There is a debate going on within the Senate GOP, the body among which the worst of the Republican Party’s ongoing sins continue their commission. The debate is over the question of whether Republicans should simply stand at the front door, Halloween style, with a bag open waiting for the homeowners to dump candy in it — 0r whether they might earn their way to a dinner invitation.
The likely winner of the debate is Mitch McConnell, the octogenarian Senate minority leader whose career will likely be defined by the swag he and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, have raked in over the years based on various ventures they’ve been involved in. McConnell’s position on the coming likely Republican wave election is that the less said, the better, and perhaps he isn’t wrong. The American people absolutely despise the Democrats, and certainly for good reason: Tuesday’s State of the Union address was such a disaster that a good third of it was a series of meaningless examples of sloganeering by Joe Biden in an effort to co-opt Donald Trump’s agenda as his own.
Funding the police. Buying American. Controlling the border. The American people were likely to create an economic boomlet among chiropractors to deal with the attendant whiplash from such sharp policy diversions.
But Rick Scott, who unlike McConnell still seems to have full control of his alimentary capabilities and is vibrant enough to enjoy a full active lifestyle, which is to say that Scott was not alive to enjoy the musical stylings of Ted Weems or Tex Williams and the Western Caravan, has a different idea. Scott decided to offer an 11-point agenda that would give Americans actual reasons to vote Republican. It’s something of a successor to Newt Gingrich’s super-successful “Contract with America” that keyed an electoral revolution in 1994.
Scott’s 11 points are interesting. There is the temptation to see them as pandering to Republican voters, in that nobody who’s watched the GOP on Capitol Hill as led by the Mitch McConnells, John Boehners, and Paul Ryans of the world would ever believe they’d become reality. Among his offerings are congressional term limits, school choice and patriotic education, elimination of racial bean-counting in any federal government forums, border security, including finishing the wall and naming it for Donald Trump, and supply chain and UN reform, among other things.
It’s pretty clear Scott had his agenda poll-tested, and almost all of it is easy stuff in front of the American people. But there is nothing wrong with that. He’s going for obvious low-hanging fruit, which is the easiest way to build momentum behind a Republican majority. It so happens that Scott was a two-term governor of Florida who actually changed that state; he took over from Charlie Crist, who was such a terrible Republican that he’s no longer one, and played a large part in making the GOP not just the dominant party in that state but the conservative movement as the active ingredient among Florida Republicans.
Ron DeSantis is the finished product of that project.
And Mitch McConnell has given us, what? He’s the single least popular national political figure, and he purports to tell us what’s what?
Rachel Bovard, writing at The Federalist, nicely wraps up the Scott-McConnell donnybrook inside the Senate cloakroom…
For his efforts, Scott was not applauded, at least not in Washington. Rather, he was immediately savaged by his own leadership. McConnell and his allies reportedly excoriated Scott in a meeting behind closed doors, followed by a press conference where McConnell, when asked about Scott’s proposal, felt the need to remind everyone that “If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader.” Someone’s feeling touchy. (The conference-wide election for majority leader will occur in the days following November’s election.)
McConnell, who ripped the Republican National Committee for justifiably censuring Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because “we support all members of our party, regardless of their positions on some issues,” apparently doesn’t support Scott’s attempt to articulate where he stands—and where he thinks the party should stand. Instead of cultivating the creativity and leadership expressed in Scott’s effort, McConnell dismissed it as an affront to his own power.
He also took issue with one of the bullet points in Scott’s sweeping agenda, specifically the proposal that roughly 60 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax should be brought into tax parity. After feeling the need to remind everyone that he, not Scott, will be the incoming majority leader, McConnell stated, “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people….”
Fair enough. Scott unveiled a 60-page, detailed proposal, and not everyone is going to agree on the full substance. But to dismiss the full proposal because of a bullet point is an obvious attempt to kneecap the effort entirely, not provide constructive feedback.
Moreover, McConnell has, in the past, supported income tax parity, telling CBS News in 2012 that “Between 45 percent and 50 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. We have an extraordinarily progressive tax code already. It is a mess and needs to be revisited again.”
But McConnell’s flip-flop on the issue will hardly bother him, because his fixation on Scott’s agenda isn’t about the substance, it’s about the perceived affront to his own authority. McConnell notoriously rules the Senate—constructed as a body of equals—with an iron fist.
Although only when it suits him.
It’s disgusting. You don’t have to think of Rick Scott as the savior of the Republican Party to recognize that being willing to put something out there to define its efforts to win a Senate majority is better than “Chuck Schumer bad.”
Of course Chuck Schumer is bad. People also think Mitch McConnell is bad. But McConnell is so old, so decrepit, so out of touch with ordinary Americans after decades of profiteering off the vagaries of Beltway privilege, that he’s willing to have as his legacy the hatred of the American people so long as he can pull a couple more years as the leader of the Senate majority.
What’s that worth, though?
Between the two, it’s almost impossible not to back Scott. In fact, it ought to be seen as a definitive choice — not only is voting Republican in Senate races a repudiation of Schumer but also of McConnell, because the more new Republicans get elected, the better the chances a Rick Scott might replace McConnell when the Senate Republicans pick their leader.
This column has already weighed in about McConnell. He’s no longer an asset. But his efforts to squash the production of a positive legislative agenda of any kind prove the case. Particularly when it’s clear that getting back into the majority without a mandate is an open invitation to court the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the defense industry, Wall Street, and whoever else on K Street might pay best. (READ MORE: McConnell: Sluggish and Out of Touch)
Enough of that. Republican voters have tolerated it for too long and are done with it. Yes, the GOP is due for a big win. But the party is long overdue for being worthy of one. That McConnell is fighting an earnest attempt at deserving the victory to come should give you all the information you need about how much longer we should put up with him.
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