Mitch McConnell was dealt an unwinnable hand on health care reform. I’m not going to argue that.
When Al Franken and ACORN stole Norm Coleman’s Senate seat in Minnesota last year, and milquetoast Republicans made only halfhearted attempts to stop it, the die was cast for McConnell. He was sitting at only 40 votes, meaning if the Democrats could unify their 60 votes there was, ultimately, nothing McConnell could do to stop them from passing legislation. He could slow it down, and to his credit he’s managed to do so. But he was never going to win this one.
There are many in the conservative movement who think that because the American people hate this health care bill McConnell could have won if he’d just delayed the thing long enough. I differ with them on that because there are no moderate Democrats in the Senate – there are hard-core Marxists and there are whores, and McConnell didn’t have anything to offer to the whores.
When you’re lacking in resources, you’re going to lose unless you’ve got more brains or more will than the other guy. Certainly, I think McConnell probably does have more brains than Harry Reid. Hell, my dog has more brains than Harry Reid.
What he doesn’t have is the will. Reid is willing to do ANYTHING to get where he wants to go. McConnell is a guy who won’t go there. Doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. Doesn’t want to be seen in the same manner Republicans see Reid, or Tom Daschle before him – two absolutely deplorable bastards whose only redeeming characteristics were that they’d chew through wood to win a fight.
And as a result, McConnell and his people at the top of the Senate GOP leadership came up with a “messaging” strategy in fighting the health care bill. They rhetorically hammered away at the flaws in the bill, they raised points of concern, they ginned up as much public outcry as they could and they took their case to the American people. They figured the way to go was to be Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird, rather than The Joker.
What they didn’t do was street fighting. They didn’t raise points of order until the very end of this fight. They didn’t refuse unanimous consent and grind Senate business to a halt. They operated largely in a business-as-usual manner while pledging undying commitment to fighting with everything they had. Meanwhile, Reid went about bribing and cajoling everyone he could in typical Las Vegas greaseball fashion. And ultimately, nice guys finish last.
That “messaging” strategy was fine for a while. But when it became clear it wasn’t going to work, it was time to fight to the death.
I posted before that this was always going to be the Alamo. McConnell probably saw that, too. And I don’t blame him for ending up at the Alamo.
The problem is, when you get to the Alamo, you go down fighting. You don’t surrender the Alamo. Leonides didn’t surrender at Thermopylae, and MacAuliffe didn’t surrender at Bastogne.
McConnell surrendered at Christmas. Because he wanted to go home. There was an ice storm coming, they’d get stranded in DC, he and his people knew they’d lost, they were out of bullets and so it made sense to throw in the towel.
As a practical matter, maybe he did the right thing.
This was the Alamo. It was always going to be the Alamo. And at the Alamo you get beat.
Here’s my problem, though. If it’s going to be the Alamo, ACT LIKE IT. Don’t capitulate, don’t surrender, don’t give an inch. Go down fighting, and in doing so make it as painful on the other side as humanly possible.
The thing McConnell and the GOP leadership inside the Beltway has got to understand is that there’s a tidal wave building out there. You have probably 60 percent of the American people who are at least intrigued – if not completely on board – with the idea of rolling the clock back 100 years and wiping out everything the Democrats have done since Woodrow Wilson. That’s the essence of the Tea Party movement, and with those people rests the opportunity to build the kind of majority for the Republican Party the Democrats have right now – the difference being that a GOP with FIDELITY to the principles of constitutional conservatism could HOLD that kind of majority long enough to make fundamental change in the country.
But you can’t galvanize the support of the Tea Party Movement by capitulating because an ice storm is coming. You need to make a gesture that shows FIGHT, that shows PASSION, and that shows COMMITMENT. Cutting a deal with Harry Reid shows none of those. Mary Landrieu got $100 million, Ben Nelson got $400 million and Mitch McConnell got the afternoon off, is what it looks like. He comes off as a sucker, because he didn’t get squat from his rollover to Reid.
