … then people see the television feed where you’re getting their congratulations and realize that’s what kept you from getting up on stage in time.

— Make sure your announcement lasts for more than “five minutes.” Five minutes is the time it takes for the bio film your staff put together to show you’re rise from modest beginnings to become one of the most powerful women in the state. Wait! What? There was no bio film?!

— Answer more than two questions at your press conference. Elections are like dates. First impressions count. If the first impression you leave is, “I can’t wait to get out of here,” folks are going to think you’re really not that serious about the job.

But maybe I’m not seeing the big picture here. I’m sure political experts in Kentucky have a better fix on this:

Even before Grimes made her decision, one prominent Democratic consultant grumbled to The Fix that it was a rollout unworthy of a major political campaign. “If it is a ‘yes,’ then this will go down as one of the worst rollouts ever,” said the Democratic consultant, who was granted anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

Oh, crap. Anything else go wrong?

* Grimes’s announcement was not promoted on her Twitter account, her Facebook page or really by anyone other than her top adviser, who told the Associated Press about the 3 p.m. announcement on Monday morning.

* As of Tuesday afternoon, Grimes still had no campaign Web site, though and appear to have been snapped up by someone. That means that anybody who was excited by her launch and wants to contribute money to her campaign has no outlet to do so.

* According to Ryan Alessi, a terrific reporter in Kentucky, people in the room at Grimes’s announcement described it as “unorthodox,” “unprecedented,” “fascinating” and even “surreal.” Grimes didn’t tell even her closest advisers about her decision until she made it.

Where do we begin?

— Look, it’s the 21st century. Social media is everything in campaigns, and it sounds like there’s no social media expertise here. You get buzz on Twitter and Facebook. You want people talking about your campaign even before you know you’re going to campaign. This is a pretty big oversight.

— Strike that. The fact you didn’t grab the URLs and months ago is huge. This is basic preparation. The easiest thing for people to guess for your campaign Web addresses are these two URLs. I really hope Grimes’s people have this and haven’t told anyone. Because if they don’t, I’d put my money on the likelihood that McConnell’s people have these addresses and will use them to screw over the Grimes campaign every chance they get. A parody page or, even worse, a pretend campaign site that looks serious but has all kinds of misleading posts. Look, if this is a political course, the syllabus name is Basic Ratfucking 101.

You don’t know what that means?

Rat-fuck: It was resurrected by the “USC Mafia” in school elections before they joined the Nixon administration and perfected the practice; it means to utilize dirty tactics (i.e. stealing ballots, changing the time of events with organizers, etc.) in political campaigns to win at any cost. This practice eventually led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation.

— Your closest advisers don’t know you’re planning to do this!!?? You know they have lives, right? And you know that a campaign of national importance is going to suck the life out of anyone who gets involved in it, right? You’ve got to let people know you’re going to do stuff like this so they can wrap their brains around the fact that this is going to be draining. More important, you have to let them know this is your plan so they can tell you things like: “Uh, Alison. I didn’t think we were going to rise to national prominence, so I didn’t tell you earlier that the Salvadoran nanny we have on our payroll sort of snuck in across the border.”

Can it get worse?

Jeebus Cripes! Mitch already has a parody ad out. In fact, Mitch has a major ad dump on YouTube right now. Twenty videos. Including this one:

Why the hell is Mitch obsessing over toilet paper?

There better be a response ad out tomorrow. Something like:

Mitch McConnell is living up to his reputation as a politician who will take the low road at any cost to preserve his fiefdom in Washington. I intend to make this campaign about the needs of our state and the ways we can build a brighter future for all Kentuckians. We know Mitch is in the pockets of the banks and corporate overlords. Five terms are enough for a politician who’s lost touch with the needs and desires of the people he’s supposed to serve. 30 years is enough for the mouthpiece of fat cats and the one percenters. It’s time for a change.

Grimes’s announcement should have set the tone for the election. Instead Mitch has decreed that the election is going to wallow in the gutter.

UPDATE: The folks with Team Mitch are a bunch of a tricky suckers. They’ve rigged the YouTube URL so it will come up with a different ad as they update the page. So the anti-Grimes ad I had up earlier switched to a patriotic Fourth of July ad on July 4th. And the day before, it was an ad that basically criticized Grimes for the things I thought she did wrong (now attached above). Gotta keep an eye on these guys. Here’s the ever changing link:

Stupid is as stupid does: the Marco Rubio edition

This pretty much says it all:

Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading Republican behind the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill, says he will not vote for the legislation he helped write and has staked his political future on, unless substantial changes are made before final Senate consideration.

