by Jeffrey Rendall
Mitch McConnell in 2020?
No, the senate majority leader isn’t clandestinely plotting a presidential primary challenge to Donald Trump in two years and as far as can be determined McConnell’s not tossing out hints he’s conspiring with #NeverTrumpers to overturn the Trump presidency through a coup either.
But what should be truly frightening to conservatives – and everyone else who cares about advancing the Trump “Make America Great Again” agenda – is the Kentuckian’s intention to not only run for reelection in 2020, McConnell’s also dead set on maintaining his current post as leader of the Republican caucus in the upper chamber.
Which brings to mind a legitimate question: if McConnell stays where he is, what will ever change? After all, he’s already been around for what seems like an eternity.
Burgess Everett of Politico reported last week, “On June 12, McConnell will surpass the 11-plus-year run of former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas to become the longest-serving Republican Senate leader ever. It’s a remarkable feat given the turmoil in the Republican Party since Trump’s takeover: The House GOP will soon be on its third party leader in little more than three years, while the lower rungs of Senate leadership are about to experience significant turnover. McConnell is on his third president as Republican leader.
“Yet the 76-year-old Kentuckian is showing no signs of fading away as he steers a 51-seat majority (minus, for now, John McCain) past Dole’s mark. McConnell is serious about running for reelection in 2020, and his colleagues and allies say he’s intent on running for GOP leader again next Congress, regardless of whether Republicans hold the Senate or not.
“And, as with the past six leadership elections, McConnell is expected to face no opposition [emphasis added] if and when he pursues years 13 and 14 as GOP leader.”
Once you get over the nauseated realization we’re stuck with McConnell indefinitely, consider the last sentence above. How is it that anyone in this age of “drain the swamp” can maintain such a lofty seat of power for so long, especially since McConnell has been wholly ineffective in advancing most of the items on the conservative wish list?
Why doesn’t someone rise up to confront McConnell and demand more?
There are a couple schools of thought on what makes an effective senate leader (there are certainly more, but two are relevant here). The first is a senate top dog should be a “consensus” builder who sits back, patiently listens to each member of his caucus and doesn’t rock the boat too much. This person isn’t all that ideological and favors “half a loaf,” deal-making and “getting things done” rather than policy victories over the opposition. In doing so bad bill after bad bill ends up becoming law.
This “dealmaker” scenario describes McConnell to a “t”. The puffy jowled establishmentarian talks a good game during his reelection campaigns every six years but once he’s safely back within the confines of the majority leader’s office McConnell returns to his old ways of scheduling sit downs with wishy-washy “moderates” like Maine’s Susan Collins or Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski (you could certainly add John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona) to determine what’s doable for the entire party.
Therefore, the “consensus builder” passively allows a few deviant senators to steer the ship. Theoretically speaking each senator enjoys equal power, which is true in the voting realm; but once politics enters the picture “moderates” like Collins and Murkowski run the show. They can get whatever they want from McConnell (and by extension everyone else) simply by threatening to withhold their support. It’s a singular form of political extortion the Founding Fathers never even contemplated.
The other school of thought involves a strong personality taking the party leader’s position and through principles and sheer force of will compels his caucus to stay in line or face consequences. This person holds his campaign promises in high esteem and remembers the people who put him or her in office whenever it comes time to twist a few arms to make sure the interests of the “team” are placed above the petty big government whims of particular individuals.
Democrat leaders of the recent past are much closer to this ideal than McConnell ever was. How many times, for example, has Chuck Schumer held his entire caucus together to defeat an important Republican proposal? Last summer’s battle over Obamacare repeal (which could have been won with 50 votes) comes immediately to mind – but there are more instances. No one knows exactly what Schumer does to keep his people so rigidly onboard the socialist #resistance barge, but whatever it is, it works.
Sadly, Democrat leaders are much better at cracking the proverbial whip and sticking together. As Ben Franklin once famously quipped, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Stupidly, Republicans don’t seem to mind hanging separately and McConnell apparently allows each of them to feebly dangle accordingly. Since collectively they’re so ineffective what basis do GOP senators then have to go home and ask the voters for another six years in Washington where nothing will ever change (because the leadership won’t threaten to make life difficult for a couple party members who are holding everything up)?
And how do the Democrats maintain such discipline when ten of them are running in states that Trump carried during his 2016 victory?
Conservatives accept that we can’t get everything we want but it would sure be nice to get some of what we ask for, especially when there are tools at the leader’s disposal to pressure the opposition into cooperating. Reconciliation could be used to trim budgetary items; the “nuclear option” would remove the minority party’s power to stonewall via the filibuster and the August recess should be cancelled in order to provide time to pass more agenda items and confirm administration and judicial nominees.
