• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Mitch McConnell: Defeating Obama In 2012 Crucial To GOP Agenda

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is doubling down on comments he made before Tuesday’s election that defeating the President in 2012 is essential to achieving the GOP’s goals:

An emboldened Sen. Mitch McConnell on Thursday will declare that President Barack Obama must be defeated in 2012 because Republicans “can’t plan” on the White House to listen to voters and cooperate on some of his party’s top political priorities.

“Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office,” the Senate Republican leader will tell the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to excerpts of his speech provided to POLITICO.

“But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things,” the Kentucky Republican will say. “We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday’s election. But we can’t plan on it.”

While Democratic leaders said Republicans should be prepared to compromise to pass legislation, McConnell will make clear that he wants the administration to “move in our direction” if it wants his party’s cooperation.

McConnell’s sharpened attack would be a departure from the more collegial tone that some Republican leaders struck in the immediate aftermath of Election Day, when voters returned Republicans back to the House majority and elected six more Senate Republicans, narrowing the Democratic majority in the upper chamber to 53-47.

But McConnell’s comments suggest that Obama will face a far more confrontational Senate, particularly if he doesn’t dramatically overhaul his agenda. And the Republican leader suggested that he’s prepared to tie up the Senate floor and unite his party against some Democratic bills, which could lead to legislative gridlock and have profound repercussions across the 2012 campaign trail.

In particular, McConnell will say the Senate should be prepared to vote on a straight repeal of the new health care law “repeatedly.”

“But we can’t expect the president to sign it,” the excerpts quote him as saying. “So we’ll also have to work, in the House, on denying funds for implementation and, in the Senate, on votes against its most egregious provisions.”

While McConnell won’t have control of the Senate, there are plenty of parliamentary rules that he will be able to use to block Democratic efforts to water down legislation sent over from the House, and he’ll have a much larger caucus to work with (and possibly the support of Democrats like Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin depending on the issue at hand), so it’s a fact of life that any legislation coming out of the Senate is going to have to have significant Republican support.

As Jay Bookman notes at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though, it is rather extraordinary to hear such a statement from a prominent politician:

McConnell isn’t some talk-radio host trying to work his audience into a lather. He’s not a behind-the-scenes political operative or consultant plotting the next election. He’s the Senate minority leader, with an obligation to govern that ought to transcend partisan goals.

For that reason, it means something when a person in his position embraces partisan gain over all else, however he may try to justify it to himself and others. In fact, it’s hard to hear his statement as anything but a declaration of all-out partisan war, damn the consequences.

For example, given the choice of supporting something that was good for the country, but would also benefit Barack Obama politically, what would McConnell do? If you take him at his word — and I guess we have to, since he has chosen to repeat it for emphasis — you at least have to wonder.

I just can’t imagine such a bald assertion of partisan gain over policy at any other time from such a prominent source. Tom Daschle in 2002, saying “the single most important thing we want to achieve is beating George Bush?” Unthinkable, because then as now, the country had bigger things on its plate. Even Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich, at the height of political acrimony with Bill Clinton, didn’t publicly commit themselves to Clinton’s political destruction as their primary goal.

It’s also surprising because McConnell has never been known as a partisan bomb thrower in the style of, say, a Newt Gingrich. However, I think it’s largely a reflection of the hyper-partisan political culture that we live in today.  Historically, the Senate was the body where compromise takes place, but that has become far less common over the last decade, and it’s becoming common to hear Senators talking like House members in a more confrontational, partisan style. Additionally, McConnell is a smart enough politician to know that he needs to keep the base happy, and the Republican base loves rhetoric like this right now. Does this mean that compromise in the Senate is dead? No, it means that when that compromise happens, Mitch McConnell is making clear that it will happen on Republican terms.

Whether that’s what the voters want is another question.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Asking if that is what the voters want is kind of silly. There is no average voter or monolithic desire for anything from “the voters.” Reading these threads is plenty enough evidence of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. sam says:

    As I said elsewhere, Bill Clinton was lucky in his enemies, and it looks like Barack Obama is too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. ponce says:

    I’ll bet a reelected Harry Reid is fired up and ready kick droopy dog’s butt all around the Senate chamber.

    First up, making McConnell grab his ankles if he wants the tax cuts for millionaires extended.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. mantis says:

    Unthinkable, because then as now, the country had bigger things on its plate.

    Not really. It’s only unthinkable for Democrats. IOKIYAR

    Does this mean that compromise in the Senate is dead? No, it means that when that compromise happens, Mitch McConnell is making clear that it will happen on Republican terms.

    You keep using that word: compromise. I do not think it means what you think it means. Compromise on one party’s terms is not compromise. It’s obeisance. Not that I think the Democrats are above obeisance, mind you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***As I said elsewhere, Bill Clinton was lucky in his enemies, and it looks like Barack Obama is too.***ya he is, real lucky hahahahahahha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.therightscoop.com/glenn-beck-happy-days-are-here-again?ref=nf

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Franklin says:

    There is no average voter or monolithic desire for anything from “the voters.”

    Agreed. It’s mostly projection, I think, when politicians say this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Herb says:

    Dear Mitch,

    There is no better way to ensure failure than to set up unattainable goals. And I’m not talking about getting rid of Obama. I’m talking about the “repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government.”

    A) “repeal and replace” could have easily been “negotiate” last year, but noooooo…..they had to win the 2010 mid-term .

    b) End the bailouts? Dude, Mitch McConnell voted for TARP. End the bailouts? How about we don’t start the bailouts first?

    C) “Cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government” Yeah, yeah, this is always a priority when Democrats are in control. It would have been nice if the Republican party spent 2000-2008 doing that, but they kinda did…the exact opposite. And I’m going to trust them now? To do it for reals?

    If only we give them the White House? Sorry, not that gullible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. sam says:

    GA, among folks with a greater than room temp IQ, the fact that Glenn Beck is opposing Obama is a point, a really, really big point, in the president’s favor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. sam says:

    You know, this might just be one more element in the Tea Party-Establishment GOP Deathmatch that is going to provide us all with hours of mirth and fun. I mean, Mitch wants to devote all his energies to screwing the president. The Tea Party folks, as I understand them, are primarily interested deficit reduction and so forth. If they come to believe that Mitch’s effort to get Obama are taking energy away solving what they see as the most important problem we have, Hmmmm.

    And you know, what if, just what if, the president and the Tea Party find themselves on the same page deficit-wise? Wild speculation, I know, but not impossible, and politics is the art of the possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Nightrider says:

    Defeating Obama isn’t “crucial” to their agenda. Winning elections *is* their agenda. See 2001-2005.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***GA, among folks with a greater than room temp IQ, the fact that Glenn Beck is opposing Obama is a point, a really, really big point, in the president’s favor.***lol……………….but did you enjoy the clip?:)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sam, hold that first thought. You are not among those with a lofty IQ judging by your posts here. You want to vote for a man who advocates a system yet proven to work. You progressives are so anxious to give up your freedoms, why don’t you move to Vietnam or North Korea? See the wonders of the socialist system Obama wants for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. [...] Mitch McConnell: Defeating Obama In 2012 Crucial To GOP Agenda (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. ponce says:

    “See the wonders of the socialist system Obama wants for you.”

    I don’t think mindless piffle like that will work anymore, Rage.

    The Republicans in the House are now Obama’s partners in the future of America.

    BTW, Dino Rossi just conceded to Patty Murray.

    Thank you Karl Rove, his obnoxious commercials did the trick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. anjin-san says:

    While we are giving thanks, I want to thank Sarah Palin for all the work she did that kept Senate in Democratic hands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. A member of the Republican leadership stating that he hopes his party wins the presidency in 2012 is “hyper-partisan”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. sam says:

    I see Zels is here. Who left the door open?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Rock says:

    The GOP don’t have to do much defeat Obama in 2012. All they have to do is step back and let Obama keep reading from his teleprompter. Obama will screw the pooch for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. c.red says:

    Sam – Well since his administration did reduce the deficit by some $120 billion the first year they created and applied the budget and since they also cut taxes, I think it is safe to say the Tea Party isn’t going to back the Obama administration no matter what.

    I’ll leave it as an individual exercise as to the why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. An Interested Party says:

    “The GOP don’t have to do much defeat Obama in 2012. All they have to do is step back and let Obama keep reading from his teleprompter. Obama will screw the pooch for them.”

    Yes, of course, because that’s how he got elected in the first place…you gotta have hope, I guess…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. [...] Mitch McConnell: Defeating Obama In 2012 Crucial To GOP Agenda (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0