2 3/4 Cheers for Mitch McConnell

CPAC is drawing to a close. The speakers who got the most press, and the most enthusiastic receptions, were mostly those you would expect: Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was also well worth listening to, and to some, I suspect, surprisingly hard-hitting:

There has been talk about a primary challenge to McConnell next year by someone ostensibly more conservative. We conservatives have done some stupid things in recent years, but trying to unseat McConnell would be a new low. McConnell is a solid conservative; his lifetime ACU rating, after 28 years in the Senate, is certifiably right-wing at 90%. And McConnell has done, I think, an excellent job as minority leader. It is true, in general, that the Senate’s rules tend to make the majority leader look inept and the minority leader look like a genius; that said, as I wrote here, McConnell has repeatedly bested Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

The Democrats would love to take McConnell out. It appears likely that their candidate will be actress Ashley Judd. Judd may seem like a strange choice; she knows little or nothing about politics, has said lots of dumb things over the years, doesn’t live in Kentucky, and is the least talented member of her own family. But she satisfies the Democrats’ principal criterion for office: she has lots and lots of money, and can raise much more from her friends in Hollywood.

Miss Judd may be over the hill as an actress, but she shouldn’t be underestimated as a political candidate. We live in an age of celebrity, and many low-information voters–always a majority–will flock to an attractive Hollywood personality who spouts liberal platitudes and gets a pass from the press. The dumbest thing conservatives could possibly do is challenge one of their own, Mitch McConnell, split the Republican Party, and potentially allow a far-left nonentity like Ashley Judd to become a senator, thereby destroying any chance the GOP may have of capturing that body next year.

The Democrats hurt themselves by launching a racist attack against McConnell’s wife, from which the party was forced to officially distance itself. In the short term, the incident helped McConnell. But the Democrats’ race-baiting is a reminder of how vicious their 2014 campaign against McConnell, and other Republicans, will be. The party needs to be unified in 2014, and we can’t afford to weaken our own candidates with foolish primary challenges. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen in Kentucky.