Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 5, 2010

HEADS THEY WIN, TAILS YOU LOSE.... Time will tell what the Senate will look like next year, but chances are reasonably good that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

That said, it seems very likely that the Senate Republican caucus, currently at its lowest levels in a generation, will be considerably larger in the 112th Congress than it is now. And with that expectation in mind, McConnell has a vision of how policymaking should work.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he hopes that President Obama becomes a born-again moderate after the midterm elections and that a new, more balanced Congress brings with it some bipartisan comity.

But the Kentucky Republican made it very clear that any future bipartisanship needs to be defined by his ideological terms.

"What I hope we are going to have after November is more balance, more balance, which would give us the opportunity to do things together that simply were missing when you have this kind of disparity," McConnell said. "But, I'm not going to be very interested in doing things left of center. It is going to have to be center right. I think the president is a flexible man. I'm hoping he will become a born-again moderate."

I've read this a few times, and I'm still struggling to wrap my head around it.

McConnell wants to see more partisan "balance" in the Senate, which presumably means more give and take between Democrats and Republicans. But in the next breath, McConnell also rules out the possibility of Democrats advancing any center-left priorities -- even in a Democratic majority. "It is going to have to be center right," he said. Why? Because McConnell says so.

In other words, "I'm willing to compromise with you, unless it means you getting some of what you want, in which case, forget it."

McConnell also expects the president to be a "moderate," but consider what that means in this context. In order for Obama to meet McConnell's standards, the president would have to agree to give up on his own voter-endorsed agenda entirely, and agree to accept only center-right ideas.

So, let me see if I get this straight.

* Voters elect a Republican president and a Republican Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

* Voters elect a Republican president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

* Voters elect a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

* Voters re-elect a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

McConnell really should just drop the pretense and make this plain: he believes only Republicans should be allowed to govern, no matter what voters have to say.

Steve Benen 2:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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* Voters elect a Republican president and a Republican Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

* Voters elect a Republican president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

* Voters elect a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

* Voters re-elect a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be center right."

This can't be right.

I think the first 2 points (based on recent experience) should be:

* Voters elect a Republican president and a Republican Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be HARD right."

* Voters elect a Republican president and a Democratic Congress? The agenda "is going to have to be HARD TO CENTER right."


Posted by: marcel on August 5, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

That the repug caucus 'will be considerably larger in the 112th Congress than it is now' is far from clear to me. Reid looks safer by the day, Rand Paul is his own worst enemy, Crist will be a de facto pick up, Sestak will replace Specter who was a poster boy for DINOs and there are other races where we're threatening pickups that they'll have to defend. If the teabaggers just keep advertising their insanity and the 'mainstream' repugs fall in with them, I think the good guys, and gals, will do just fine overall.

Posted by: BillFromPA on August 5, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

The "liberal" media is all-too-happy to promote the idea that "bipartisanship" = doing only what the Republicans support.

Posted by: Don't know on August 5, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, the impartial middle aged white guy merely wants us to see the wisdom in his neutral, value free effort to make bi-partisanship to work! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 5, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Also, is Mitch McConnell's description of "bipartisan" the same as it was earlier this year and all of last year: 80+ votes?

Posted by: Anonymous At Work on August 5, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

McConnell is correct: Repubs know how to use political power to govern, albeit with a bonkers ideolgy. Obama and the Senate Dems have provided much data showing they don't know how to use the power in having the largetst majority in a generation. they really have no one but themselves to blame.

Posted by: gdb on August 5, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

And unlike Mitch, I personally hope President Obama tells you to go fuck yourself on mic Ms. McCornhole. In my dreams, I know.

Posted by: Trollop on August 5, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't it Newt Gingrich who compared bipartisanship to "date rape"? These fascist criminals aren't interested in compromise. That's why Obama should have started his administration with the largest, most sweeping criminal investigation of the outgoing Bush Administration and Republican legislators in American history!

That would have set the tone that we weren't going to take any more of their fucking games from Day One!

Posted by: Sam Simple on August 5, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please, even when the democrats had the executive branch and two houses of congress and one with a super majority they were a bunch of pussy wimps and failed to turn the tables and put the rules in their own favor to be able to lead effectively, so now their biggest accomplishment will be struck down by the supreme court because they caved right out of the gate.
Hell even in 2006 the first thing Pelosi said, was that prosecuting the past administration for war crimes was off the table, she couldn't even hold that over their heads to effect change.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on August 5, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't count on Sestak winning in Pa. The repubs are poring money on TV commercials for Toomey, that will resonate with the voters in central Pa.The news stations every evening have 2-3 commercials attacking Sestak. I have not seen one for Sestak or anything against Toomey.

