Before the health care fight, before the economic stimulus package, before President Obama even took office, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, had a strategy for his party: use his extensive knowledge of Senate procedure to slow things down, take advantage of the difficulties Democrats would have in governing and deny Democrats any Republican support on big legislation.Republicans embraced it. Democrats denounced it as rank obstructionism. Either way, it has led the two parties, as much as any other factor, to where they are right now. Republicans are monolithically against the health care legislation, leaving the president and his party executing parliamentary back flips to get it passed, conservatives revived, liberals wondering what happened.In the process, Mr. McConnell, 68, a Kentuckian more at home plotting tactics in the cloakroom than writing legislation in a committee room or exhorting crowds on the campaign trail, has come to embody a kind of oppositional politics that critics say has left voters cynical about Washington, the Senate all but dysfunctional and the Republican Party without a positive agenda or message.But in the short run at least, his approach has worked.
Worked for whom? Certainly not the American people or the political process. It's worked for McConnell's political agenda, nothing else.
So, for all the demands of bipartisanship from the GOP, it was never going to happen. That's not a surprise to most of us. The NY Times finally figured it out. It is amazing to watch tv reporters and read print accounts of what's going on up on Capitol Hill. Many of them do act as if the Republicans have a reasoned, rational basis for what they're doing. The traditional media types and pundits are always talking about bipartisanship as if it's some kind of holy grail, but ignore the fact that the GOPers have no interest in compromise.
These are dangerous and trying times. You'd like to think that our elected officials would rise to the occasion, especially those on the GOP side who led us to the brink. Instead, we get Mitch McConnell's strategy of obstructionism at any cost. For Republicans, this is "team ball."
This article should be must reading for people in Maine who think their Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, are moderates. They're not. They on Mitch's team.