(Isle of Palm, South Carolina, August 7, 2013) - The beast flattens lower to the ground and freezes in place as his prey stumbles. With piercing eyes and a soft release of energy, the wolf curls his lips upward ever so slightly. The gesture a macabre smile as it exposes the killing razor sharp fangs. His movements taking place well out of sight of the prey left behind by the herd.
Whisperers in the dark and the hidden halls of political power in Washington DC are that Mitch McConnell has stumbled and now is in serious trouble. Word is circulating that the smart money is for cutting Mitch loose, throwing him to the wolves.
In the spring, there was little doubt on the question of loyalty to McConnell. It looked like he would sail to an easy victory.
As the summer wore on, the combined humor impact from the Daily Show, Colbert Report, Letterman, and other cable comedians and talking heads focused in on making fun of what the Kentucky senator said and how tired he looked. Now, every missed step or weird sounding attempt to go to the right of the Tea Party made Mitch look like he was melting down, unable to exercise hard political power in Washington.
Democrats were getting charged up. First they set their sites on Hollywood star Ashley Judd. She bowed out.
In July, the leading Democratic potential challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes brought her party faithful, her posse, together for a powwow on her future. Grimes asked all at her confab in Lexington to advise her whether to go after the Mansion in Frankfort or the US Senate.
In the end, Grimes and her supporters opted for a Senate race. The 34 year old lawyer, the top vote Democratic vote getter in the state’s last statewide election, decided that the 71 year old Senator was vulnerable.
For a brief second, the whole national and state political world in America paused. Mitch McConnell, the ultimate Washington DC insider had a challenger. She would be the first to step up, but not the last.
With Alison’s entrance into the campaign, all of a sudden the old man senator had to face a real threat from back home.
Kentucky is a land of contrasts. Modern Kentucky makes almost 100% of the world’s bourbon, yet 90 of the state’s 120 counties are officially dry. Kentucky is home to rednecks, harsh fiscal conservatives, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, progressive liberals, Roosevelt and Truman Democrats and traditional middle of the road Republicans, all coexisting in the Bluegrass State. Each group would soon be trying to make sense of a world gone politically crazy. As Grimes came from the left, McConnell would face a challenge from the right.
(2) Attack ads
Before the young Grimes made up her mind to fight Mitch, he had already eliminated another woman who dared to even think about a run for his job. Movie star Ashley Judd considered a serious fight against Mitch. However, before she could mount any type of organization or money, Mitch attacked. The old Republican warrior went after the actress like she was fresh meat to a starving wolf.
The attack ads tore into Judd’s life as an actress, alleging a troubled past with personal issues, a glamour girl with no right to be in Kentucky politics.
The ads were personal and vicious. Judd made the decision not to be destroyed by McConnell’s machine and she gave up even considering running for the Senate seat.
The McConnell ads worked all too well. Yet, in the mind of many Kentuckians, these attack ads were too hateful and mean spirited. The vicious force of these ads became the first cracks within McConnell’s massive killing machine. The ads backfired with many senior citizens and rural areas church faithful.
(3) Primary Fight
Right after Mitch drove Judd out of the race, he bragged about it, over and over. He stated to the political world that he would destroy any that dared to challenge him.
The week before Fancy Farm, Kentucky’s political world was shocked when Tea Party Matt Bevin filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State to run a primary campaign against Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s attempt to head off a challenge from his right by hiring Jr. Senator Rand Paul’s campaign manager was not enough to placate Tea Partiers.
While McConnell’s campaign told reporters that the primary would be only a distraction and Grimes was the real opponent, no one remembered to tell Bevin. He and his supporters turned up at Fancy Farm ready to ring their bells for the first round of the 2014 election.
Grimes drew her own challenger in Ed Marksberry, a little known and underfunded candidate.
(4) Fancy Farm
In any hot Kentucky political year, the first blood letting takes place at Fancy Farm Picnic. This is a two event where some 19,000 lbs. of barbecue is served to home folks and city visitors.
The fight at this year’s Fancy Farm is over. Mitch is weaker for it.
Matt Bevin came out a new Republican rock star. Grimes won by surviving and standing up to the redshirts of Team Mitch. Even Democratic challenger Marksberry spent his speech time at Fancy Farm criticizing not Grimes, but McConnell.
Marksberry went so far as to criticize McConnell’s facial features, joking that McConnell’s chin disappeared because of kissing so much corporate butt. The comment drew another laugh and media mention at the expense of the senior Senator who didn’t stick around to hear anything but Grimes’ speech.
A quiet dinner at a Washington restaurant, the topic for discussion: the future and fate of one loyal old soldier.
Powerful men discussed events at Fancy Farm.
“He’s looking too tired on camera.”
“Yes, we can’t let him mingle with large crowds, too many ways that could go wrong.”
“He’s outlived the investment we have in him. Time to cut the cord and regroup with newer stock”
“His strategies no longer work. He has made everyone in Washington mad at him. It is time to change and reboot our power base.
“Time to unleash the Wolves.”
Some say that in the darkness within the shadows of Washington, along ancient forgotten alley ways and streets with secret doors, there exists a wolf pack that only devours weak and crippled politicians. These wolves hunger for those in power losing their powerbase. They prey at night when no one but the prey can see them too late.
By the light of day, their work is reported by the media, the coyotes who share a hunger for catching the weakened of Washington in career ending events.
In the dark of night, McConnell stares at the retreating herd moving through Georgetown, leaving him behind. His colleague Lindsey Graham stands with him out in the open.
With the last light of day, the shadows move in.
The herd comes to a complete stop, sniffing the cool late summer air.
It is safe now.
The wolves are feeding.