Frankfort hosted the grandest political shotgun marriage it has ever seen yesterday, as Rand Paul and the Tea Party welcomed the TARP cheerleader and most prolific tax dollar appropriator in the history of the Senate with open arms, with Sen. Mitch McConnell speaking at his first Tea Party rally.
We’ll have much, much more on this fascinating tango happening between these two political forces in Kentucky in next week’s LEO Weekly, but here’s a rundown of the sights and sounds and screeching feedback from yesterday.
After a torrential downpour subsided, around 300 people gathered around the steps of the capitol building to yell and scream about how nasty Obama and Obamacare are. Even George Washington.
But around 30 of those people had a different message the entire day. As you can see in the signs below, Some random liberals or Democrats or whatever else showed up to express their approval for Obamacare, and their disapproval of Mitch, Rand, and the Republican Party.
Just before the speakers, a very loud chant of “Hey hey, ho ho, Mitch McConnell has got to go!” sprung up. After a confused minute, the Tea Partiers countered with a loud “U-S-A! U-S-A!”, because obviously these counter-ralliers who don’t want people to die because they lack health care hate their country. They sure showed you!
The counter ralliers continued chanting throughout the speeches by McConnell, Paul, Damon Thayer and Jeff Hoover, at a volume that was totally unavoidable to hear. There were some near skirmishes with angry Tea Partiers, but it didn’t break out into anything serious (i.e., head stomping).
After a couple of Louisville Tea Partiers spoke about how Mitch McConnell being present showed that the Tea Party is not going away, Rand Paul got up to the mic, which by this time was screeching uncontrollably with feedback (actual feedback, not Paul’s voice).
Rand said his wife joined left-wing bloggers in making fun of him for saying the Supreme Court didn’t decide what was unconstitutional, but that he stands by his belief that Obamacare (“the whole damned thing”) is unconstitutional. He also made this very bizarre statement:
“When we get in charge, we are going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with market reforms, with a health care system that will provide health care for everyone at a reasonable cost.”
Health care for everyone? Has Rand Paul gone Nanny State on us? What would Ayn Rand think?
At this point, the mic was uncontrollably screeching and had to be turned off while they worked on it, as Mitch McConnell sat silently wondering what kind of amateur hour he stumbled into.
After the break, Rand Paul let all of the Tea Partiers know that Mitch McConnell is their kind of guy, because he fights so hard to let insurance companies deny people coverage for having a pre-existing condition.
Mitch McConnell then got to the mic — to polite applause — and returned the favor to Rand Paul, saying how grateful he is the Tea Party elected the guy he opposed so hard in the 2010 GOP primary. What a love fest.
The crowd cheered for his slobbering over Paul and foaming over Obama — his standard bashing of Obamacare and the “one-term president” schtick — while the Democrats in the crowd loudly chanted “Ditch Mitch!” Mitch finished after a brief four-minute speech, then both he and Paul bolted out of the capitol, not waiting to mingle with the crowd, talk to reporters, and listen to the rest of the speakers. Typical of McConnell, but Rand Paul, too? We figured these were his people.
State Sen. Damon Thayer then stepped to the mic, which was interesting considering Senate President David Williams was there, looking over his shoulder behind him with a pouty face the entire time he spoke to the friendly crowd. As you can see, David was not amused.
We asked rally organizer David Adams why Thayer spoke instead of Williams, considering he had rank over him, and he said that Williams “was not invited.” Ouch. I guess either the Tea Party is still bitter over the 2011 gubernatorial primary, or they just preferred not to be associated with him.
Thayer did his Obamacare routine, and then went down the Birther wormhole:
“We need you to help send Barack Obama back to Chicago or Hawaii or wherever he wants to go,” yelled Thayer, which was followed by a literal chorus of screams behind me of “Kenya!!!”
Thayer, clearly hearing this, smiled and laughed, replying, “I’m not going to say that, but I appreciate your sentiments. You know what we’re saying here, folks.”
Wink, wink and lulz, Damon.
Rep. Jeff Hoover then spoke, going off-message for most of his long speech bashing Greg Stumbo and calling for the Tea Party to help Republicans take back the state House this November.
But what did the individual folks in the crowd think about McConnell’s big Tea party debut? Is he now part of the club, or will there be future initiation rites of passage that he must continue to undergo? We’ll have much more and that, as well as the political dynamics within this odd couple shotgun marriage, in next’s weeks LEO — but we will say (as other media reports have already found) that the reception was quite mixed, and that there’s a long way to go before there will be any consummation.