FRANKFORT — Last time Kentuckians elected a U.S. senator, some of the poll results in the final months of the campaign prompted me to push the envelope of hyperbole by employing the phrase "stoned-on-locoweed, running-screaming-through-the-streets-in-your-altogether crazy" in a column.
(Okay, maybe I shattered the hyperbolic envelope there.)
It wasn't so much the numbers that set me off, although there was a significant fluctuation in a short period of time. Rather, it was what those numbers said about conflicted voters channeling their anger, fears and even bigotry in ways counter-intuitive to their own best interests.
Semi-retirement has mellowed me quite a bit since the 2010 race between now-Sen. Rand Paul and Attorney General Jack Conway. So, instead of pushing any hyperbolic envelope, I'll just say some results from the latest Bluegrass Poll seemed, well, gosh darn odd. (More on "gosh darn" later.)
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For instance, the poll found 55 percent of respondents favor raising the minimum wage. It also found 55 percent of respondents favor a "right-to-work" law, which would allow employees to work in any business without joining or paying dues to a union.
Talk about conflicted messages.
I'm no more a fan of union bosses than I am of robber barons. Generally speaking, they're all looking out for themselves. But it's a simple fact of history the labor movement of the past gave us the minimum wage (along with other creature comforts for the working class), which currently qualifies as an "extreme dieting wage."
So, while I agree with the "right-to-work" concept in theory, I recognize a victory by modern-day robber barons in their crusade to destroy unions effectively would kill the possibility of any foreseeable (or maybe ever) increase in the minimum wage, which will soon become an "anorexic wage" if left unchanged.
Package a right-to-work law with a guaranteed inflation-indexed increase in the minimum wage, and I'll listen. Give the robber barons what they want without regard for the huddled masses, as Republicans at both national and state levels propose, and you've lost me.
Which brings us to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's recorded confab with the Koch bothers and their fellow millionaires, where he vowed, if he becomes majority leader, to never allow votes on "gosh darn" proposals such as raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits or providing relief for college students overburdened with loans. (On the latter issue, he prefers students go to for-profit colleges where they will incur even greater debt.)
Much of the latest Bluegrass poll was conducted before McConnell's kissing up to the Kochs and their buds became public knowledge. And all of the poll was conducted before McConnell's former campaign manager Jesse Benton resigned after an Iowa state senator pleaded guilty in a bribery scandal involving former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, in which Benton was Paul's political director. (Benton, who is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter, also ran Rand Paul's general election campaign in the 2010 Senate race.)
So, lots of potential repercussions for McConnell (and Rand Paul's presidential and Senate re-election aspirations) are not reflected in the latest Bluegrass Poll. And McConnell isn't helping his cause by refusing to answer questions about what he knew regarding Benton's involvement in the bribery scandal when he hired him in an effort to suck up to the Tea Party wing of Kentucky Republicans.
Both of these revelations give Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign lots of fodder to attack McConnell.
But, back to polls revealing voters' counter-intuitive attitudes. The latest Bluegrass Poll found 52 percent of voters trust Grimes to do a better job of dealing with issues that improve women's lives compared to 31 percent who trust McConnell.
Sure, there is a lot more at stake in this election than women's issues. But with Grimes so far ahead on this issue, the fact the Bluegrass Poll results only gave her a 1 percentage point lead over McConnell among women voters may not be "stoned-on-locoweed, running-screaming-through-the-streets-in-your-altogether crazy." But it certainly is "gosh darn" odd.
One other note: A central plank in the platform of McConnell and Republicans who want to flip the state House of Representatives for the first time in almost a century is repealing or otherwise neutering the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare and known in Kentucky as kynect.
More than 500,000 Kentuckians now have health insurance courtesy of ACA, Obamacare, kynect or whatever you want to call it. Basing a campaign on canceling health insurance for those more than 500,000 Kentuckians strikes me as way more than odd.
And on Nov. 4, if any of those more than 500,000 newly insured folks vote for Republicans who want to take away their insurance, they most assuredly are "stoned-on-locoweed, running-screaming-through-the-streets-in-your-altogether crazy."
Reach Larry Dale Keeling at firstname.lastname@example.org.