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Sometimes, politicians can speak for hours and never say anything. You know, the same old boring stump speeches.

“I’m in favor of puppies, fluffy clouds, grandparents and apple pie ... yada yada yada.”

That’s all great, but who would be against such things and — since we all learned in Economics 101 that there is no such thing as a free lunch — what are we going to have to give up to enjoy our puppies and apple pie?

The true genius of politicians is that — at other times — they can say nothing, but manage to say a whole lot.

Case in point: Sen. Mitch McConnell during his visit last week to London.

Officially, McConnell was in town to dedicate the second phase of the Joint Operations Center at London-Corbin Airport. Never mind that the ceremony took place in a not-quite-completed maintenance hangar. McConnell got up and thanked God and everyone (of legal voting age) in Kentucky for giving him the opportunity to fly in on a Black Hawk helicopter to “anoint” this hallowed ground.

After saying absolutely nothing, he “presented” a check made out to the JRC to Kentucky Adjutant General Edward Tonini. The 4-foot by 3-foot prop was even “signed” by Mitch himself, like he was giving the money out of his personal checking account. Of course, it actually was our tax dollars, which he was merely returning to us in the form of 2-by-4s, sheet metal and fiberglass, but that didn’t deter old Mitch.

The message delivered, first by McConnell and then by Tonini, focused on one part of the JRC’s mission — to help with marijuana eradication in Kentucky. I didn’t realize this state ranked second only to California in illegal marijuana production. All this time, I thought “the commonwealth” was known for its blue grass.

After all the “pomp and anti-grass,” McConnell was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk with Staff Writer Tara Kaprowy and me. Tara and I had already prepped some questions — the stimulus package, etc. — deciding to leave any mention of Kentucky’s other senator, Jim Bunning, until last. McConnell has made it clear he is not eagerly backing Bunning for another term.

I delved into the topic with as much subtlety as I can muster — keep in mind, I fix everything with either a hammer or duct tape — I asked how important it was for the Republicans to retain Bunning’s Senate seat in the 2010 election. McConnell gave a thorough answer, talking about how Bunning has opposition from two fellow Republicans — Kentucky Senate President David Williams and Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

“The race is still unfolding,” he concluded.

Figuring the interview was pretty much over, anyway, I tried to press the issue by rephrasing the question.

“Since keeping that seat is so critical to the Republican Party, are you going to get involved in the nominating process to help pick the ‘right’ candidate?”

His answer, basically a no comment, was pure genius.

“I am going to do whatever I need to do to make sure we keep that seat.”

Without saying it — at least not so he could be directly quoted as saying it — he said Jim Bunning is a dead man walking — if Mitch McConnell has anything to say about it. It’s no coincidence there are two prominent Republicans challenging Bunning, and the GOP’s minority leader in the Senate — Mitch McConnell — would certainly at least know about any effort by state party officials to nudge Bunning aside.

That has all been clear for some time, and I am not deluding myself that I “got something out of” McConnell. Quite the opposite.

He walked away, able to continue pulling strings from high above the stage, while others kick Bunning in the seat of the pants. He also was able to make that getaway without compromising himself or telling a direct lie.

I knew what he meant.

He knew I knew what he meant.

Further, he knew that no matter how Tara or I wrote up that conversation, any Republican Party faithful reading it would know what he meant.

McConnell is not visibly campaigning against Jim Bunning, but not campaigning for him is sinking the former major league pitcher’s chances with each passing day.

Bunning has no chance. McConnell knows it, I know it and almost every Republican in Kentucky knows it.

Only one question remains: When will Bunning figure it out?

Contact Joseph Dill at jdill@sentinel-echo.com.

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