Over the past few decades, Republicans have approached primary voters during every election season with intrepid conviction and solemn promises to roll back the harmful big government policies of the left. After they win the election they do nothing consequential to actually change the rules of the game.
Most Republicans are used to opposing something so long as the opposition is only ceremonial. They never pursue the only strategy to actually block a bad bill or countermand an unpopular policy. They just like to use the issue as a political football during elections as an ends to itself.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has perfected this game over the years. He fails to take a public position or whip against a terrible idea, often hoping yes and voting no. Then he will grandstand against the policy in campaign speeches while ignoring the only means of actually delivering on that promise. This has created a vacuum of leadership in the Senate – a void which has become even more potent over the past few months.
It has become clear to any casual observer of the Senate that Senator John McCain is the defacto party leader for Republicans, serving as a conduit to deliver votes to Sen. Chuck Schumer. We’ve seen this dynamic play out on amnesty, Obama’s radical nominees, defunding Obamacare, and Syria. It is always Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham who are openly voicing their opinion on behalf of Republicans, and sometimes even whipping up votes for the other side.
When the Senate was voting to confirm Todd Jones (the man behind Fast and Furious) as Director of the ATF, John McCain was on the Senate floor whipping up votes for the Democrats, eventually convincing Senator Lisa Murkowski to switch her vote.
During the entire voting process on President Obama’s nominees and other issues this year, everyone has been asking the obvious question. Where is Mitch? Where is the supposed GOP Leader? Why is he not whipping the vote against Schumer and Reid? Why is he not even voicing his own opinion on the issue? Is it because he cannot control John McCain but really opposes him or is it because he actually agrees with him but is too scared to publicly stand by his private views, opting instead to allow Senators McCain, Graham, and Bob Corker to do the dirty work?
We are seeing the same dynamic play out with the defund battle. Senator Ted Cruz came to Washington to actually change the game. He plans to follow through with his campaign promises. What a novel idea. He plans to take an unpopular law and actually oppose it when it really counts. Not surprisingly, John McCain, Bob Corker and the backbencher progressives are hyperventilating. But once again, we hear only crickets from the minority leader, except for a few parsed statements indicating that he opposes the defund effort in general, parts of Obamacare are “okay,” and that his standalone delay bill – which will never force the issue – Is the true way to defund Obamacare.
So is McConnell really fighting behind the scenes to neutralize John McCain or is he allowing him to rule the roost?
Last week, John McCain told reporters he was supporting Mitch McConnell against Matt Bevin in Kentucky. Obviously, McCain doesn’t feel threatened by him. He is most likely empowered by McConnell.
As conservatives begin working on the 2014 primaries, we must all remember the difference between those Republicans who actually fight while we have men on the field and those who talk tough when the ball is dead. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have shown us what it means to shake up the vacuous leadership in the party. They will not allow this $7,500 tax on every family to go through. It’s now time for us to send them reinforcements. Otherwise, we will suffer through the rest of Obama’s second term with John McCain as the opposition leader.