Ever since Senator Mitch McConnell sensed some vulnerability from his Republican base in Kentucky, he has cunningly voted the right way on most major issues, but of course waiting until the outcome was no longer in doubt. McConnell’s painstaking management of his voting record began in two tranches – a mild drift to the right once Trey Grayson was defeated by Rand Paul in 2010 and an acerbic turn after Matt Bevin started toying with a Senate run.
However, despite the shift in his actual voting record, McConnell has continued to artfully advance his real agenda of big government, an agenda which is shared by his puppet-masters on K Street. As the party leader, McConnell sits back on any contentious issue and privately hopes yes while voting no. He has declined to whip the votes; he hasn’t even put out a statement in support of the conservative position until the vote is cast. The desired outcome for Mitch is that the capitulation be made; the bad bill wind its way to the President’s desk, but his hands remain clean of any wrongdoing.
This modus operandi was completely demolished today.
McConnell showed up at the weekly Steering Committee lunch today to berate Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz from pushing the undocumented Democrats to take tough votes. This meeting is traditionally a conservative get-together dating back to when Jim DeMint used to run it. But McConnell and his minions hijacked the meeting and began pointing fingers at Cruz and Lee.
The establishment Republicans wanted to vitiate cloture with a unanimous consent agreement. This would have achieved their desired outcome in which the debt ceiling would pass, but it would be delivered to Obama’s desk with only Democrat votes.
Cruz and Lee had this weird idea that maybe we should actually refuse to give Obama a blank check, especially when Republicans have the votes to stop it. Moreover, Senator Harry Reid has shut down the amendment process in the Senate. Blocking cloture is the only leverage conservatives have to force Democrats to vote on amendments, even if Republicans plan to support the bill in the end. McConnell claims that he just wants to remain idle and coast until the November elections in order to win back the Senate, but ironically, we will never win back the Senate if we don’t force Democrats to take embarrassing votes on amendments. There was no reason this bill needed to pass today; we could have dragged this out into a protracted fight on popular spending cuts. Yet, McConnell wanted to get out of town early and wash his hands of this issue.
After the meeting, McConnell still thought he had enough members to deliver the 60 votes to Harry Reid. But rank-and-file members had enough of McConnell’s cowardly leadership – forcing members to take bad votes that he privately supports while not being man enough to own the policy. After a frenetic effort to get Republicans to flip their votes, McConnell was forced to go down and vote for the crap sandwich himself.
Ask yourself this question: Come this fall, how can you motivate a Republican activist to knock on doors for the purpose of electing a Republican majority that is run by Mitch McConnell?
Well, if we all mobilize to throw out these quislings in the primaries, that question will hopefully become moot.