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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

McConnell Deal Making Reveals He Fears Grimes More Than Tea Party Challenger

I saw the always vapid Chuck Todd this morning complimenting Mitch McConnell's deal making with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the face of the ongoing GOP government shutdown slow-motion catastrophe and debt ceiling fiasco. Todd seemed to believe that McConnell is exhibiting a kind of courage Speaker of the House John Boehner lacks in working with Reid, presumably because this deal makes McConnell more vulnerable to his Tea Party primary challenger, while Boehner's paralysis represents his capitulation to his own Tea Party caucus. Todd also implied that this demonstrates a deep reservoir of adult professionalism in McConnell that has impelled him to put the country's interests before his own. This is absolute nonsense. In working with Reid the relentlessly opportunistic and utterly cynical McConnell has revealed his calculation that Tea Party overreach this month has changed the mid-term election dynamic enough that his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes is more a threat to his re-election chances than Tea Party challenger Matthew Bevin. Meanwhile, McConnell's unprecedentedly irresponsible and disastrous policy to make "Obama a one term president" through a policy of absolute obstruction of an elected President and Senate majority is a permanent and frankly devastating rebuke to any suggestion of professionalism or patriotism on the part of the Republican leader (and casts a shadow of deep suspicion about the standards of anyone who could forget this glaring evidence in publishing his judgment of McConnell). Not to put to fine a point on it, McConnell's present show of moderation in the face of what has always been the obvious defeat of an obviously ill-thought strategy represents not a risk but a glaring opportunistic pivot. As it happens, the fact that McConnell's calculation has changed this way over the last few days suggests that the rightward skew of the GOP inaugurated by the primary toppling of eminently electable Mike Castle by thoroughly unelectable Tea Party darling Christine "I'm Not A Witch" O'Donnell in 2010 has reached an inflection point. One would think a gossip columnist like Chuck Todd would be quite eager to be one of the first to pick the bones of this sort of breathless Beltway story for the political junkies who tune into his morning show. But the siren call of spinning McConnell's obtuse gyrations as the latest in the endlessly trumpeted never real always idiotic American Moderate Middle re-emerging to re-establish Washingtonian order was apparently as irresistible as ever to Todd as to his guests who nod.

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