The enduring conservative dislike for Mitch McConnell has long been a bit amusing to liberals. From their point of view, McConnell has arguably done as much anyone to sabotage the Obama agenda, hatching a grand obstructionist strategy that has often seemed almost cartoonishly diabolical. But conservatives have long lamented that at best, he’s an insufficiently zealous warrior who blinks when the going gets rough (on thedebt ceiling), and at worst, he’s an unprincipled inside-the-Beltway dealmaking sellout.
Case in point: Ken Cuccinelli, the national Tea Party hero who boasted of being the first Attorney General to sue to block Obamacare and ultimately lost a close gubernatorial race as conservative standard bearer against Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. In an interview with the Hill, Cuccinnelli argues in scalding terms that McConnell is fighting for his political life right now, because he lacks core conservative principles:
“Mitch McConnell’s going to go to the wire, because he is vehement about not standing for anything. And he has a good long track record about not standing for much other than keeping the campaign dollars flowing. And that is not inspiring to ordinary Americans, to conservatives, even to base Republicans.”
Ouch! Democrats certainly hope Cuccinnelli is right about that. They are hoping McConnell never quite patched things up with conservative voters after the bruising primary fight with Tea Partyer Matt Bevin, and that his support on the right remains a bit soft, so that just enough conservative voters stay home to make a difference in a very tight race.
There have already been questions about how enthusiastic McConnell’s support is, and the other day Glenn Beck declared that it wouldn’t be “all that bad for the country” if McConnell lost, given what he’d done to Bevin in the primary.
Meanwhile, Irin Carmon reports that McConnell yesterday held a “sleepy, underwhelming” rally with Bevin, at which Bevin declined to endorse McConnell or even say his name.
To be sure, McConnell still holds a solid lead in the polling average. And a new Bluegrass poll is due out tonight that may well show McConnell ahead and solidifying his support with Republicans (it will be interesting to see what it shows with regard to McConnell’s right flank).
But McConnell himself seems to be taking actions to shore up that right flank. The other day, he committed the apostasy of declaring that a GOP Senate majority might have trouble repealing Obamacare, because it would “take 60 votes,” which many took to mean he wouldn’t use the procedural route of “reconciliation” to target the law with a simple majority vote. Butin a statement to the Washington Examiner today, he quickly clarified that ofcoursea GOP majority would use the tactic, because his anti-Obamacare zeal is undiminished.
After all, McConnell can’t have the base thinking of him as a squish on Obamacare only five days before election day.
Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.