How can you negotiate with these guys when they can’t even negotiate with themselves?


The women in the Senate

Before I forget, Democrat Elizabeth Warren won her Senate race in Massachusetts.

This Molly Erdman parody announcement now reaches new levels of greatness:

President Obama had nominated Warren to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse. But Wall Street opposed her saying she was too aggressive in pursuing regulation, and Senate Republicans rejected her nomination. So she ran for Senate. And now, she’s going to be in their faces and on their cases for the next six years.

Meanwhile, a record was broken as of Tuesday’s election. There will be 20 women in the U.S. Senate, up from 17. That’s, of course, still too small a number, but I remember “back in the day” when having one woman in the Senate was an oddity.

Click here to go to a Washington Post photo gallery to see them all.

‘Lord of the Rings’ villain discusses rape

Another Republican candidate for the Senate — this one being “The Lord of the Rings” villain in his spare time — is focusing on rape:

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock became the latest Republican to wander into eyebrow-raising territory when it came to the discussion of rape and abortion during a Senate debate Tuesday night.

Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from nonconsensual sex is the will of God.

Of course, he says he was quoted out of context. Here’s the context, direct from his mouth in New Albany, Ind., just across the border from Louisville:

Unlike the Todd Akin bit of medical mystery, the GOP is rallying around Mourdock:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who stumped for Mourdock on Monday, also said politics were behind the outrage.

“We’re at the end of an election season here and I understand each side is looking to make hay out of every comment,” McConnell said, “but sharing the view of millions of Americans that life begins at conception is Richard’s deeply held personal belief that shouldn’t be misconstrued by partisans to imply something it does not.”

Perhaps bolstered by the strong support from Republicans, Mourdock was defiant in a press conference Wednesday, attacking his opponents for “twisting” his words.

How directly quoting a person is the same as “twisting” his words is beyond me. But apparently there is a different language for the extreme right. Newt, do you want to take it from here?

Elizabeth Warren announces her bid for Senate

I hope Elizabeth Warren wins the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, so we can see more of Molly Erdman.

The rise of the scorpion

So after days of arm twisting to get far right members of the Republican caucus to vote for a debt ceiling/spending reduction bill that had absolutely no chance of passing in what we call reality, John Boehner amended his losing bill to make it even more radically right-winged and it passed the house on a party line vote, only to be completely killed by the Senate two hours later.

It was a complete waste of time.

Now, the Republican senators are refusing to support the Senate bill offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid, which shouldn’t matter, because the Democrats are the majority party, but does matter because the GOP will filibuster and not allow anything to pass.

And we are three days from defaulting as a nation.

Meanwhile, the clueless of the world insist on bipartisanship, which I now realize doesn’t mean two sides working together toward a common goal, but means Democrats caving in to the ravings of an opposition party that has lost its mind.

But here’s something else to consider. The Republican actions are done to placate an extreme, unreasonable base. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to go out of their way to draw Republican support, and in the process appear to enjoy going out of their way to piss off a loyal rational base.

Every Democratic action designed to improve our domestic situation has been reviled by the GOP and watered down to attempt to get Republican votes that never will come. As a result, our economy is collapsing, unemployment is rising, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen. Democrats cut government jobs because Republicans say so. But jobs are jobs, and every cut adds to unemployment, reduces the workforce that provide tax revenue, and leads to an economic shortfall that only widens the deficit. The Democrats reduced a stimulus bill because the Republicans said so, and as a result, the economy has stagnated, because that spending would have added jobs and reduced the unemployment rate. Democrats backed off the efforts to allow tax breaks for the rich to expire because Republicans said so, and as a result people on the top end of the economic spectrum can charter private jets to fly their kids to summer camp or build $200,000 playhouses for their four year old daughters, while people on the other end of the spectrum are barely surviving.

Maybe we shouldn’t be sniping on the venal behavior of the Republicans. One columnist used this analogy: They are the scorpions, while the nation is the frog they’re about to sting. Maybe we need a group Democratic legislators who are as loyal to or as fearful of their base as the Republicans are as loyal to or fearful of theirs. If you keep treating the base with contempt as Democratic leaders are currently doing, that base isn’t going to be around when the next election rolls around. Then, the scorpions win. And we all die.