It wasn’t too long ago that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued that President Obama has been able to enact his entire policy agenda, so he’s not in a position to complain about the state of the economy.
McConnell argued that White House officials have been “trying to pretend like the president just showed up yesterday, just got sworn in and started fresh. In fact, he’s been in office three years. He got everything he wanted.”
Keep that argument in mind when you watch McConnell’s campaign video, shown during the Kentucky Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner a few days ago.
Now, the fact that McConnell, who isn’t up until 2014, is already putting together slick campaign videos – 30 months before his next election – suggests even the Republicans’ Senate leader has grown panicky about potential primary challengers.
But more important is the message of the video itself. As Joe Sonka explained this week, the clip effectively tells viewer that McConnell “singlehandedly blocked Obama from getting any of his agenda passed by Congress.” McConnell can say Obama got everything he wanted or he can say he stopped Obama from getting everything he wanted, but he can’t say both.
Credit where it is do: At least this video is much more honest. Mitch McConnell is quite adept at obstructing legislation – the most prolific abuser of the filibuster in American history – in order to politically harm a sitting president.
As you can see in the video, McConnell also loves it when people talk about how important and powerful he is. In 2008, McConnell’s campaign theme was the same, yet it consisted of telling voters how much pork and federal spending he was able to deliver to Kentucky through his real ultimate power. Since that’s now out of favor, his new theme is how he was able to block any progress that Obama wanted, so that he could be a one-term president. In other words, the campaign is less “Country First” or “Kentucky First,” and more “McConnell First.”
That is, unless you actually believe McConnell’s statements saying that Obama got everything he wanted, in which case Mitch McConnell is a giant failure. Mitch assumes that you’ll overlook the contradiction.
I was also struck by the fact that, in McConnell’s own clip, the viewer sees talk of the Minority Leader putting President Obama’s defeat above literally every other consideration, including the nation’s interests.
In October 2010, McConnell famously boasted, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president…. Our single biggest political goal is to give [the Republican] nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”
It was, almost immediately, seen as evidence of partisanship gone horribly awry, and Exhibit A of why policymaking in Washington has become all but impossible. And yet, in his new campaign video, McConnell felt compelled to include this – as if to say he’s proud of it.