COMMENTARY | Liberal magazine Mother Jones has gotten a delicious scoop: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch Republican, has been recorded on tape bashing actress Ashley Judd, a devout liberal and a potential 2014 Senate campaign challenger, during a strategy session in his office. McConnell is apparently not above questioning Judd’s mental and emotional stability in a future political contest and is viewing this pre-campaign season period as a game of “Whack-a-mole,” targeting Judd and others for early attacks. The big problem? The tapes are illegal, taken without the knowledge of McConnell. A hidden bug in the office of a prestigious U.S. senator: Is this Watergate 2.0?
The FBI is now involved, reports CNN. What could be behind the mysterious bug and damaging recordings? Certainly, McConnell looks bad, like a scheming member of the old guard trying to crush young, fresh opponents. He blames the political Left for attempting to sabotage him in a “Nixonian” plot.
Complexities abound in regards to who might have planted the bug and leaked the recordings. While it might indeed by liberals, hoping to topple a Republican giant, it could also be a conservative operation, seeking to smear liberals by making them look like scheming criminals. Who has motive to make McConnell look bad?
While liberals might be behind it, having motive to attack the conservative Senate Minority Leader, they risk hurting their own cause. While McConnell comes out looking bad, Judd may come out looking tarnished as well, especially if she ever references the recordings in a campaign. Conservatives would then paint her as in cahoots with the criminals who planted the bug and leaked the tapes. Though McConnell is not particularly sympathetic, Judd, as a political rookie, can afford zero dirt to her name.
Some conservatives may want to hurt McConnell and set the stage for new leadership in 2014 and beyond. Who wants McConnell’s job? If McConnell loses his re-election bid based on the tapes that make him appear scheming and unsympathetic, who benefits? Many Republicans may want a promotion or simply want a politically weakened McConnell to seek their help. These individuals would also benefit from liberals looking bad due to the tapes.
Could it be a disgruntled staffer? This would be especially dangerous, for if he or she were caught a publicized litany of his or her complaints against McConnell would be the pre-trial retaliation.