Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 1, 2010

MCCONNELL DEFENDS HIS PETTY PARTISANSHIP.... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) caused a minor stir last week, insisting in an interview, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.... Our single biggest political goal is to give [the Republican] nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful."

The remarks were not well received. Democrats were outraged; President Obama emphasized the quote in his weekly address; and even Joe Scarborough, not exactly a liberal, characterized McConnell's comments as "embarrassing" and "pathetic."

Today, McConnell dismissed the criticism as "laughable," and said he has no regrets for having made the comments.

"I know the president's goal is to get a second term. It's not surprising that Republicans would want him to not get reelected," McConnell said in an interview with POLITICO. [...]

McConnell said in a phone interview Monday that the attacks are "kind of laughable" and said Democrats are only focusing on him because "they don't have much to talk about."

At first blush, this might seem like a vaguely persuasive defense. McConnell's a Republican leader; the president is a Democrat. Of course it makes sense that McConnell would like to see the president serve only one term.

But this badly misses the point of the controversy.

For one thing, McConnell didn't just say he wants the president to lose in 2012; McConnell implicitly argued that he intends to use the levers of power to ensure the president's political destruction. Indeed, instead of talking about job creation or national security as his top priority, McConnell described Obama's defeat as "the single most important thing we want to achieve."

If policymakers are going to have to compromise next year to get anything done, how can Obama expect to work in good faith with GOP lawmakers whose only real goal is to crush him?

For another, the larger context matters. As Paul Krugman noted the other day, "If you read the full interview, what Mr. McConnell was saying was that, in 1995, Republicans erred by focusing too much on their policy agenda and not enough on destroying the president: 'We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him. By the summer of 1995, he was already on the way to being re-elected, and we were hanging on for our lives.' So this time around, he implied, they'll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama."

Let's put it this way: imagine if, in 2002, Tom Daschle announced publicly that no matter what happened in the midterm elections, he and his caucus would use their power to undermine President Bush at all costs, and the desire to limit him to one term would be the caucus' single greatest priority, above literally everything else facing the country.

Do you suppose Republicans and political reporters would have something to say about it?

Steve Benen 4:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Its apparent that McConnell is representing monied interests and not the living breathing constituents of his state and the nation

Thomas Jefferson—“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Posted by: Kill Bill on November 1, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Another difference is that when you're President, one of the best ways to get re-elected is to do good things for the country. The incentives are supposed to align correctly. Not so with the McConnell strategy.

Posted by: DonBoy on November 1, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Do you suppose Republicans and political reporters would have something to say about it?

Yes, and it would have had something to do with Al Gore and fatness.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on November 1, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard for me to believe that even in hindsight McConnell thinks that the Republican Congress that came into power in 1994 didn't set out to destroy the Democratic president. I was here during the government shut downs and I have no idea what he is talking about.

Posted by: Barbara on November 1, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Your liberal media at work.

Posted by: Stteve on November 1, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bah! Daschle was too busy plotting terrorist attacks with Bin Laden to undermine President Cheney. I know it's true because Republicans said so and the MSM said some people said that.

Posted by: Another Steve on November 1, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

McConnell and the new speaker will be perfect foils for the President. I am actually glad that this nonsense has come in an off year election. He will wipe the floor with them.

Posted by: hornblower on November 1, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Since the reporter class doesn't report that McConnell has allowed his political ambitions to damage the country, McConnell is entirely correct in his approach. His number one priorty must be to destroy the Obama presidency, country be damned.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 1, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sensing the deeper currents of history

McConnell is just giving voice to what was true before Barack took the oath of office. Smart Democrats realized this early in the game and focused their wrath and their writing on teabaggers and republicans. Benen, Kleiman, Chait, and Ezra Klein are good examples.

Liberal purists failed to sense this deeper current and lost focus quickly. Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamster come to mind. Instead of seeing the true nature of political progress (gradual evolution not punctuated equilibrium), as a slow steady push up the field, they bitched, not about republicans and teabaggers, but instead at the Obama Administration. Jon Stewart's interview with Obama is perhaps their crowning whining moment. (Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned by a Democrat.)

Just for the record: I bitched about Geithner and Summers quite a bit. It fact I was becoming a gadfly about it. But 6 months into Obama's term it became quite obvious that the zombies were ascendant again. I then vowed not to write one scathing word about our side. The other side is so damn horrific it demands all our energy.

As a case in point consider McConnell's quote.
The guy is a pig fucker out to destroy Barack. Always has been.
At the very least: We must give him no aid.
And that my friends, is sensing the deeper current of history...

Posted by: koreyel on November 1, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's why we are becoming a 3rd World country. Plain and simple. Bitch McConnel is getting all the support he needs from the rich, the rich wanna be hanger-on-ners at Politico, and the simpleton american electorate so enamored with the ones slicing their throats.

Nauseating on so many levels...

