January 15, 2008
Many of us, especially those who are parents and Kentucky residents, have no trouble recalling situations in which we experienced empathetic humiliation for people who seemed totally oblivious to the fact that they were making total fools of themselves. While others snickered, and the oblivious guy remained smug, we empaths struggled to balance disbelief, sorrow, the urge to stop the ill-advised behavior and, sometimes, disgust, making the situation uncomfortable on many levels.
The first couple hundred times I heard Mitch McConnell make a statement that would have shamed a rational person into permanent hiding, I was sad for him. His wide-eyed, pursed-lipped grin gave him an overgrown Dennis the Menace appearance, or made him look like a sweet old guy who couldn't possibly have made it to his position without a brain cell or two. I credited him with difficulty thinking on his feet.
When I finally realized he was permanently wearing his foot in his mouth and showing no discomfort, I thought it was my duty to try to save the poor man. I sent letters, pointed out his errors, and entered a new realm of lunacy - McConnell correspondence.
My first letter to Mitch McConnell addressed the gross error in his, "Kentuckians care more about static cling than campaign finance reform," statement, made on the senate floor and televised for the world to see. (I almost left Kentucky over that one.) After discovering how gratifying it was to participate in the salvation of my state's reputation, I wrote every time I heard or read a flawed opinion from Senator McConnell, at least until the doctor reminded me that I was not allowed to work a full time job.
I was less forgiving with his letters than I had been with his speeches, since he had time to review and reflect before sending them. It wasn't as though he shot back a personal response; they were form letters, seldom addressing my opinions or questions, and not quick to arrive.
In fairness, I returned a few of his letters, documenting my thoughts and emotions as I read each line. I wanted him to understand how he had insulted me, in case he was not doing it purposely. For example, when he started his letter with "as you know" and proceeded to tell me the opposite of what I had said in my letter, and the opposite of what the world knew to be true, I understood that to mean one of three things. He disregarded my concerns, had not read my letter, or did not understand English, any of which would be cause for concern.
The latest problem is so baffling that I have not addressed it. In November 2007, McConnell's face cropped up amid the flurry of off-year election ads. He surely was not giving up his Senate Minority Leader position to run for Agriculture Commissioner or Governor. My first thought was that he was supporting or endorsing one of the republicans running for office, but that was not the case.
The McConnell ads continue still. I see Mitch McConnell's face on my television almost as often as I see Clinton, Obama, McCain, and Huckabee. Not only do I wonder what fantasy writer he hired to script the ads, I want to know why he is running them. Did he forget that 2007 was an odd year? Is he practicing for a presidential race someday, or is it exciting to see his ads mingled with theirs? Is Elaine ignoring him so he needsa little public love? Is he testing to see how many fabrications the public will swallow, or how long I'll wait before I write? Does he think he's a comedian?
On a positive note, he might not trust his fellow Republicans who say, "With his resources, he can't be beat."Maybe he is seeing that yes-man Republican dollars aren't all it takes any more, and knows he needs a running start on the 2008 race.