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Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Help Republicans Look Anti-Cronyism

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Did you happen to catch this story the other day at National Journal?

“Only one week after Sen. Mitch McConnell took the CEO of Delta Air Lines to breakfast in the exclusive Senate Dining Room last month, the airline executive and his wife wrote $10,000 worth of checks to help fund McConnell’s political operation.

The donations, which were reported to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, made Rick and Susan Anderson the largest contributors to McConnell’s Bluegrass Committee in July. Delta Air Lines’ PAC contributed another $2,500 within days of the breakfast.

The proximity between the meal on Capitol Hill and the date of the donations provides a window into how modern Washington works.”

Let me state this clearly: This kind of thing, and this specific thing, is a problem. And as much as we here at RedState are supporting Mitch McConnell for re-election, this needs to be pointed out.

One of the things that writers at this site generally believe has most damaged Republicans politically in recent years, and which most shows their lack of commitment to conservatism, is allowing cronyism to take over.

Cronyism not only offends conservatives, because it leads to already powerful forces in society getting a hand up or a hand out from government – inherently entailing market interference and/or corporate welfare that wastes taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Cronyism also offends conservatives, and worries us insofar as its electoral implications are concerned, because so often cronyism involves what looks like substandard ethics both to us and to voters in general. Government officials do favors for big business and other special interests that enable them to make more money, exert more power, grab more market share, more easily shut down competitors and opponents, and so on – big business and special interests whose leadership just so happens to spend big money electing and re-electing these people.

The free market, taxpayers, ordinary Americans and limited government lose.

But the crony-enabling politicians and their financiers keep on winning.

Except when they don’t. In 2006, Republicans had a lot of ethical issues. But while we remember Mark Foley, let’s not forget about all the scandals involving earmarks, exploding spending benefiting special interests, etc etc. And while the left likes to argue that Republicans lost in 2006 because of Iraq, in actual fact, it was ethics problems that did the party in.

TIME magazine:

“But in the end, what appears to have mattered most was Congress’ own behavior. Fully 74% of voters surveyed in exit polls ranked corruption and ethics as important in determining their votes; by comparison, 67% said that about Iraq. The lack of progress in Iraq helped nationalize the elections, but multiple scandals (Abramoff, Foley) appear to have driven home an urge for massive change.”

Yes, everyone is talking about the overwhelming probability of Republicans retaking the Senate in November. But Republicans’ leader in the Senate – the party’s poster boy for many voters – getting tagged for giving red carpet access to someone who has major, major business in front of Congress and who subsequently writes a big, fat check to get him re-elected is really not helpful to ensuring that does in fact happen. It’s also unhelpful that a key piece of that business appears to be blocking crude oil exports from the US, a position that is completely incompatible with economic conservatism.

But that’s by the by. The issue that we have is that the guy who Democrats constantly like to invoke as the face of the party and who isn’t exactly looking at a cakewalk of a re-election effort himself is doing this stuff.

I’m sure that if anyone from his team responds to this article there will be some great explanation about how nothing untoward happened.  And that’s all fine and dandy if it’s true but let’s not pretend that the Republican Party hasn’t had some brand issues in the past with convincing its own base, much less independents, that they aren’t simply in Washington to get rich and cut deals. If Mitch McConnell wants to be a leader then he needs to lead the party away from that image.  Not provide all new and very convincing ammo to the opposition.

Sometimes optics do matter. And the optics of this scene suck. Get it together.

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