Thursday, February 05, 2009

The reservation called; they're looking for John David Dyche

To be a so-called political analyst published in Kentucky's largest newspaper, John David Dyche surely doesn't write or think like one.

His most recent offering is so laughable as to make one wonder just what he's been smoking. He destroys all credibility he may have ever had with his assessment of the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Kentucky.

He states at the top that Trey Grayson and Crit Luallen are the two best candidates to run for the office currently held by Jim Bunning. That premise is flawed in and of itself, but the justification he uses to support that opinion is beyond explanation.

Let's look at Dyche's comments and dissect and refute them.

He says that Grayson deserves first shot at the Republican nomination should Sen. Jim Bunning change his mind and decide not to seek re-election. Why? What makes Grayson, a relative neophyte to politics and elective office, deserve a shot over longtime congressmen like Ed Whitfield, Hal Rogers or Geoff Davis? Dyche mentions Grayson's twice winning statewide office. What he doesn't mention is the first victory was on Ernie Fletcher's coattails, and his re-election bid was over an unknown and underfinanced candidate who couldn't ride Steve Behsear's wave.

We have been rightly critical of Grayson for his reprehensible failure to support his party's governor when the Democrats started attacking (his trial balloon at Fancy Farm about running for governor in 2007 has forever poisoned our outlook on Grayson) but despite that, we see nothing in his background that makes him more qualified to be a senator than any of Kentucky's congressional delegation, or even folks like Mike Duncan or Cathy Bailey, who've played on a national stage and are comfortable there.

But his assessment of the Democrats who are in, or thinking about getting in, the race is most troubling.

Dyche dismisses Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, the only announced Democrat candidate, almost out of hand. We don't understand where he's coming from.

While Mongiardo nearly beat Bunning six years ago, most of that is Bunning's fault. Mongiardo was not exactly a respect-inspiring candidate in 2004, but he did step up for his party and he almost pulled a huge political upset. Dr. Dan's strong showing in that race instantly made him a prominent force in Kentucky politics, and it made him attractive enough to be asked onto Gov. Steve Beshear's ticket. While it's true that the two of them have since had a major falling-out, Mongiardo obviously brought something to the table for Beshear to want him on the slate.

"Mongiardo has not accomplished much in politics," Dyche writes. "Nothing in Mongiardo's record reveals readiness to deal with issues of national and international magnitude." And what, exactly, in Grayson's background does? In terms of political readiness and experience, we'd most certainly rank Mongiardo ahead of Grayson, due mostly to Mongiardo's legislative experience.

Dyche gets it wrong again in his assessment of Crit Luallen, who seems to be tied with Attorney General Little Jackie Conway in the ranking for the potential candidate most favored by Kentucky's far-left Democrats. Dyche says Luallen has earned bipartisan respect as an aggressive but fair auditor.

Excuse us while we do the "Animal House" cough. You know, "bulls--t." Luallen has shown a very partisan bent in her audits, going after Republican local officials with such ferocity that she is rivaling Greg Stumbo for partisan abuse of office. We were glad to see one county judge-executive recently go on the record in his local newspaper as saying he felt a negative audit report was politically motivated, despite the fact that the expenditure in question was signed off on by both state and federal officials. Luallen has gone out of her way to target GOP local elected officials and she should be called out on it.

Dyche also calls Luallen "personable." Since when did "personable" become a synonym for "untrustworthy back-stabber and power monger?" For that is exactly what Luallen is and always has been, dating back to her political appointive service under a multitude of Democrat governors. She has knifed a number of folks and climbed over their fallen bodies to reach a position of power. We doubt she'd do well as one of 100 in a place where she couldn't wield a shank with impunity.

Bunning's near-loss in 2004 portended his vulnerability, and the shifting political winds have only enhanced that tenuous position. We can't support Bunning because of his failure, like Mitch McConnell, to support his party's governor in a time of assault from the opposite party, and we think it's time he step down with dignity. But we certainly don't think Trey Grayson is the best possible replacement, and we don't think Conway or Luallen are better choices as a nominee on the other side than Mongiardo.

At one time, Dyche was a credible conservative Republican analyst. He comes from a long line of respected GOPers from the London and Somerset area, Kentucky's Republican stronghold. But over the past couple of years, his opinions have become more scattershot. He's become more of a McConnellite than a Republican; indeed, he's working on a biography of McConnell.

This time, though, he's totally off the reservation in his assessment of potential Senate candidates. We don't like Mongiardo's politics, but we certainly don't think as little of him as Dyche does. We find Mongiardo to be a credible and qualified candidate who doesn't bring the baggage of a Luallen or the inexperience of Grayson or Conway.

We're sure the reservation misses Dyche and wishes he'd hurry back.