In the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Virginia, it wasn’t as if George Allen’s lead collapsed the day the video of Allen tauntingly calling a Democratic staffer “macaca” came out. It was the first in a chain of events — Allen’s multiple, convoluted explanations, news of his Jewish heritage & his virulent rejection of it — that prompted voters to ask themselves, “Do I really know who George Allen is?” When they took a second look at Allen’s phony cowboy boots next to Jim Webb’s combat boots … well, you know how that went.
At TPM this morning, Josh Marshall says Rand Paul’s inability to offer any coherent explanation to the Aqua Buddha controversy may have similarly shaken Kentucky voters’ faith that they really know who Rand Paul is:
It’s his response that seems weird. Why won’t he just deny it? Or say it was a college prank and move on? And what’s with the grandiose backing out of the final debate? Why won’t he show up and face the guy who smacked him? (Paul’s actually kept this one in suspense. He’s going to announce [Friday] whether he’ll show up for the second debate.)
In other words, it’s sounding like a pretty good example of what I’ve called “bitch slap politics”, a form of political gambit in which the substance of the attack is less important than showing the recipient can’t or won’t defend himself.
It took Webb weeks to close the gap with Allen, while Jack Conway has only days to catch Paul. But the gap is much smaller. Could we be looking at an upset in Kentucky?