Reporters are very upset that Mitch McConnell’s campaign jokes about the bizarre, racist attacks against his family – Washington Examiner
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not making light of drug abuse. He is not making light of drug cartels.
You would think otherwise, though, based on recent reporting.
“Mitch McConnell wants to raise money off the nickname ‘Cocaine Mitch.’ Yes, really,” the Washington Post tut-tutted in a headline.
The article itself includes quotes from experts whose opinion amounts to: That is not funny.
“McConnell Fundraising With ‘Cocaine Mitch’ Shirts in Kentucky, State With Third-Highest OD Rate,” reported New York magazine’s Intelligencer.
Here is the backstory to these scolding headlines: Failed West Virginia senatorial candidate Don Blankenship in 2018 attacked McConnell’s family. In one ad, the then-GOP candidate said, “One of my goals as U.S. senator will be to ditch Cocaine Mitch.” A second ad saw Blankenship say, “Swamp captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people. While doing so, Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars.”
By “China family,” he means McConnell’s wife, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
The second ad concludes: “[We’ll] ditch Cocaine Mitch for the sake of the kids.”
The “cocaine” storyline dates back to 2014. Back then, Colombian officials discovered cocaine aboard a bulk carrier in the service of a New York shipping company. The shipping company belongs to Chao’s family. Not McConnell or ever Elaine Chao herself. Her family. That is the entire basis for Blankenship’s “Cocaine Mitch” nickname. The “China family” stuff was racist icing on the stupid cake.
The senator’s campaign has since appropriated Blankenship’s idiocy for its own purposes. It now markets products that say “Cocaine Mitch,” turning a smear campaign into a positive. Smart. Embracing an attack or an insult is one of the surest ways to kneecap an assailant. If that assailant also happens to be a weird racist, even better.
If you can believe it, though, members of the press have taken offense to the “Cocaine Mitch” campaign swag.
While McConnell’s “campaign was high-fiving supporters, drug policy experts said McConnell downplayed the drug-addiction crisis in the nation, which is particularly acute in his state,” the Washington Post said this week in the trolliest of concern trolls.
It adds, “And that story line of McConnell’s perceived insensitivity is what made it into the national press.”
My, did that storyline get “into the national press” all by itself?
“The Bluegrass State had the nation’s fifth-highest age-adjusted drug overdose death rate in 2017, according to federal data,” the Courier-Journal added on an even more somber note. “That year 1,566 Kentuckians, or 37.2 people per 100,000, died of drug overdose, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.”
It added, “The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy attributed 51 of those deaths to cocaine.”
“[S]ome are speaking out against the shirts, suggesting they are inappropriate or hypocritical,” said ABC News. More than half of the report is dedicated to giving the senator’s critics a platform.
Spare me the fake concern.
Imagine taking this tone when President Barack Obama joked about birtherism. Imagine accusing Obama of making light of racism. Imagine quoting “experts” who say Obama’s jokes come even as people of color suffer every day.
McConnell’s family faced dumb, racist attacks in 2018. He is laughing it off now. Good for him. Journalists should do their jobs and leave the scolding to Democratic partisans.