Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Beauty and the Senate Beast (No Fairy Tale)

If Ashley Judd unseats the Senate Minority leader in 2014, could Ugly Americans sue for prejudice? Not if handsome is as handsome does.

Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr., on government payrolls all his life, is now the tenth richest Senate member, with a reported fortune somewhere between $9,839,049 and $44,587,000 in 2010.

In four years he has transformed the Upper House into a minority-deadlocked filibuster machine devoted to “the single most important thing we want to achieve...President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Failing that, McConnell is still ferociously blockading government at the fiscal cliff, even as rational Republicans begin to abandon his lost cause.

McConnell’s time as a D.C. tyrant is clearly running out, but would a movie star (pace Ronald Reagan) make a suitable replacement? The surprising answer is that, compared to the Gipper when he entered elected politics, Ashley Judd looks like Winston Churchill.

Two years ago, she earned a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government after enrolling “to immerse myself in some very serious, earnest, practical learning with people who have literally dedicated all they have to public service.”

Her enrollment followed years of political activism, which included speeches to the UN General Assembly about sex-trafficking and to the National Press Club about strip-mining in her home state of Kentucky as well as serving on the board of PSI, a global health organization, on such issues as maternal health, family planning and malaria prevention.

If she decides to challenge McConnell (and it looks like she will), Ashley Judd will have to beat back campaign charges that she is just another Hollywood figure trying to capitalize on fame. But her history would contradict that, and her Kentucky roots run deep.

As the daughter of country singer Naomi Judd and sister of Wynonna, the would-be senator has been enthusiastically involved in the local culture all her life. No one could accuse her of being a carpetbagger or an Ashley-come-lately.

And there would always be the added bonus of seeing her face on cable news to replace the woeful countenance of Mitch McConnell spinning his anti-Obama webs.

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