Go Away, Conway.
It’s never fun to lose a race. And at this point in the election cycle, many, many candidates know, deep down, it’s coming. When they look in the mirror, first thing in the morning, unshaven and bleary-eyed from the previous late night’s increasingly tense meetings and increasingly desperate fundraising calls . . . the reflection whispers that they’re going to lose on November 2.
(SPOILER ALERT: Among those experiencing a variation of this slow-motion doom right now are Joe Sestak, Lee Fisher, Russ Feingold, Dan Onorato, Dan Maes, and Charlie Crist. Carl Paladino does not experience this; every morning his reflection stares back and him and cackles madly, and after a moment he joins in.)
Also probably under a perpetual black cloud is Jack Conway, allegedly once a Democrat with a promising future. Kentucky hasn’t been a particularly warm environment for Democrats in recent years, but he’s been state attorney general, and that’s usually a natural stepping stone to higher office, helping to build a resume full of busting gangs and abusive nursing homes and whatnot. And after winning the primary, he’s handed an absolute gift; one day after winning the GOP nomination, Rand Paul offers a long, thoughtful, philosophically complicated and multilayered answer on the value of the Civil Rights Act. When asked whether one supports the CRA, the correct answer for anyone ever aspiring to high office is “Yes.”
And Jack Conway is going to be known as the guy who didn’t merely fail to beat Rand Paul; he has never come that close! Somewhere Martha Coakley is turning to Creigh Deeds and scoffing, “even I could have gotten some traction with that.”
When you know you’re going down, you can go down in one of three ways. One, you can lose with dignity; try to preserve the possibility of some future bid. You can also throw caution to the wind; there was something liberated about Bob Dole in his final weeks of the campaign, and he actually closed some ground. Or you can just attempt to burn the place down on your way out.
Jack Conway has decided to follow that last path, offering a late attack ad that basically suggests that Rand Paul is not merely not a Christian, but such a weirdo with so many troubling stories in his past that he might as well be a member of the Hale-Bopp Comet Suicide Cult. Of course, the ad conflates Paul’s garden-variety wariness about faith-based initiatives, fearing the hand of the state meddling in matters from above, with a variety of outlandish, unverified tales from anonymous stories.
. . . William Jacobson, writing at Legal Insurrection, observes, “Democrat Jack Conway’s advertisement asserting that there are ‘questions’ about Republican Rand Paul’s Christianity, raises in interesting issue. Substitute Barack Obama for Rand Paul, tweak a few of the allegations, and you would have an advertisement as to which the mainstream media and left-wing blogosphere would scream ‘Racist!!!’ and ‘Islamophobic!!!’ But it’s Rand Paul, so there is a mix of opinion on the left, with many taking the view that all is fair in politics, including questioning someone’s Christianity. The Internet has a long memory.”