National pundits are debating the wisdom, effectiveness and fairness of Jack Conway's "Aqua Buddha" ad against Rand Paul.
Regardless of the veracity of either/both of the charges, the ad amounts to a major gamble for Conway. Down only a handful of points in most public polling, it now seems clear that this ad could make or break the race -- forcing voters to decide whether Paul's college transgressions are fair game in the context of a political race or whether Conway went too far and, in so doing, made himself look like a desperate candidate looking for a Hail Mary political pass.
Democrats in Kentucky and elsewhere seem ready to bail -- perhaps wholesale -- on Democrat Jack Conway for his "mocking Christianity" attack on Dr. Rand Paul.
"I wouldn't have done it," Rep. John Yarmuth, the popular Louisville Democrat who is also a member of the House leadership, told The Huffington Post. "And it looks like it's backfiring."
So the ad’s most dramatic claims are well documented. Whether it’s fair to dredge up irreverent college hijinks from 30 years ago is another matter, which we’ll leave to our readers to judge. Paul is out with a counter advertisement accusing Conway of "attacking Rand Paul’s faith," and saying that "Rand Paul keeps Christ in his heart."
Conway said he was "always amused" to "get a lecture in constitutional law from a self-certified ophthalmologist" and said that he didn't join the suits because there was no constitutional question when it comes to the new law.
"I'm not going to waste the resources of the Commonwealth of Kentucky on tea party politics," he said.
Paul was the candidate most often of the defensive, however, both over the issues raised in Conway's ad as well as more of his controversial past positions, such as Conway's claim that Paul once advocated for an end to Social Security. At one point, a moderator asked him to give a yes or no answer to the question of whether Social Security is constitutional or not.
"I've never challenged it and I do not challenge the constitutionality of it," Paul said.
Paul has decided not to turn the other cheek, which would be the (New) Testament way, but to hit Conway with an eye-for-an-eye, Old Testament response.
That's because in politics, the golden rule is not to do unto others as you would have them do to you. No, the rule in politics is to do to others what they have done to you.
But perhaps the most demoralizing reaction came from MSNBC's Chris Matthews, whose live show from the University of Louisville was set to begin Conway's victory tour after the U of L debate. Matthews has praised Conway in the past, suggesting he is a rising star in the Democratic Party. Yet, Matthews made his disgust with Conway clear to a frustrated Conway: