Today, Tuesday, May 20th, Kentucky Republicans go to the polls to decide whether to nominate Senator Mitch McConnell for another term.
Why is this even a question?
The simple, essential fact is that the GOP would be no place — no place – today if it were not for McConnell’s leadership in the Senate.
Does that implausible? Consider this.
The only reason Republican criticisms of Obamacare have any legitimacy in Washington or the country is that every GOP member of Congress voted against it. Every single one. Both houses.
People listen to the party on Obamacare now, because not just today but when the key votes were cast, the party spoke with a clear, principled, unified, The party sang out in complete unison warnings of what was coming and what has now arrived, the most disastrous domestic program ever enacted by any congress in the nation’s brief 227-year history.
That unanimity is the GOP’s single biggest argument for why it deserves to retake the Senate. It isn’t typical late political arrival at the anti-Obamacare party. It was there full force from the start.
The party in Congress can say with utter truthfulness that not only were the Democrats were disastrously wrong, but we warned them. We fought them. And for the first time in the history of the nation and despite massive pressure to cave, a major program passed without a single vote of support in either house of Congress coming from the opposition party.
It takes nothing from Speaker Boehner to say that getting unanimous GOP opposition to the bill was not a heavy lift. The House operates in a very different way from the Senate. The Speaker has power. The Senate majority leader has only persuasion.
And we all know that the Senate GOP is particularly factious. It is not just that senators are generally hard animals to herd. The Founders set up the Senate to be a group of independently minded souls – and today’s GOP senators lift independent mindedness to a historically rare level.
Take yourself back to the early years of the Obama administration and put yourself in Senator McConnell’s place. Your goal is (as his was) to achieve unanimous GOP opposition to noxious bill the administration was selling as health reform. You know that if you can’t pull off that unity trick the party’s ability to reverse this engine of liberalism later on and repeal the bill will be nearly zero. In other words, you know you need to get Maine’s Olympia Snow and Susan Collins to link arms with the likes of Mississippi’s Saxby Chambliss and Kansas’ Sam Brownback. How do you do it?
Now if you actually know how to get that done, you are better than I. You are better than almost any one in the country. Almost anyone. Because, from what I can tell, only one man had the slightest idea how to get that one done. That was Mitch McConnell, and he did it.
So here’s the point I’m making. It is one thing to throw Bob Bennett out of the Senate, particularly when there is a candidate like the brilliant Mike Lee to replace him. It is a very different thing to throw out that man who kept the party in the Obamacare battle – the biggest battle not just for saving quality US health care, though it is certainly that, but for our Constitution and our basic rights, as well.
It was because of McConnell’s leadership that the GOP has a fighting chance of repealing and replacing Obamacare today.
Senator McConnell deserves to go into the November race – the most challenging he has faced in a long time — with the wind to his back and the party’s support of him confirmed in an overwhelming vote in today’s primary.