On Monday, the world got a taste of everything that is wrong with our political discourse via a single Instagram picture. A gaggle of Kentucky teenagers supporting the reelection bid of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got the bright idea to take a picture of themselves “choking” a cardboard cutout of one of their dear one’s biggest tormentors, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The condemnation was swift and severe, and with good reason. The mere thought that anyone, regardless of party, could even think it was acceptable to “joke” about a violent assault on a political foe is beyond comprehension. The fact that people this young thought this was a good idea makes it even worse.
The apparent ringleader of this deplorable band was one Davis McIntire. He proudly posted a picture of himself and seven of his friends attending the Fancy Farm Picnic, the traditional kickoff to the fall campaign season in Kentucky, “choking” AOC while wearing official McConnell campaign T-shirts. Well, by Monday night, young Davis must have realized that he had really stepped in it. He scrubbed his Instagram feed, replacing it with this image apologizing to AOC.
Contrast this with Davis’ attitude as late as Monday afternoon. When this writer reached out to Davis in hopes of getting a comment, Davis responded by taking his profile private. Earlier, when a commenter called Davis out for his despicable behavior, Davis harrumphed that she was merely expressing her opinion.
This mea culpa from Davis came a little over six hours after this writer attempted to reach him for comment. So what changed? Well, it’s very likely someone told Davis that his little “joke” in “support” of McConnell could have landed both himself and his friends in very, very, very hot water. After all, threatening a sitting member of Congress is a felony.
Even if Davis already hadn’t gotten a call from the FBI, chances are that someone at his school, Lexington Christian Academy, gave him an earful. In a statement, LCA spokesman Dan Koett said that school officials were aware of the incident, and that it “has been addressed with the students and families involved.”
Under the circumstances, it would come as no surprise if Davis was told that if he didn’t apologize, and right then, he would be expelled. Even though this was a “non-school” event, as a private school, LCA would have been well within its rights to discipline him. Indeed, there would have been a big problem had LCA not done something.
Let’s give Davis credit where credit is due. He avoided using the “sorry if anyone was offended” or “I apologize to those who were offended” baloney that we’ve seen all too often. It would have helped, though, if he’d made some effort to personally apologize to AOC.
Even with that caveat, Davis sounds far more adult than the supposed adults running the McConnell campaign. When asked about the picture, McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden couldn’t leave well enough alone. While stating that Team Mitch does not condone “any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life-sized cardboard cutouts,” he wagged his finger at the media for trying to “paint a target” on Davis and his friends.
Um, Kevin? When teenage boys see fit to joke about assaulting a woman, especially a woman who is a political foe, we’d damned well better “paint a target” on it. If you think that this kind of behavior from teenage McConnell supporters isn’t something to get alarmed about, then it explains why your campaign got the bright idea to tweet an image depicting “tombstones” of McConnell’s current and recent foes.
Even with Davis’ apology, it’s clear he’s in need of a serious reality check. Any parent with any kind of love for a son involved in this would see this as a “break glass” moment–something that needs to be nipped in the bud, and now. He needs to forget about any extracurricular activities of any kind for this upcoming school year, and probably ought to spend maybe the first week of the new year on in-school suspension. He ought to have a really hard sell to make if he wants his parents to send one penny to college–assuming any college would be willing to admit him. And of course, forget about doing anything at all with the McConnell campaign.
But more than anything else, young Davis will probably spend the rest of his life knowing he’s associated with one of the worst moments in recent American political history. And that is probably the worst punishment imaginable.
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