Posted by: stevio on November 1, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'd also argue that McConnell is tipping his hand in a way he didn't expect to tip.

He's basically acknowledging that Obama is such a political force, destroying him HAS to be their number one priority.

Were Obama the train wreck they like to think he is, they owuld just go about the process of governing best they can and let Obama's supposed ineptitude destroy him without any help from the peanut gallery. But he's better than that, or at least, REPUBLICANS are tacitly admitting that much. They're going to have fun trying to destroy him 24/7. But if they're going to destroy him, they'll have to work at it 24/7. And even then, it may not work.

Posted by: slappy magoo on November 1, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think you know that IOKIYAR


Posted by: fourlegsgood on November 1, 2010 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

...The Democrats should have fought Bush tooth and nail.

...It would have been the good fight, not the enablers they ultimately became.

Posted by: Blue Shark on November 1, 2010 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter McConnell: "God forbid anything should happen to Obama, but on November 3rd we will work to abolish the Secret Service!"

Posted by: DAY on November 1, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

well I am yet to be convinced the present day GOP works 24/7 on anything. They're more a 6/3 sort of crowd.

Posted by: Jamie on November 1, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democrats should have fought" -- Blue Shark

There, fixed that for you. No need for any other words; that's a sufficient epitaph.

Posted by: Chris on November 1, 2010 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"...they'll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama."

That's "President Obama" to you. You traitorous little slimy nazi b*&*(_d.

Legally elected by the citizens of the country President Obama.

Posted by: Marnie on November 1, 2010 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

There are actually some people who have no redeeming social value and should not be allowed to breath the same air as those who love this country and I am afraid that Mitch has lost his value, if he ever had any. Probably went along with his chin.

Posted by: mishanti on November 1, 2010 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

The monied interests are out to destroy anyone who gets in the way of their absolute rule over the rest of us.

That means don't let anything happen that will make the masses grateful to the Democrats. And when the Democrats do accomplish something good for the people, such as lower taxes, see to it that most people don't find out.

Posted by: mim on November 1, 2010 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

I commend McConnell for the most honest statement of this political season. Maybe the only one. It's almost like a breath of fresh air. We need more of this truth-telling if only to know what we're dealing with.

Posted by: beejeez on November 1, 2010 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

More significantly than checking to see if Mr. Brewer was alive was not bothering to find out the protocol of how people in the past had registered.
And simply looking at he actually forms filled out would have quickly answered the question.

Posted by: Marnie on November 1, 2010 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

But Duhbya showed us he starts a cord pull chain saw just like a girl.

Posted by: Marnie on November 1, 2010 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

well that's quite a description when a nasty dried turd like McConnell is a breath of fresh air

Posted by: Jamie on November 1, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The GOBPers have nothing to talk about. McConnell is a troll.

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on November 1, 2010 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

McConnell was honest enough to tell us HOW. I hope he soon announces to the public WHY.

I think the public would be interested in an open and honest description of McConnell's vision of the future.

Posted by: Seould on November 1, 2010 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter McConnell: The purpose of power is power.

Posted by: allium on November 2, 2010 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

I really, really enjoyed looking DOWN on Mitch McConnell... and glaring DOWN at him as we passed each other in the Capitol. I only wish I'd have thought in that instant to also trip him with my size 10's. (At least I could have claimed it was an accident so as to avoid jail, which would have been my fate had I punched him, as would have been my preference.)

Posted by: Hannah on November 2, 2010 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans have goals. Democrats, at least Democrats in Congress, have only "positions" and promises.

Posted by: Helen H. on November 2, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK
"imagine if, in 2002, Tom Daschle announced publicly that no matter what happened in the midterm elections, he and his caucus would use their power to undermine President Bush at all costs"

Frankly, I would have gotten behind him if he had said that, and in retrospect, I suspect a few other Americans might have also. I still wish Daschle and the Dems had managed to block more.

Apparently, that's how the majority of right wingers feel about Obama at this juncture of history. There's a total disjoint between their world-view and what they perceive as Obama's. Anything he might do would be wrong, therefore, everything must be blocked. It's not so much "to hell with the nation as a whole" as "this is how we'll protect America AND cause its restoration."

A good politician (ahem-"BillClinton") would understand how to work with that.

Posted by: zandru on November 2, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

At a time when more Americans will begin to lose their minds than will lose jobs, homes, or health care, his rhetoric seems to be part of the problem.

Posted by: Dredd on November 2, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

This is politics guys and girls. We are not having a self esteem group, or a bonding experience. This is a battle between ideas and policys. I would think less of McConnell if he hadn't said this. If you think the Democrats didn't want to get rid of Bush you have been drinking kool aid.

albuquerque scott

Posted by: scott on November 2, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, though they did not announce it so blatantly as all that, Democrats did, in fact, use their power to undermine Bush at all costs. "Shocked! Shocked I am!"

Posted by: INTJ on November 2, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK



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