Yesterday on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, she asked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about a recent Roll Call article that framed me as one of the loud leaders of conservatives opposed to Mitch McConnell. The Senator from Kentucky responded that he had never heard of me and I did not have an audience.That sounds a bit like the child, when asked if he ate the cookie, replying that he had not and besides it did not taste good. If he’d never heard of me, how can he comment on my audience? If he states plainly I have no audience, how can he claim to not have heard of me? His remarks also came less than a day after I came out publicly against bronies, the adult male fans of My Little Pony. I hope that’s just a coincidence.Mitch McConnell’s remark is just another example of him being vastly overrated as both a strategist and tactician. He claims to have advanced the conservative cause, but told Laura he has to be mindful that to govern Republicans must reach out to all Americans. Perhaps that is why in 2010, with the rise of the tea party, Mitch McConnell backed Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey, Charlie Crist against Marco Rubio (McConnell staffers went to Florida to help Crist), Robert Bennett against Mike Lee, and Trey Grayson against Rand Paul.I grew up thinking Mitch McConnell was a right wing warrior. It turns out he’s just a typical Washingtonian appropriator who has presided over a massive expansion of the welfare state doing not much more than issuing bold platitudes as he cuts deals to expand government spending and along the way made some major tactical and strategic blunders that groups like ACORN were able to thrive.Let’s review the record.
In the 1990’s Mitch McConnell, then the Republican manager against the Motor Voter bill, made the brilliant tactical decision to not filibuster the motion to take up the bill. Consequently it passed. ACORN and other left-wing groups were emboldened to do what they’ve done over the past two decades. Yes, people forget that it was Mitch McConnell’s tactical decision to let Motor Voter get to the floor of the Senate despite the warnings of what would happen. Passage of that law made it ever easier to engage in voter registration fraud. McConnell had the votes to stop it from being considered, but once it got to the floor of the Senate everyone knew there were enough wobbly Republicans who would not dare go on record actually opposing it on passage.In the early 2000’s when McCain-Feingold went through the Senate, McConnell yet again cut out the legs of its opponents telling them not to worry because he’d let the Supreme Court do their dirty work for them and kill it. McConnell lost in the Supreme Court.Mitch McConnell’s more recent record makes clear he is more interested in being Majority Leader than advancing any sort of conservative principles. It’s all about McConnell.He is an appropriations cardinal in the Senate who has routinely stymied fiscal conservative efforts to rein in spending by Senators Coburn, DeMint, and even John McCain.Recall, if you will, Senator McConnell didn’t just vote for the Wall Street bailouts, he rescued it from near defeat by adding earmarks to TARP after it failed in the House.As I mentioned, in 2010 Mitch McConnell backed Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey, Charlie Crist against Marco Rubio, Robert Bennett against Mike Lee, and Trey Grayson against Rand Paul.After House GOP made a stand on payroll tax this past winter, McConnell pulled the rug out and cut a deal with Harry Reid that paid for a payroll tax cut with increases to home mortgages. Allen West said he felt betrayed over this.McConnell personally recruited Senator Roy Blunt to stop conservative Ron Johnson from winning a key leadership spot.McConnell vowed to block conservatives from forcing votes on full repeal of Obamacare this year, then flipped and said he’d force votes in March when RepealIt.org threatened to run ads for him to resign, He has yet to keep his promise to force votes. McConnell’s loyal lieutenants in the Senate, at the time, explained that forcing full repeal votes on the Democrats would undermine their ability to cut deals with Harry Reid.Senator McConnell just last week voted with Senate Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee against Paul Ryan’s budget spending levels. Last year McConnell refused to whip support for Ryan’s budget when it came up for a vote in the Senate.Senator McConnell and his allies frequently say he has to do what he does because they must keep the moderates to be in the majority. Except 2010 gives the lie away. In races conservatives absolutely could win, McConnell sided with the moderates. Behind the scenes, on issues like Obamacare that remain hugely unpopular with the American people, McConnell cuts deals with the Democrats instead of forcing votes.McConnell is emblematic of all that is wrong with Washington, D.C. He covets power relentlessly and only acts when it is threatened, then only doing so much as to stop the threat without actually leading. Along the way, he has been deeply complicit in putting our Republican in a position of bankruptcy.I may be a nobody with no audience, but Mitch McConnell is a leader with no spine to lead.