Will McConnell ever push the necessary buttons to make it so? Not likely. And his constant interference in GOP state primaries assures there will be more lock-step rubber-stamping establishment elites who won’t challenge him in the future either.
Political observers are fond of saying President Trump could be a drag on party candidates, but what about McConnell? Will people turn out to vote for a Republican would-be senator knowing more of the same is waiting from leaders on Capitol Hill?
Liberal Juan Williams is one of those who thinks this year’s elections will be all about Trump. Williams wrote last week in The Hill, “As November gets closer, the Democrats’ base is primed to extend their current enthusiasm advantage over GOP voters. In special elections, the Senate race in Alabama and several gubernatorial races, the Democrats have turned out and produced wins.
“And don’t forget, even Trump’s base voters are disappointed by his failure to build the border wall, repeal ObamaCare, drain the swamp and bring back the jobs lost to international trade. Republicans are also disappointed that Trump’s tax cuts for the rich have increased the deficit.
“Republican strategists don’t want to talk about those problems; they prefer to rally the base with talk about impeachment.”
As I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions the past couple months, Williams is delusional. Conservatives and Republicans are indeed worried about an enthusiasm gap this November but it has a lot more to do with what Congress isn’t doing rather than trying to scare people into turning out because of fears crazy Nancy Pelosi and her merry band of Democrat nutcases would actually succeed on their impeachment mission.
If anything it’s the Democrats whipping their minions into a tizzy by dangling the prospect of cashiering Trump before the nation that’s being used as an electoral prop. The media’s Trump obsession is well-established and liberal cable news talk show hosts realize if they aren’t criticizing the president 24/7 then no one’s paying any mind to them. Studies revealed that well over 90 percent of establishment news coverage of Trump is negative – yet his approval ratings are still slowly improving.
Further, the Mueller investigation is going nowhere yet Democrats remain latched onto it in hopes of perpetuating the myth of Trump malfeasance and corruption until Election Day.
The media would rather dither over the difference between a “spy” and an “informant.” It’s okay for liberals to plant infiltrators in opponents’ campaigns when they’re in power but not kosher for Republicans to do the same when Democrats are in the minority. Liberals cast civil liberties into the trash bin whenever they feel like it and their hypocrisy hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Victor Davis Hanson wrote last week at National Review, “The Democratic party, the investigative media, and liberalism itself are now weirdly on the side of the reactionary administrative state. They have either downplayed or excused Watergate-like abuses of power by the former Barack Obama administration.
“Liberal journalists apparently have few concerns that the FBI apparently used at least one secret informant to gather information about the 2016 Trump campaign. Nor are they much bothered that members of the Obama national-security team unmasked the names of U.S. citizens who had been improperly surveilled. Many of those names then were illegally leaked to the press.
“Democrats seem indifferent to the fact that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid a foreign agent, Christopher Steele, to compile dirt on Republican candidate Donald Trump — largely by trafficking in unverified rumors from Russian interests. Obama administration officials leaked details from that dossier…”
Isn’t it ironic that the only proven “collusion” with Russia to influence the 2016 election was done by Democrats in Hillary’s campaign and the higher-ups in Obama’s Justice Department and intelligence agencies? By now it’s common knowledge that the unverified and salacious Steele dossier was compiled through dubious contacts with Russians. Where’s the outrage?
The deep state might as well be personified by the Democrat donkey. Democrats do as they please and the media ignores whatever fails to paint Trump in the worst possible light. No wonder polls now show a majority of Americans believing the Mueller probe is politically motivated. If you’re giving credence to the facts, what other conclusion is there?
Hanson argues that Watergate-style investigative journalism is dead. Most would say it ceased breathing long ago. Real reporting has been replaced by self-interested partisans seeking to make a point rather than passing along facts free from comment. Trump himself refuses to let the media get away with their “fake news”; if he hadn’t been elected, would we ever know about all the sleaze going on in government?
Trump’s doing his job and achieving successes despite the intense resistance from the swamp. He’s enjoying a huge year regardless of what the news industry thinks. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wrote in The Hill, “President Donald J. Trump has had a great 2018 but you would not know it if you listened to cable talking heads obsess about Roseanne Barr’s latest tweet or the latest ‘breaking news’ coming from a White House press briefing.
“The media seems obsessed with gossip and conjecture about what is going on at the White House staff level while they ignore the growing number of landmark achievements of the Trump administration. This has been a great year so far and Americans can expect much more in the months to come…”
In his piece Lewandowski ticks off the various Trump achievements and helpfully separates them by month. It’s a nice timeline and a good refresher on matters that are already beyond the short attention spans of the mainstream media.
The media will continue to make this year’s midterms all about the president, largely because Trump draws attention and stirs action. The lack of real reporting allows feckless leaders like Mitch McConnell to fly undetected under the public radar; by the time folks wake up it might be too late.