Mary Katharine already covered the first part of this exchange and noted the second, but it’s worth revisiting for Mitch McConnell’s brief rebuttal. The Republican incumbent scoffs at Alison Grimes’ invocation of a sacred right to avoid answering an obvious question, and demonstrates it by announcing he “proudly” voted against Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections:
There’s also no sacred right to not announce how we vote. I voted for Mitt Romney, proudly. I voted for John McCain. And by the way, 116 out of 120 Kentucky counties agreed with my judgment that we might be in better shape now had Mitt Romney been elected.
Well, there actually is a right to keep your vote to yourself, but that’s not really the reason why we have a secret ballot. The secret ballot is to ensure that the government can’t find out how you voted, and punish you accordingly if it is so inclined. A pleasant side effect of that is that private citizens can tell their neighbors and relations that their vote is none of their business, or can share their votes from the mountaintop if they prefer.
But Alison Grimes isn’t running for the position of Private Citizen. She’s running for the US Senate in a cycle where Barack Obama’s agenda is very much on the table — just as Obama himself insisted earlier this month. She wants Kentucky voters to replace McConnell with her, but won’t say whether she’ll vote for Obama’s agenda, instead offering wishy-washy language about independence while taking no stands on Obama policies like ObamaCare and coal restrictions. Now she wants to pretend that, even though Grimes served as a delegate to both of the Democratic National Conventions, in 2008 and 2012, that nominated Obama for President, her support of Obama in the election is somehow a mystery — and that it’s none of the business of Kentucky voters because of the principle of the secret ballot.
She certainly was less committed to that principle in 2012, as a fact-check from the Kentucky Herald-Leader pointed out:
She told the Herald-Leader in 2012 that it was “no secret” she was attending the Democratic National Convention as an Obama delegate.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat,” Grimes told the Herald-Leader. “I’m very proud of that and the values our party stands for. My support of our party and our nominee is well known.”
The McConnell campaign circulated video of Grimes’ response Thursday, along with a picture of her and her husband, Andrew, at the 2013 Kentucky Society’s Bluegrass Ball, one of a series of inaugural balls that celebrated the re-elected president’s swearing-in.
Sure, Grimes can keep refusing to answer the question, but it’s not because of principle. It’s out of naked ambition and self-preservation. This latest attempt to spin this as a principled stand is sanctimonious hypocrisy. It’s both dishonest and unfair to Kentucky voters, who after all will have to choose who gets to vote for them in the US Senate.
Two years ago, Grimes was “very proud” to announce her support for Barack Obama, and now McConnell is the only one “proudly” talking about the votes he cast in the last two presidential cycles. That speaks volumes about Grimes’ judgment, and this response speaks perhaps as loudly about her character.