Nobody expected McConnell to actually win this fight. But if you’re going to lose, then for God’s sake lose at the Alamo and not the Maginot Line.
McConnell needed to bleed every last drop out of the Democrats on this deal. He bled a good bit, but there was more he could have drawn from them. And to cut a deal at the end like he did throws away everything the GOP did do to delay this thing – all anyone will remember is that he capitulated. That’s not how you inspire the tea party crowd to join your side.
Supposedly, McConnell extracted “concessions” from Reid in return for moving the final vote up to Thursday morning rather than make it last as long as possible and put the Democrats – and his own people – through the hell of a Christmas on the Senate floor.
What did he get? A couple of lumps of coal in his stocking.
McConnell got a vote next month on giving TARP money back to the Treasury rather than have that money end up in the hands of the Obama administration for his cockamamie Porkulus Part 2 “jobs” program. He also got a vote on stopping the EPA from regulating carbon emissions.
McConnell’s lieutenant John Cornyn, the Texas Senator who as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been busy committing resources to more milquetoast candidates like Charlie Crist in Florida, Carly Fiorina in California and Mark Kirk in Illinois as opposed to letting Republican primaries play out according to what the political market dictates (which is an awfully curious stance for the party which supposedly believes in market principles to take), put the leadership’s position in as accurate a light as can be.
“There were extensive conversations about how do we keep the time we need to expose the deficiencies of this bill and, of course, the sweetheart deals that produced it, but yet show respect to people and their families, let them get home at least in time for Christmas Eve,” he said.
This, just a day after McConnell was all over the talk radio shows swearing they’d fight to the end.
What’s worse, these two votes McConnell supposedly wrested out of Reid’s grip as payment for giving up the fight on the health care bill are of zero value whatsoever.
Getting a vote on giving the TARP money back? It’s completely retarded to even have a vote on that. The law is clear about whether that money goes back to the Treasury – not that any part of the original TARP bill has been followed in the first place. Now, when it’s an 85-15 vote in favor of the GOP position it looks like Reid and the Democrats are giving the country good government. Why McConnell should give them the opportunity to go home and say “Hey, I voted for fiscal sanity” and then treat that as a benefit to Republicans is beyond me.
And a vote on stopping the EPA from regulating carbon emissions? Seriously? The Democrats realize that the American people will be lynching them from lightpoles on the Washington Mall if the EPA goes through with that. They can’t wait to unload that turkey. Not to mention it’s patently unconstitutional for the EPA to regulate CO2 without an evidentiary showing of harm in a court of law. If I’m McConnell I’m going to fight Reid on even having that vote, much less consider it a concession from the Democrats. They made that mess; I’m going to let them bleed on it.
The quality of the tactical thinking this shows, if true, tells me how bad the situation is atop the Senate GOP. We need a Nick Saban as the head coach of this team and we’ve got Gerry DiNardo or Mike Archer instead.
The majority of the country is there for the taking, but right now the GOP isn’t up to taking them. That’s a real shame, because right now it looks very likely that a third party movement will emerge – and that’s exactly what the Democrats are praying for; it’s the only thing which can save them from getting massacred at the polls in 2010 and 2012.
It’s time for McConnell and the rest of the current establishment at the top of the Beltway Republican totem pole to step aside and let a new class of leaders pick up the standard. The Senate GOP needs a Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn or John Kyl – who is willing to fight the hard left to the death – to take over the leadership.
We are beyond “nice guy politics.” The future of the country is at stake, the other side will stop at nothing to win and the American people are more furious at Washington now than they’ve ever been. If the Republicans won’t slit throats and take ears and noses as trophies, the electorate will kill itself trying to find someone who will.
It’s clear McConnell just isn’t that guy. Like Cornyn, he’s a good senator. But as our general, he’s too much McClellan and not enough Sherman. The other side has Shermans; we’d better find one soon.