By RONNIE ELLIS
Remember the “I Love Lucy” show when an exasperated Ricky Ricardo would demand explanation for some caper of Lucy’s?
“Luceeeeey,” Ricky would cry. “You’ve got some ’splainin’ to do!”
Matt Bevin, the Louisville investment manager challenging Mitch McConnell, had some ‘splainin’ to do last week about the apparent inconsistency of his attacks on McConnell for supporting the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program – the “bailout” of Wall Street.
It turns out Bevin was at the time president and chairman of the board of an investment firm which sent out a prospectus which praised the government for the TARP. It was signed by the firm’s vice president and investment officer – and by Bevin himself.
Bevin ’splained’ it by saying he only signed the letter; he didn’t write it; he didn’t agree with it; he was required by law to sign it.
It all strains credulity but if true Bevin has even more ‘splainin’ to do. After all, he was the head of an investment firm in which investors risked their money for a chance to earn more. They depended on the firm’s officers to give them an honest evaluation of the risk.
So what does that say about the head of a firm who appends his signature – his good name and honor – to something he doesn’t believe?
Meanwhile McConnell has some explaining to do as well. He rails against the federal debt and publicly announces that while Republicans won’t allow the country to default by failing to pass an increase in the debt ceiling, he won’t support such an increase without some deficit reductions attached.
McConnell is looking over his right shoulder at tea party Republicans who would rather the country default than authorize more debt. McConnell knows that’s not what the debt ceiling does – it simply authorizes payment of debt already incurred. But he’s got a primary to win and a lot of those tea party folks will vote in it.
Few understand the legislative process better than McConnell and he developed a strategy by which he could have it both ways. He’d allow Democrats to pass a “clean” increase with 51 votes while he voted against it. But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t go along and filibustered the measure. McConnell tried to find five Republicans who would join Democrats to end the filibuster but he couldn’t – unless he walked the plank with them.
So McConnell did the right thing. He voted for cloture, avoiding another impasse which could threaten the economy. Just as importantly – perhaps more importantly to McConnell’s dreams of exchanging his role as Minority Leader for that of Majority Leader – he avoided the political blame Republicans were sure to suffer as they did during last fall’s government shutdown. But later when the actual vote on the debt limit increase came, McConnell voted against it, knowing Democrats had enough votes to pass it.
Now McConnell must explain one vote to conservative Kentucky voters who don’t care about honoring the full faith and credit of the United States and the second to voters who do.
Of course, there’s another player in this political drama with some ’splainin’ to do – presumptive Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Grimes does as little explaining as possible about her positions on various issues. It’s understandable politically. She wants to lay low, hope Bevin weakens McConnell, raise money, conserve what she has and prepare for the onslaught of negative advertising McConnell is planning to unleash on her.
But, sooner or later, Grimes is going to have to ’splain to voters why she’d be a better choice for U.S. senator than McConnell.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.