Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced Trump's recent remarks about restricting Muslim travel during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 8, 2015.
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

McConnell laments ‘hostage-taking’ as irony weeps in the corner

Pioneers in a given field probably shouldn’t criticize their own area of expertise. We don’t see Elon Musk denigrating electric cars. Jeff Bezos doesn’t disparage online retailing. The Wright Brothers didn’t condemn airplanes. Beyonce isn’t a critic of visual albums.

And with this in mind, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) clearly shouldn’t malign Senate brinkmanship and hostage taking, since he’s utilized these tactics in ways no Senate leader ever has before. And yet, there he was yesterday, responding to the recently completed shutdown:

“This regrettable shutdown reminded all of us that, in United States Senate, brinksmanship and hostage-taking simply do not work.”

Really, they don’t? Has Mitch McConnell let Mitch McConnell know about this?

In 2011, in a quote that was largely overlooked at the time, then-Senate Minority Leader McConnell reflected on the debt-ceiling crisis he’d just helped engineer. The Kentucky Republican conceded that the GOP-imposed crisis did real harm, but he described those adverse consequences in a positive light.

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” McConnell said in August 2011. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this – it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.”

His point, obviously, was that Republicans were pleased by their debt-ceiling hostage crisis, and McConnell was signaling his willingness to do the same thing again.

Indeed, at the time, many critics of the GOP scheme were characterizing the tactic as a “hostage” crisis – a label most Republicans weren’t comfortable with. McConnell, however, was candid and proud, embracing hostage-taking as a tactic with inherent merit.

For the senator to suddenly pretend he sees no value in brinkmanship and hostage taking is to treat the public as fools.