Florida Republican Kurt Kelly is slamming Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, suggesting that his absence during a war-funding vote might mean the freshman lawmaker actually wants American troops to die.
In a Friday appearance on Fox Business, Kelly ripped into Grayson for not attending a House vote earlier in the week to provide funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"He missed the vote. He took a walk on the vote to provide supplemental funding for our soldiers,” Kelly said in the interview, which Kelly’s campaign advertised on its YouTube page Monday. “He put our soldiers, our men and women in the military, in harm’s way and, in fact, maybe he wants them to die.”
I know nothing about Kurt Kelly -- maybe he's ordinarily a great guy, and he just kind of lost his head there for a minute. But what interests me are the consequences, or lack thereof, for this kind of thing. Sure, it got Kelly into Politico, and Grayson and other Democrats will condemn it. But will it really harm Kelly's chances? Will reporters use the episode as emblematic of his personality and shortcomings, as they do when a candidate says, oh I don't know, "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it"?
I doubt it. One of the pathologies of modern campaign coverage is that candidates almost never get punished for things they say about their opponents. Reporters will be all over a candidate who inflates something about his own record, but they tend to let even outright lies about opponents slide, without ever asking whether lying about your opponent means you're basically a liar. Or, in this case, a gigantic dirtbag. Why that is I've never quite been able to figure out. But it never seems to change.
-- Paul Waldman