Irrespective of what happens to Mitch McConnell in next May’s primary, we will have to look for a new senator to run as GOP Senate Leader. Mitch McConnell has relegated himself to the position of GOP Follower.
Whenever we are looking for someone to lead a conservative fight on the most contentious issues, Mitch manages to publicly duck the fight for as long as possible. Even after he is forced to issue a statement, he carefully crafts three sentences of platitudes and non-sequiturs – all the while avoiding the central issue. Nowhere is this more evident than with the fight over defunding Obamacare in the CR.
There are three versions of Mitch McConnell when it comes to the fight against Obamacare – one in the Senate, one in campaign ads and speeches, and one with surrogates. In the Senate, he refuses to take a stance on the issue; when campaigning he brags about leading the fight to defund; through his surrogates he undermines the fight and pressures people off the defund letter. I’m also hearing that his field representatives are echoing Democrat talking points about a government shutdown.
Will the real Mitch stand up?
Mitch McConnell knows he is in hot water with conservatives in the state. That is why he got his former staffer to open a PAC for him and run ads lying about his effort to defund Obamacare.
Well, today, I think we got the real Mitch. We’re at the end of the line with the Obamacare fight. The exchanges will open in two weeks, and Mitch McConnell is voting present:
McConnell, who crafted deals to end the 2011 debt ceiling standoff and the 2012 fight over the "fiscal cliff," said it's up to the House to find a path forward.
“One thing all Republicans agree on is that we thing ObamaCare was the worst piece of legislation in the last 50 years….The question at this point is what the House will send us,” he told reporters. “It’s up to them. We will react to what they send us. And we’ll be happy to vote on it at that point.”
McConnell made clear that he supports Boehner’s call to attach spending cuts to the debt ceiling increase that will be needed by mid-October.
This has all the elements of a McConnell stance. He offers platitudes about the House sending them “something,” and he’s be happy to vote on whatever that something might be. Then, he immediately proceeds to the sequester cuts, the non-sequitur of the debate. It’s very similar to his immigration stance when he suggested that the House just needs to pass something and send it to conference. He never bothers to divulge his view on the specific point of contention.
There’s obviously a wide bifurcation between the establishment and the grassroots on the future direction of the party. But how can any faction of the party be satisfied with a leader who refuses to take a public stand on an issue, operating under the cover of darkness until his wet finger in the air picks up a potent signal? At least John Boehner is leading in the sense that he was man enough to oppose the defund effort, at least until his hand was forced the other way.
And speaking of the recent agreement in the House to pass a defund CR, now is the time for Senate leaders to unify with House conservatives and commit to standing behind the defund bill.
Where is the leadership in the Senate?