“What a disaster!” Carl Hulse declared about Amy McGrath’s fumblaya on Brett Kavanaugh. How can McGrath could have not prepared for an obvious question, CNN’s John King wonders. at the beginning of this discussion. Sahil Kapur comes closest to the correct answer — Democrats can’t really compete in states like Kentucky any longer when they’re caught between party activists and actual voters:
“What a disaster!” said Carl Hulse, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. “This is just a disaster. I’m not sure what was worse, being for Kavanaugh or then having to flip so quickly and say you weren’t.”
“You’re not going to raise any Democratic money if you’re for confirming Kavanaugh, and that’s her only hope,” said CNN host John King.
Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur argued that McGrath was forcing herself into awkward ideological positions by trying to appeal to conservative voters in Kentucky. “Part of Amy McGrath’s message is that President Trump won Kentucky by a big margin and she wants to work with him on things like infrastructure and draining the swamp,” Kapur said. “And she’s painting McConnell as a threat to getting Trump’s agenda passed, and saying she would better work with President Trump. None of it really computes here.”
Washington Post reporter and CNN political analyst Rachael Bade reflected on the national Democratic interest McGrath had gained since her close loss in the race for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in 2018, but concluded that “really, after this, she probably can’t recover from this.”
The exchange between King and Kapur defines exactly what the problem will be for Democrats in red states, especially against McConnell in Kentucky. They can’t raise money with Democrats elsewhere without explicitly attacking Trump’s judicial picks — and they can’t win voters with those attacks. Judicial appointments are a big part of the reason red-state voters stick with Trump, and when you want to run in a state where Trump won by 30 points, you have to find a way to thread that needle.
Even apart from the difficulty presented, though, McGrath was spectacularly incompetent. Rather than pick a position and stick with it, McGrath let herself get pushed around — hardly in keeping with the “tough fighter pilot” political persona she and her allies hoped to build. In one fell swoop, McGrath became just another politician who tells people what they want to hear without any sense of a core set of beliefs in anything other than winning an election. You don’t have to personally like Mitch McConnell to have him come out as the better choice on firmness after this.
Can McGrath recover? We all should have stopped betting on “toast” statuses after the Access Hollywood tape, but Bade’s most likely correct. It’s not that this flip-flop-flip by itself will kill McGrath’s candidacy, but that the episode suggests that she’s at best a mediocrity in politics — and you don’t beat Cocaine Mitch with a progressive mediocrity, especially not in Kentucky. Case in point:
Get your pair before Amy changes her mind again.
— Team Mitch (Text MITCH to 47360) (@Team_Mitch) July 12, 2019