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Benton & McConnell: A Drama Worthy of Shakespeare

James R. Carroll | Kentucky Courier Journal

You know the scene. The title character in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” is in the Capitol when he is stabbed by conspirators, including his friend, Brutus.

“Et tu, Brute?” a stunned Caesar says as he collapses.

“Just kidding!” Brutus replies.

At least that’s the way Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, staged the scene last week.

Benton was recorded in a telephone conversation saying: “I’m sort of holding my nose for two years, ’cause what we’re doing here is gonna be a big benefit to Rand (Paul) in ’16, so that’s my long vision.”

After at first denouncing the embarrassing secret audio as “sick,” the McConnell campaign released a picture on Facebook, showing Benton holding his nose and a smiling senator pointing at his campaign manager.

Just kidding!

Well, few political observers believed the “humorous” nose-holding picture was all there was to the story, although, for the moment, those observers also wouldn’t say Benton’s Brutus-like move was as fatal to McConnell as it was to Caesar.

But it was a wound nonetheless — and a sensational political story, for a number of reasons.


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'much like his master's ass'

Benton: " I am not what I am"

'Just kidding'

" O, sir, content you;
I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by them and when they have lined
their coats
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;
And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am"

-- Othello, Act I, scene 1

It's a brilliant piece of drama.

McConnell [and the Republican Party] is far more worried about losing his seat to a Democrat than losing it to a Republican challenger. They attempt to shoot the moon here. The stage is set for the long haul. It's all about the general election.

What I posted:

This is a fairly apt simile: The Beatles were managed by Brian Epstein, who until that time had managed no one to stardom. Did Epstein make the Beatles, or did he just happen to get lucky & sign the super group of all time to his management? You be the judge. Then, Lawrence Welk, who hasn't had a hit record in years, hires Brian Epstein (if Epstein hadn't died), in order to have a hit record with the same Beatles demographic. Do you think Epstein could have made the teen through 30 years of age record buyers, purchase Lawrence Welk albums? There's your answer & why I could not understand how MM thought Benton would be an asset to his campaign, unless he's severely deluded.

Michael Nystrom's picture


So what is Benton doing over there?

He's the man.