As we survey the irresponsible, unnecessary but apparently intentional explosion of the political process wreaked by the President’s unilateral action on illegal immigration (not “immigration,” and mark any news organization that uses this deceitful phrase as henceforward untrustworthy), it would be wrong to omit the responsibility of Mitch McConnell and his ilk–any it is a bipartisan ilk— for getting the nation to this dangerous place.
The Republican Senate leader, now Majority Leader, is the epitome of the cynical, power-hungry politician who now dominates our governmental processes, and make them all inefficient, corrupt, and undependable. As chronicled in the e-book soon to be published in hardback, “The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell,” in his more than three decades in public service McConnell has perfected the craft of the permanent campaign, careful calibrating positions and policy measures not so much to accomplish any goal in the interests of the public and the nation, but to hold power in the next election. This is the corruption of American democracy, and reporter Alec MacGillis makes a strong case that McConnell has been one of the primary forces making sure the political process only works for politicians. It is all about the game to McConnell, and as McGillis shows, he is as deft at playing it as anybody. MacGillis writes,
“It’s the mindset that all that really matters is the next election, the next cycle. It’s not so much what you do when you’re in power in Washington; it’s what you do to position yourself for the next time around, your next re-election, your party’s next election cycle. That mindset has become very prevalent. It’s bipartisan and it also suffuses the media — but McConnell embodies it really more than anybody else.”
How does a President counter an old hand at manipulation, obfuscation and obstruction like McConnell? A good one finds ways to make it in his adversary’s interests to be collaborative. Another approach is to just let the President’s own party be directed by a politician every bit as cynical and manipulative as McConnell. Hello, Harry Reid.
The ironic aspect of McConnell’s villainy is that the most common complaint about him repeated by Obama’s defenders is false. McConnell did not come out shortly after the President took office and announce that the GOP goal was to make Obama a one-term president. He made that statement, used now as proof that Republicans “never gave Obama a chance,” in 2010, after his party took over House, and it was more equivocal than the legend would have us believe:
McConnell: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
National Journal: Does that mean endless, or at least frequent, confrontation with the president?
McConnell: If President Obama does a Clintonian backflip, if he’s willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it’s not inappropriate for us to do business with him.
National Journal: What are the big issues?
McConnell: It is possible the president’s advisers will tell him he has to do something to get right with the public on his levels of spending and [on] lowering the national debt. If he were to heed that advice, he would, I imagine, find more support among our conference than he would among some in the Senate in his own party. I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change. So, we’ll see. The next move is going to be up to him.
Rush Limbaugh, not McConnell, said that he wanted Obama to fail, one of Rush’s more stupid and offensive statements. Rush Limbaugh is neither an elected official nor a spokesman for the Republican Party.
Nevertheless, it is certainly more difficult to govern in the White House when your opposition is less focused on fixing what is wrong with the nation than staying in power, and your own party is pretty much the same. More difficult, but not impossible.
Pointer and Source: NPR