Is McConnell a Loser? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Is McConnell a Loser?

Erick Erickson beat me to the punch on Mitch McConnell’s record. When has this guy as leader actually won something rather than going down to a supposedly noble defeat? Here’s what is pathetic: With more than 60 percent of the public opposing the health care bill, and a huge proportion of that number STRONGLY opposing it, the EASY part should have been holding all 40 Republican senators, and it should have been eminently doable to pick off just one of 60 Democrats (or Dem-caucusing independents). But how many times did Mitch McConnell actually meet with Ben Nelson? With Blanche Lincoln? With Jim Webb? With Bill Nelson? WIth Jon Tester or Mark Begich? How many times did he work with them to find out what they would need in order to help kill the bill? You know, conservatives in general are pretty silly about complaining about Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson being “bought off.” That’s how the game has been played since time immemorial, and Ronald Reagan played it with the best of them. (Remember John Breaux’s quip that he wasn’t for sale, but he was for rent? Well, it was Reagan who rented him, quite happily.) So why wasn’t McConnell out there making deals with Nelson or Lincoln? Or, if not “deals,” why not at least woo them, converse with them, stroke their egos? Why wasn’t he willing to let Tom Ciburn force a reading of the whole bill before the Senate moved to open debate on it? Why wasn’t he focused on the incredibly unpopular individual mandate in the bill, which really could be a silver bullet to defeat it by putting the Dems on the spot? Why not use every procedural trick in the book to slow this thing down until after Christmas, in order to make wavering senators again have to face the wrath of their constituents?

How can he NOT be able to pick off even one Democrat, facing the polls against the bill that the Dems face?

We’ve seen this before. McConnell talked a good game on confirming Bush’s judges, until he actually had to deliver. Then he caved. (Actually, he caved on judges several times.) And he and his team did not focus on the right issues needed to make a vote for Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court a much harder vote for the Dems.

Somehow, under the current leadership, the GOP has fallen from 55 senators to 40. And they keep losing on vote after vote after vote. If McConnell and his team are such geniuses at legislative maneuvering, we would know it by their string of victories. Oops. What victories? When, pray tell, did they ever win a tough fight against the odds? Hell, when did they even win a tough fight when the odds were 50-50?

Two cloture votes remain in the Senate before the Reid bill gets passed. Yet today’s Roll Call reports that “GOP Considering Throwing in Towel.” (Sorry, the link works for subscribers only.) Why throw in the towel? Because McConnell and company appear to think they will lose anyway, so they may as well go home for Christmas.

That’s just stupid. They should keep the pressure on. They should continue to say that there is no reason to rush it through before Christmas, that if there is a vote on Christmas Eve it is the Dems’ fault, that the public deserves time to read and discuss the final version of this thing. They should force the Dems to pull every procedural trick in the book in order to force a vote — and, if the GOP can, be alert to find some way, any way, to trip the Dems up procedurally, which actually can happen because exhausted senators have been known to make mistakes. And then, if the vote does come, call it the “Christmas Eve Massacre,” and run commercials against it while it is being negotiated in Conference with the House. You can’t run commercials calling it the Christmas Eve Massacre if you give up and let the Dems pass it before Christmas Eve.

The long and short of it is, this isn’t an ordinary bill. This bill is the spearpoint, the poisoned spearpoint, that could kill the republic. This is the single most important domestic political fight of our lives, in terms of individual pieces of legislation. The goal of Republican senators, IF they truly are against this bill, should not be “positioning” for elections in 2010 (yeah — as if any of McConnell’s past positioning has worked — NOT!); the goal should be to beat this bill by all means available, and to fight it until there isn’t breath left in the opponents’ bodies to fight with.

I forgot who wrote it, but there is an old poem talking about those who would storm the fortress of folly, against all odds. Its key lines are these: “When the forts of folly fall, may they find my body by the wall.”  Somehow, I don’t see that attitude from McConnell and his henchmen. They seem, from this vantage point, to care more for theiir precious political bodies than for the cause of freedom. I wait with bated breath for the day when they show willingness to let their bodies fall while attempting to scale the walls. The truth is, sometimes by being willing to fall, you actually survive, and climb, and win. That’s what the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” did on D-Day. McConnell could learn from them: You don’t win a war for freedom unless you are willing to risk yourself in the effort.

All these guys do is lose. For shame.

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