Mitch McConnell Going Moderate? I Wouldn't Count On It
caption contest in comments
No one has been a worse obstructionist to a positive progressive agenda in the past two years-- other than George Bush-- than Mitch McConnell, who basically spent virtually all of his time since the 2006 midterm elections knocked the GOP into the minority, filibustering one proposal after another. Today's NY Times refers to him as Senator No. And although Senator No just won his toughest ever re-election battle and is "safe" for 6 more years, he just watched Senate seats in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Alaska, Oregon and North Carolina go from red to blue (incumbent colleagues having been defeated in the four latter cases). Two seats remain undecided, a razor thin recount in Minnesota that may have to be decided by the Democratic-led Senate itself, and a close run-off in Georgia. And regardless of what happens in Minnesota and Georgia, 2010 offers the surging Democrats an opportunity to take the GOP entirely out of the legislative game. Republican-held Senate seats likely to be captured by Democrats include states where Obama triumphed, like Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio and North Carolina. And Democratic strategists see opportunities to take away red seats in states where McCain won, Louisiana, Missouri and McConnell's own state of Kentucky, where there have been persistent rumors that the other KY senator, Jim Bunning died several years ago. There may be not be much McConnell can do to resuscitate Bunning or his miserable political career, but he certainly knows that presiding over another half dozen Senate defeats in 2 years will end his own, at least on the national state.
So what's a corrupt, reflexive reactionary like McConnell to do? Does he go whole hog back into obstructionist mode like GOP extremists from Know Nothing states-- Jim DeMint (R-SC, who wants his job), James Inhofe (R-OK), the loony Wyoming twins, Johnny Isakson (R-GA), David Vitter (R-LA), John Kyl (R-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX)-- are demanding? Or does he steer his caucus in a more moderate direction and support the popular new president's efforts to pull the country out from the mess created by years and years of failed Republican policies?
There is also anger and frustration from the confused, pissed-off Republican base. The GOP grassroots is up in arms and a lot of their animus is being directed towards McConnell, Boehner and other Inside the Beltway hacks.
The California Republican Party has an idea for a path back to power, and McConnell isn't on it. Neither is House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Meeting in San Diego, the board of directors of the California GOP recently passed a resolution "expressing concern about Republican leadership in Washington, D.C."
The resolution states that "since losing our Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2006, our Republican leadership in the Capitol has failed to unify Republicans against obscene and wasteful federal spending such as expanding entitlements, approval of the ever-bloated farm bill, and support for an irresponsible federal government 'bailout' of Wall Street that included no institutional fixes to ensure government intervention in the market would be curtailed."
The Californians also criticized Republican leaders in Washington for failing "to present a clear distinction with the Democrats because of their inability to unify Republicans against big government spending like the programs mentioned above."
Is there any real push for moderation inside the Republican caucus? Presumably Olympia Snowe, the last remaining moderate Republican is pulling in that direction. No one, except Democrats, cares what she says. Susan Collins, fresh from an electoral victory that leaves her safe for 6 years and filled with anger towards Democrats and a yen for revenge, can't be counted on. Before Arlen Specter, if he runs again, faces off against a moderate Democrat in 2010, he is likely to have to beat off an extreme right wing lunatic fringe Republican in a no holds barred primary. Like Specter, George Voinovich (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) are mainstream conservatives up for re-election in two years and all could face primary challenges from the far right fringe of their own party if they are seen as favoring "collaboration with the enemy."
The Times calls McConnell "genteel" (which is an absurd way to refer to someone who was kicked out of the army for grabbing an enlisted man's private parts) and "cagey," and offers some hope that he may be turning over a new leaf.
Senator McConnell is pronouncing President-elect Barack Obama off to a good start with an opportunity “to tackle big issues and to do them in the middle.” We have heard it before. Yet the heartening twist from the minority leader, newly re-elected after a race he found too close for comfort, is that he is quoting from Mr. Obama to make his point, retrieving a bit of prophecy from 2004, when the Democrats despaired in the minority and Senator Obama observed: “Whoever’s in power is going to have to govern with some modesty and some desire to work with the other side of the aisle. That’s certainly the approach I would advise Democrats should we regain control.”
Sounds like what McConnell has actually been saying, though, is that as long as Obama adopts Republican policy positions, he'll go along with him. Last week he promised the radical right Federalist Society that he would do his best to undermine President Obama's judicial nominees. According to McConnell "judicial nominees who have identified themselves with political causes in line with the interests of favored groups, including some of the politically correct ones identified by Obama during the presidential campaign, might not be able to keep their oath to uphold the law." I kind of think the Times was a little naive in its assessment today. A view from some Villagers: