For McConnell, The Lying Trumps The Smear

Nearly two weeks later, the right's smear of 12-year-old Graeme Frost and his family is long over, but the problems for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) remain. His office was, as we now know, directly involved in pushing the attacks on the Frosts, but just as importantly, McConnell appears to have been caught lying about it.

By now, we've all heard the play-by-play. Right-wing activists went after the Frost family, and McConnell's spokesperson contacted political reporters, urging them to pick up on the story. Later, after learning that the conservative hatchet men were wrong, an embarrassed McConnell aide backpedaled and discouraged his media contacts from pursuing the bogus story.

The aide, Don Stewart, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he briefed his boss on all of this last Thursday. As it turns out, that's the problem.

Mitch McConnell can't have it both ways. He can't luxuriate in a reputation for personal caution and political control, yet claim he knew nothing about the role his office tried to play in sliming a Baltimore boy and his family when they came forward in support of the SCHIP health care expansion.

Mr. Stewart told The Courier-Journal he explained all that to his boss on Thursday. So Sen. McConnell was deliberately untruthful the next day, when he told WHAS-TV's Mark Hebert, "There was no involvement whatsoever." The senator will object to any suggestion of lying, but what else is it when you knowingly misrepresent facts?

It's clear what Mitch McConnell knew and when he knew it. It's clear he deceived the public when he answered Mr. Hebert as he did about the e-mail sent by his press agent.

Mr. McConnell is so used to Washington-style gamesmanship and inside-the-beltway rules that he has forgotten what constituents back in Kentucky want: the simple truth.

Greg Sargent wonders what the media's interest would be if this had happened to a Dem.

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