Mitch McConnell Could Work With Biden, If Only Biden Were Mitch McConnell
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) made very clear what his priorities are, telling reporters that he wasn't worried about House Republicans' attempt to defenestrate Liz Cheney from their leadership, because in the Senate at least, Republicans are unified in a shared mission:
"One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration," McConnell said, adding, "We're confronted with severe challenges from a new administration, and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that's 100 percent of my focus."
Gosh, if that sounds exactly like McConnell's pledge, on the day Barack Obama became president in 2009, that his sole goal was to make Obama a one-term president, that might be because it's how McConnell has always approached politics: No opponent can be allowed to have a win, or even a partial win, because the only earth McConnell likes is scorched. (I'll have to remember that line the next time the GOP blocks action on climate change.)
Yesterday, McConnell pretended to walk back the comment a little bit, possibly because he was constantly seeing his words thrown back at him by Democrats. But let's not pretend he believes anything different.
At another Kentucky event, dutifully transcribed without comment by local teevee, McConnell insisted that what he really meant was that he was only 100 percent opposed to parts of Biden's agenda, like only the socialist parts. Should Biden actually want to do anything non-socialist, maybe McConnell could get on board:
I'm anxious to stop the Biden agenda depending on what it is. At the risk of repeating myself If we want to talk infrastructure, we are very interested in talking about infrastructure that amounts to about $600 billion not $4.1 trillion. My hope is if the president is unable to convince the narrow Democratic majority in the House and the 50- 50 Senate to pass the 4.1 trillion bill we can sit down and have a serious conversation.
You see, Mitch McConnell is not a knee-jerk obstructionist! He would be happy to work with Joe Biden, If Biden would simply act like the moderate he ran as, and not a wild-eyed crazy person!
I want to do business with the president, but he needs to be a moderate. He said he was going to be a moderate during the campaign. I haven't seen that yet. I like him personally. He's just not done anything yet that could be characterized as moderate.
Well of course not. That's because anything Joe Biden does is socialism. If Joe Biden were to suddenly embrace the paltry, unserious infrastructure package put forward by GOP "moderates," that too would be socialism, because look at all the spending, and no way to pay for it! Just like how it was socialism when Barack Obama advocated a market-based healthcare program whose core ideas literally originated with the Heritage Foundation and were enacted in Massachusetts under then-Gov. Mitt Romney.
As MSNBC's Steve Benen notes, McConnell learned an important lesson by refusing to cooperate with Barack Obama, even when Obama was happy to accommodate Republican demands:
As the Kentuckian saw it, the public believes bipartisan bills are popular, so he rejected every element of the Democratic White House's agenda so voters would not see Obama succeeding. [...]
Republicans would make popular measures less popular by killing them. McConnell's plan was predicated on the idea that if he could just turn every debate into a partisan food fight, voters would be repulsed; Obama's outreach to Republicans would be perceived as a failure; progressive ideas would fail; and GOP candidates would be rewarded for their obstinance.
The thing is, nobody seems willing to believe him anymore, possibly not even other Republicans. McConnell announced at the outset that no Republican would support Biden's infrastructure proposal, so it's a bit late for him to insist that the problem here is that Joe Biden keeps refusing to fulfill his promise to work with Republicans.
Not that we expect McConnell to reach for any new lies. The familiar ones have worked well enough for him so far.
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