It's great that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell wants to debate his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
We applaud him.
Just as noteworthy is McConnell's rationale for wanting to hold all three of his proposed debates by "around Labor Day."
That schedule, McConnell wrote to Grimes, would allow them "to present our views before Kentuckians are inundated with advertising" — as if the impending flood of negativity and distortion is some kind of unavoidable natural disaster over which McConnell has no control.
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In point of fact, few have done more than McConnell to unleash the tsunami of unlimited and secret political giving that is turning our elections and Congress into giant sewers of special-interest money.
Political reporters are saying that Grimes v. McConnell will be the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history with $100 million, much of it from murky outside groups, unloaded on unsuspecting Kentuckians
McConnell's arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, including his mantra that speech is money, have held sway with five of the nine justices and helped demolish long-standing limits on money in politics, dating back to Theodore Roosevelt.
Interestingly, the McConnell camp's first general election jab at Grimes is a super PAC's commercial criticizing her support from "Hollywood's most liberal political activists."
Raising questions about a candidate's supporters is fair game; voters should consider to whom their representatives will feel beholden.
But under the anything-goes campaign finance championed by McConnell, voters are being kept in the dark about who is pulling whose strings. Billionaires, corporations and unions have been freed to legally conceal contributions through non-profits and committees.
Notably, McConnell has opposed strengthening campaign finance disclosure requirements.
If he is serious about the inundation, he should take Grimes up on her offer to ask outside groups to stay out of Kentucky's Senate election.
There would still be plenty of money for the campaigns to get their messages out. In Massachusetts in 2012, candidates Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown agreed to what they called "The People's Promise," calling on outside groups to stay out and still set the record for spending in a Senate race.
In his letter to Grimes seeking debates this summer, McConnell said, "Kentucky voters will get their fill of campaign ads and scripted events this year but three Lincoln-Douglas style debates will provide an excellent format to evaluate our true views on the issues."
We fear that what McConnell really means is: "Let's dispense with the substance early, so the run-up to the election, when people are really paying attention, can be a super mud storm."