Do Republican Voters Really Believe That Blatant, Unabashed Lying Is OK For Their Crackpot Candidates?
Last week, the CNBC Republican debate in Boulder inspired us to try to figure out which of the candidates was the biggest liar. Friday the National Memo asserted that even some conservatives were dismayed by the non-stop barrage of lies by their pathetic deep bench of candidates. "They prevaricated about themselves, their policies, and their opponents, without blinking an eye-- and for the most part, they got away with it."
Sam Youngman, probably the most respected political reporter in Kentucky, looked at the same phenomena but for tomorrow's Kentucky gubernatorial election. Matt Bevin, he's discovered, is a congenital liar. He wondered aloud, what's a reporter to do?. Bevin, it turns out, is very much like fellow teabagger Marco Rubio.
For about the last two years, Matt Bevin, the Republican candidate for governor, has angrily lashed out at anyone who questioned whether he has had tax problems in the past.Kentucky hasn't been kind to Democrats in recent years. Both senators are right-wing Republicans and of the state's 6 congressional districts, only one is held by a Democrat (basically the city of Louisville). The only congressional candidate to get even 40% of the vote last year was Elisabeth Jensen, who was beaten by Andy Barr 147,404 (60%) to 98,429 (40%). And last cycle Alison Grimes-- who spent $18,829,908 on her high-profile race against the much-disliked Mitch McConnell-- only won 10 of Kentucky's 120 counties. Obama lost the state to Romney 61-38%. But tomorrow it looks likely that Democrat Jack Conway will beat Tea Party Republican Matt Bevin. The latest Bluegrass Poll shows Conway ahead 45-40% with Independent candidate Drew Curtis pulling 6%. The same poll shows that 38% of voters hold an unfavorable view of Bevin compared to 32% with a favorable view. Maybe all the lying is catching up with him. Maybe it will eventually catch up to Fiorina, Trump, Rubio and Carson as well... Maybe.
When voters have asked him about it, Bevin has called the claims bogus and bunk. And if you own a television, you've probably seen the clip of him saying "I have no tax delinquency problem, nor have I ever."
So it was pretty remarkable earlier this week when Bevin admitted to the Associated Press in an interview that he had in fact been late in paying his taxes at least 30 times.
"Sometimes you do pay it late and you pay interest on having paid it late. But you pay the taxes," Bevin said. "That's a cost of capital. You do this all the time in business."
So that takes care of that, right? Mystery solved?
In my hometown of Owensboro on Thursday, I started to ask Bevin about these inconsistencies on the tax issue, citing the AP story and mentioning the 30 times he has been late on his taxes.
After initially ignoring me, Bevin responded by saying, "That's actually not true."
So I asked: "The Associated Press has that wrong?"
"They sure do," he said.
For Bevin, this confusing and contradictory kind of reply isn't the exception. It's a pattern that started when he was running for the U.S. Senate and has continued through this election.
It has given his opponents and their supporters-- from Mitch McConnell to Hal Heiner to Jack Conway-- ample material with which to question Bevin's honesty.
And it has created a nightmare for Kentucky's political reporters.
On his taxes, his positions on health care and early childhood education and his problems with his own party, just to name a few examples, Bevin consistently shoots from the hip with statements that just aren't true.
And when he is confronted, often with video evidence of him saying something different, he gets mad, putting those reporters on his enemies list and ignoring their questions or, as he did with me and a few others this week, calling them "an embarrassment to their profession."
That last statement, made to Kentucky Public Radio, came just days after Bevin refused to answer my questions following the debate at Eastern Kentucky University.
When Bevin wouldn't take my questions, other reporters asked why, to which Bevin responded that he had had a "private conversation" with me to explain why.
The problem with that? That conversation never happened.
Seriously. It never happened.
After he said that, I admit I was completely flummoxed, asking Bevin when that conversation supposedly happened.
He didn't answer.
