Player’s Choice: Grimes Dodges While Davis Punches

October 16, 2014

For more on this post, listen to Alan Kelly on SiriusXM POTUS 10-16-14

When caught in a corner or just trying to catch up, politicos might consider the influence plays of the provocative kind, two in particular.

The Crazy Ivan, is a high-risk, high-reward play that’s a decent last ditch.  Call it rushing a rival, charging the charger, attacking the attacker, etc., the trick to this play is to possess (1) the clarity to know that you’re out of options and (2) the guts to run it.

Screenshot 2014-10-15 16.14.51Witness Kentucky Secy. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes who wants to be a blue U.S. senator in a red state.  But being a good Democrat, she bears the weight of an enormously unpopular president and a veteran Republican incumbent who knows his bluegrass voters — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Odds are, McConnell has made sure that reporters have asked his opponent, “Did you vote for the president?”  Simple.  Clever.  Killer question.

In their debate this week, Grimes was asked it once more.  And again, she sought shelter in framing strategies that shift context, notably a Screen on ballot box confidentiality.  But cornered as she is, her plays conveyed as suspicious Deflects or Red Herrings.  “Our constitution grants here in Kentucky the right for privacy at the ballot box, for a secret ballot,” she lectured.  “I’m not going to compromise a constitutional right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or other side, or for members of the media.”

McConnell, the better chess player, countered first with a Trump, cheerfully volunteering his voting record for Mitt Romney and John McCain.  Then, when Grimes attempted to cast herself as a Clinton (not Obama) Democrat he ran a simple Recast, saying, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two.”  Barely one media cycle later, Grimes awoke to the news that the DNC was pulling its media dollars and moving on, no doubt to more viable campaigns.

Crazy Ivan, defined as “the deliberate acceleration by a threatened player of an impending attack or problem,” might have been Grimes’ better option.  It might have inspired these responses:

  • Of course I voted for the president, you all know that.   And now by demanding to know this you’ve robbed me of my right to privacy.
  • I did vote for the president, and I wished at the time, as I do now, that there were other choices.
  • You’re asking me to say something I don’t want to say.  If the answer is yes, I’ll be painted as an Obama Democrat, which I am not.  If the answer is no, I’ll be painted as a liar.  Are you done having fun with me?
  • A hint of Red Herring might have worked as well.  To shake skeletons of her rival she might have dared, You want to play gotcha?  I’ll answer that question when Mitch McConnell releases his medical and service discharge records.

Screenshot 2014-10-15 21.11.59In Texas, State Senator Wendy Davis wants to be governor.  Like Grimes, her opponent is an entrenched white Republican whose most notable point of difference is the wheelchair that serves his paralyzed legs — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

To the typical politico, this might seem like something to tip-toe around, but Davis — the gunslinger that Grimes is not — has used it as 11th hour target practice.  By way of another provoking play, the Call Out, she has aired this ad, giving Abbott no love for his pain and suffering and casting him as a hypocrite for his callous rulings against similarly stricken accident victims.

To no one’s surprise but perhaps Davis’, callous is the Label that’s been slapped on the senator, even by left-wingers who see the ad as out of bounds.  But Davis is nothing if consistent, battling back without a blink, insisting on and repeating her premise that Abbott is a hypocrite, however handicapped.  She has run the riskier plays and derived the notoriety she needs to win.  The question is whether or not her plays will be judged as more skillful than mean and more of what Texans want in a new governor.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, they’ve probably already decided that Mitch is still their man.

Post by Alan Kelly

Video credits: CBS News and NBC News