Posted by: edr on August 5, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows that Republicans run things in Washington, even when they don't. The media certainly thinks they do. For Republicans, bipartisanship means they get to call all the shots. The media has accepted this definition, as well.

Posted by: Steve on August 5, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

A vote for Replicants is a vote for Impeachment!
And on the way there, all subpoenas, all the time (cf Issa, Bachmann), because it is not as though anything pressing actually needs to be done....
But. Wouldn't it be a good idea to stop playing defense and start planning how to pick up seats? The c.w. about midterms may not apply when the minority party is broke, deeply divided, heavily challenged from the right, grossly and manifestly hypocritical, and batshit insane. Not to mention they have no platform except tax cuts for the rich, apologies to BP, and repeal of health care, financial regulation, Social Security, Medicare, and a number of constitutional amendments.
Every candidate and office-holder in the Bush-Cheney party should be compelled to take a position on all these repeals, and on nullification, seccession, and birtherism, for a start. Reich wingers have their litmus tests and questionnaires. Maybe there shd be an anti-questionnaire in which they are forced to "refudiate" the kinds of violent positions that have now gone mainstream in their ridiculous party of no governance.

Posted by: Tomm on August 5, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

What in God's name motivated a beautiful woman like Elaine Chao (politics notwithstanding) to marry this pussilaminous puffball?

Posted by: Patrick Star on August 5, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I am sick and tired of the constant refrain in the comments section that Dems are just a bunch of pussies. It is clear that the two parties view the means to the end of governance very differently. It is in the DNA of Democrats to be fair and even-handed, even when it hurts their cause. It is part of good governance. The rules are important. Why in hell's name many of you think it would be a good thing for Democrats to start acting like Republicans when it comes to parlimentary tactics is beyond me? The two parties are qualitatively different, and I for one am glad for the difference. Sometimes it sucks being the grown ups.

It's not like they've gotten nothing done this term. Good grief.

Posted by: Scott F. on August 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, he's just saying stuff that makes him and his crazy nutbag caucus appear as the very definition of honesty and integrity. The "who, me?" syndrome.

Shameless, thy reflection is Republicans.

Posted by: terraformer on August 5, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Scott. Since when is the filibuster and holds part of good governance? You and too many Blue Dog Broderesque Dems prefer process and style over substance. Bipartisanship and compromise are the highest goals. It really is wussy.

Posted by: gdb on August 5, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Don't fret, Scott. Just a couple more watbs who're still upset that Obama didn't get them a pony for christmas.

Posted by: cr on August 5, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK
he believes only Republicans should be allowed to govern, no matter what voters have to say.

You're just now starting to get this?

I've been saying it since at least 2006 -- although it's not just McConnell. It's EVERY Republican.

They really, truly, in their hearts think they are the only ones who have a right to be in charge (note how I did not write "govern" or "lead"), no matter the will of the American people, voting results, etc.

Why do you think they had to cheat in 2000 and 2004? They see it as their birthright, and had no intention of letting the mere rabble have a true say.

Posted by: Mark D on August 5, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

See here, Benen. You may not have noticed, but McConnell's team of engineers has come up with a New! Improved! balance. Its fulcrum is no longer in the middle; it's now placed almost all the way to the left. That leaves about 7/8th of it as clearly right-of-center. He's not asking for anything more than what's due them.

Posted by: exlibra on August 5, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Compromise isn't possible, even if Obama came out with a center-right agenda after the midterms the GOP would just move the goal posts and fret about how extreme and ungracious Obama is.

Posted by: Archon on August 5, 2010 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he hopes that President Obama becomes a born-again moderate after the midterm elections...

Eh? Obama already is a moderate. All of the legislation that he's signed into law has incorporated Republican ideas at the expense of liberal/progressive ones. Just because Repubs turned against their own ideas for political purposes doesn't suddenly make those ideas liberal or progressive.

Saying that Obama needs to become a born-again moderate is like saying that a devout Christian needs to become a born-again Christian.

Posted by: josef on August 5, 2010 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK
Steve: "McConnell really should just drop the pretense and make this plain: he believes only Republicans should be allowed to govern, no matter what voters have to say."

Uh, no. He believes that only Republicans should be allowed to rule - which is quite different from, you know, the mundane chores of actual governance and coherent, reality-based policy development.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on August 5, 2010 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

And despite McConnell's clear intentions, the Democrats (or, at least, enough Democrats) refuse to change the filibuster. It's like they want to lose.

Posted by: Joe Buck on August 5, 2010 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

He's a Republican leader so of course he claims that only his party is fit to govern. Why is it surprising?

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Posted by: Exercise Balls on December 22, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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