I am under zero illusions about the current standing of the media in this state and this country, and I won't pretend for even a second that anybody is going to weep for political reporters.
Frankly, I think the media deserves some of the criticism that is coming its way.
But I'm not a moderator at a CNBC debate. I'm a Kentuckian. I was born and raised here. My family lives here. It's my home.
I also have two functioning eyes and ears. When somebody says something, then turns around and says they "never ever" said that very thing, I tend to regard that as a break from the truth and worthy of a news story.
I'm not out to get Bevin, and I'm not trying to elect Jack Conway.
I will not vote in this election, just as I have not voted in any election that I've covered for more than a decade now.
But I also won't be intimidated into ignoring obvious and consistent patterns of a candidate saying things that are demonstrably untrue.
I've covered more candidates and elections than I can remember. I've been doing this-- from school board elections to presidential campaigns-- about as long as Bevin has been a Kentuckian.
If he wants to attack me and other reporters for questioning the veracity of his statements, that's fine.
It's nothing new to me, though I will admit that he takes it to a level I've never experienced before.
And if this column seems self-serving or defensive, I apologize. Maybe it's both.
But Kentucky voters deserve the truth. And it's my job to do what I can to get it for them.
Bevin's opposition to the state's Medicaid expansion also appears to be hurting him with registered voters, a majority of whom favor maintaining the eligibility expansion that Gov. Steve Beshear implemented two years ago.A.P. reported that in last week's final debate, the 2 candidates pounded each other pretty well. According to reporter Adam Beam, "Republican Matt Bevin implied Democrat Jack Conway was not smart enough to lead the state. [Although I think most Kentuckians who aren't, like Bevin, banksters, agree that this sounds pretty damned smart!] Conway said Bevin was too angry to be Kentucky's next chief executive. The candidates spent an hour on Kentucky Educational Television talking over each other as they tried to reach voters... Conway accused Bevin of distorting his record, and after the debate told reporters Bevin does not have the temperament to lead. But near the end of the debate, Conway tried to take the edge off by complimenting Bevin for adopting four children and giving them a "wonderful home."
Fifty-four percent of voters said they wanted the state's next governor to maintain the expansion. Twenty-four percent said they would like to see the expansion repealed, which Bevin has promised to do if elected. Twenty-two percent were not sure.
Support for maintaining the expanded health insurance program, which serves mostly low-income residents, reaches across the state's different regions and extends to about a third-- 34 percent-- of Republicans.
Forty-two percent of Republicans said they would like to see the expansion reversed, compared to 13 percent of Democrats. More than two-thirds of Democrats-- 69 percent -- said the Medicaid expansion should be maintained.
"These campaigns get heated, but Matt, when I look at you and your family, without a doubt you have provided some children that wouldn't otherwise have a wonderful home with a wonderful home and that is something to be respected," Conway said.What a dick! He probably lost 2 points of Tuesday's vote with that bit of East Coast banker nastiness.
Moderator Bill Goodman asked Bevin if he had anything positive to say to Conway as the two enter the final week of the campaign.
"I look forward to you having the opportunity to join the private sector," Bevin said.
The Courier-Journal reported last week that "Conway leads among both men and women, but his lead is greater with females. He leads among voters under age 34 and over age 50, with Bevin leading among those in between. The two are essentially tied among white voters, while Conway has a substantial lead among African Americans. Some 8 percent of likely voters who say they are 'strong Republicans' say they’ll vote for Conway, while only 3 percent of “strong Democrats” say they’ll back Bevin. And, possibly still showing anger at Bevin’s challenge to Mitch McConnell in last year’s U.S. Senate race, 15 percent who say they are 'very conservative' and 21 percent of those who say they are 'conservative' say they’ll vote for Conway. Just 3 percent of those who are 'liberal' and 'very liberal' say they’ll cross over and back Bevin. Conway leads among all education levels and among those who earn less than $80,000 a year. Bevin leads among those who earn more."