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November 08, 2012 5:17 PM Social Promotion

By Ed Kilgore

Not being a real close observer of the internal politics of Mitch McConnell’s cozy club of Senate Republicans, this lede from Politico’s Manu Raju caught me by surprise:

John Cornyn’s path to become the Senate GOP’s No. 2 Republican is now clear after a potential challenger decided against challenging the Texas Republican for the plum spot. South Dakota Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) informed his colleagues Thursday he would stay as the Senate Republican Conference chairman, the No. 3 spot, averting a potentially messy leadership election after the GOP lost ground in Senate elections on Tuesday.

Cornyn? Wait, wasn’t he in charge of….

Cornyn oversaw the National Republican Senatorial Committee the past two election cycles, but that does not appear to be a roadblock to his ascension atop the conference even though the NRSC failed to win the majority despite a favorable map. While other challengers may yet emerge, Cornyn has so far avoided any opponents in the race.

Man, that’s some serious social promotion. This cycle Cornyn, with the most favorable landscape (Democrats holding 23 of the 33 seats up) in living memory and with more money behind him than Croesus, managed to lose two net Senate seats. Sure, Romney didn’t help by losing, but by my quick count, Republican Senate candidates ran behind Mitt in 23 states.

Since he’s not exactly known as a legislative dynamo, either, you have to figure Cornyn is either personally popular with his peers, or just reflects their views unusually well. But his upward mobility makes you wonder about the GOP’s supposedly overriding commitment to rewarding success. After all, when you look at the Senate Republican Caucus’ declining numbers, you have to say: “He built that!”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • NCSteve on November 08, 2012 5:26 PM:

    I just assumed it was similar to the way that the most incompetent teachers among tenured professors end up as deans. Just trying to get him somewhere where the damage he can do is minimized.

  • joel hanes on November 08, 2012 5:28 PM:

    Looks to me as if the national GOP figures it needs or wants something from Texas Republicans.

  • schtick on November 08, 2012 5:38 PM:

    Let's hope it's not another Texas president.

  • Just Guessing on November 08, 2012 5:44 PM:

    Just goes to show that the "Peter Principle" doesn't appear to apply for Senate Republicans. Or maybe it's just that with their high standards, Cornyn has yet to reach his peak level of incompetence.

  • SteveT on November 08, 2012 5:48 PM:

    "But his upward mobility makes you wonder about the GOPís supposedly overriding commitment to rewarding success."

    Come on . . .

    You know that Republicans don't believe that concepts like "personal responsibility" or "consequences" should apply to THEM.

  • Dredd on November 08, 2012 5:59 PM:

    Good. Cornyn will be doing some of the strategy for 2014 when McConnell is up for reelection. That means they won't see it coming again.

  • c u n d gulag on November 08, 2012 6:08 PM:

    Uhm, Ed, am I to assume that you never met even one of the Galtian "Job Creators?"

    I know sh*tloads of morons who moved up in Time Warner Cable, who couldn't tie their shoes without their significant other's half, and who move up - despite people with far higher IQ's, skills, and interpersonal abilities.

    This is the Senate version of a "Golden Parachute," nothing else. Cornyn couldn't run a feckin' candy stand at a roller-rink for children.

  • dweb on November 08, 2012 8:07 PM:

    But Cornyn's problem is an illustration of the problem facing his party. He doesn't control it...in fact nobody really controls it. Primaries are picking the winners and primaries picked Aikin and Mourdoch.

    The "traditional GOP" and I would (terrifyingly) have to say that Mr. Cornyn falls in that group, tried mightily to get Aikin to take a hike after his bombshell statements on women, rape and abortion, but Aikin and Mike Huckabee stuck fingers in both of his eyes and kept right on going.

    and when it came down to the finish line, there was the GOP throwing in last minute money to try and get a win for Aikin.

    so it ain't Cornyn's fault. It is the fault of a party already torn between competing versions of a failed ideology.....where the biggest differences are allowing abortion under no circumstances or only in the case of threat to the life of the mother.

  • Altoid on November 08, 2012 9:25 PM:

    But I bet he *was* successful-- at raising money and donating it to republican candidates. Maybe that's the result that matters. Or, maybe nobody else wants the job of smarming for McConnell.

  • R on November 08, 2012 9:38 PM:

    Great title for this post. Republicans wouldn't recognize an actual meritocracy if it was right in front of them.

  • exlibra on November 08, 2012 9:51 PM:

    Wasn't Cornyn the one responsible for the greatest number of secret holds and for starting the most filibusters? That, by itself, would have earned him not just a promotion, but a medal, with a title of Hero to go with it...

  • T2 on November 08, 2012 10:35 PM:

    Corny is a fat cat, old guard GOP pro. He never is primaried in Texas and toes the Party Line.
    In short, he represents exactly the kind of pol that is dragging the GOP into irrelevancy. He could be a Tea Party target, but knows how to pivot on a dime to a hardcore position when called for. John Cornyn is a poster boy for a fading GOP......Old White Man.

  • saquaquare1 on November 09, 2012 7:54 AM:

    This isn't exactly "promotion" since Cornyn currently holds the position. Also, is it too late for a challenger for Cornyn's spot?

    But the point is taken. The GOP appear to have bungled an opportunity. Having said that, one point should be made with respect to the quirks of the Senate. The greatest strength of Senate Republicans is their party unity to maintain filibusters. It is historically rare for Senators to be so disciplined. It is far more important for the GOP to maintain that discipline than it it is even to take back control of the Senate.

    Btw, I'm curious to see if Steve Benen will be as critical of Steve Israel's equally or greater poor performance on the House side.

  • saquaquare1 on November 09, 2012 7:56 AM:

    This isn't exactly "promotion" since Cornyn currently holds the position. Also, is it too late for a challenger for Cornyn's spot?

    But the point is taken. The GOP appear to have bungled an opportunity. Having said that, one point should be made with respect to the quirks of the Senate. The greatest strength of Senate Republicans is their party unity to maintain filibusters. It is historically rare for Senators to be so disciplined. It is far more important for the GOP to maintain that discipline than it it is even to take back control of the Senate. So picking more electable Republicans is not necessarily the prime goal.

    Btw, I'm curious to see if Steve Benen will be as critical of Steve Israel's equally or greater poor performance on the House side.

  • square1 on November 09, 2012 7:57 AM:

    This isn't exactly "promotion" since Cornyn currently holds the position. Also, is it too late for a challenger for Cornyn's spot?

    But the point is taken. The GOP appear to have bungled an opportunity. Having said that, one point should be made with respect to the quirks of the Senate. The greatest strength of Senate Republicans is their party unity to maintain filibusters. It is historically rare for Senators to be so disciplined. It is far more important for the GOP to maintain that discipline than it it is even to take back control of the Senate. So picking more electable Republicans is not necessarily the prime goal.

    Btw, I'm curious to see if Steve Benen will be as critical of Steve Israel's equally or greater poor performance on the House side.

  • boatboy_srq on November 09, 2012 8:44 AM:

    At least Cornyn is rising to the level of incompetency - unlike DeLay, who rose to the level of his malice (and fell thereby, also). While I'd rather do without either, I'll take the former over the latter any day: incompetence can at least be worked around.

  • Square1 on November 09, 2012 9:20 AM:

    Sorry for the multiple posts. A "capcha" explosion.