National Review’s Jim Geraghty made a good catch this morning.
During an interview with an editorial board, Kentucky Democratic Sen. Alison Lundergan Grimes was asked repeatedly whether or not she voted for Barack Obama for president. She proceeded to squirm and furiously rub her thumbs together as she struggled to avoid answering the question:
“What’s more damning, admitting that she voted for O, which everyone assumes anyway, or painfully dodging the question repeatedly?” Allahpundit asked.
“Reason why Grimes won’t say ‘yes’ is she doesn’t want ‘yes’ soundbyte clipped into an ad. Instead, her whole answer could be an ad,” Guy Benson observed.
Even these two astute political analysts did not go as far as Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd. The NBC News personality determined that Grimes’s evasive answer has essentially “disqualified” her from holding higher office.
“Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything?” Todd asked, barely concealing his disdain. “Is she ever going to answer a tough question on anything? You want to be a U.S. senator?”
“If you can’t say, if you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president — you can disagree with him — but you can’t answer that basic question?” he added incredulously. “I think she disqualified herself. I really do.”
Geraghty believes that this is another reason why Chuck Todd was a superb pick by NBC News to revive the moribund Meet the Press brand.
By the way, this is a good example of how Chuck Todd, while by no means a conservative, is enough of a straight shooter that conservatives ought to applaud him, or at least give him a chance as the new host of “Meet the Press.” When a Democrat flops and looks silly, Todd says the Democrat flopped and looked silly.
Could anyone picture David Gregory saying that one of the Democrats’ biggest hopes for the cycle “disqualified herself” in the final weeks of an election?
Or Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, who was reportedly unsuccessfully courted by NBC to replace Gregory, for that matter?
Grimes’s latest stumble is just another reason why the press was guilty of self-indulgence when so many branded the Kentucky Senate campaign the “marquee race” of the 2014 cycle. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was always going to face a tough reelection fight, even if the Democratic nominee was the feckless actress Ashley Judd, but a Democratic president’s sixth year midterm was probably never going to be the cycle which saw him ousted by Bluegrass State voters.
Todd deserves plaudits for acknowledging the obvious, but those plaudits should be qualified. Grimes’s prowess as a political actor was elevated by the press beyond its appropriate stature long ago, and it is not her fault that she is failing to live up to the media’s unjustifiably high expectations today.