Who is Jack Tough? Meet Jack Conway, Democrat from Kentucky

Viewers of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night might have been confused when Doug Heye, the communications director of the RNC, referred to Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for Senate from Kentucky, as "Jack Tough." Maddow, being hip to everything, knew though: someone posted a video on YouTube mocking Conway's self-description as "one tough son of a bitch." It contrasts "tough," such as conservative hero Chuck Norris, with "Jack Tough," which is John Edwards' getting his hair styled, or Conway when he was blond a few years back. The video is clever, which is why Heye turned down Maddow's repeated offers to disavow it. (It seems to have been removed from YouTube although the reposting cat-and-mouse game is sure to continue).

Why are Republicans always mocking Democrats' fortitude? What makes, say, Rand Paul, "tougher" than Jack Conway? Not that a willingness to send others to fight wars in foreign lands should be the measure of one's strength, even on national security, but for those who care, Paul is as dovish as most Democrats.

But the stereotype of Democrats as weak or feminine has been an effective campaign tactic for Republicans at least since Chris Matthews coined the phrase "Mommy Party" to describe the donkeys. Remember when Ann Coulter used an anti-gay slur to describe Edwards? Or the way John Kerry was stereotyped as wishy-washy and Barack Obama was accused of liking arugula too much? It's pretty silly and sexist. But it often works.

Who is Jack Tough? Meet Jack Conway, Democrat from Kentucky | U.S.