The Message for Democrats: Mitch McConnell
by Matt Stoller, Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 10:05:53 AM EST
It's time to do to Mitch McConnell what the GOP did to Tom Daschle - make him the symbol of everything that is wrong and get rid of him in a Presidential year. That's very possible, as McConnell is not popular in his home state though he is very powerful. Grassroots progressives hate him, and he is captive to the same far-right interests that the GOP allowed to sink them in 2006. McConnell is in fact a combination of the worst of all worlds - the arrogance of Bush, the social conservatism and lunacy of Rick Santorum, the hypocrisy of Mark Foley, the corruption of Tom Delay. He's the perfect representation of the GOP. If there's something wrong in modern politics on a Federal level, there's a good chance that it's because of McConnell directly, or through his octopus-like money machine indirectly. Everyone on the right takes cash from Mitch, and everyone in corporate America (as well as foreign governmetns) gives cash to Mitch. I mean his wife is Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Labor. This is a machine guy to his very boyish bones.
So when Reid can't get anything through the Senate, like, oh, the minimum wage or a vote on Iraq, the reason is Mitch McConnell. Any legislation that can't go through is because of Mitch McConnell. But that's not all - Ernie Fletcher, McConnell's boy - is one of the least popular governors in the country, and is immensely corrupt. He came through Mitch's machine, though McConnell is now working to disavow Fletcher. McConnell is not well-liked locally, even among Republicans, because he is understood to be a corporate plutocrat in an increasingly populist state.
McConnell's strategy is to put out Republican talking points on Iraq, health care, public financing, or anything else while obstructing progress in the Senate. The current talking point on the rewrite of the AUMF is that Democrats shouldn't try to 'micro-manage' the war because it's not Constitutional, so watch for that to emanate outward. He's also arguing that if Democrats were serious about ending the war they would cut off the funding, and that if Lieberman were to switch parties, the Republicans would then control the Senate.
Reid's strategy in response should be based on communication AND Senate dynamics. Right now, I'm not sure what Reid is after, but he failed to get a resolution through, which isn't just a loss but a test vote on every other vote he wants to win. And the Republican brand might have taken a small hit, but no individual Republican is responsible. What Reid needs to do, and what we ought to help with, is pin the Iraq mess, corruption in government, and support for George Bush against the public will on Mitch McConnell from this point forward, directly, and by name. The DNC and all party committees, and all liberal groups, should start calling opponents 'McConnell Republicans'. He should become an epithet. If they are blocking debate in the Senate, well that's what 'McConnell Republicans' do, now isn't it?
The national narrative will be that McConnell is supporting Bush in Iraq against the will of the public, and that he's doing it because he's prisoner to the same corrupt Tom Delay machine that lost in 2006. The local narrative will be about Ernie Fletcher and the McConnell money machine, and will tie very nicely into McConnell's behavior in DC. Mitch, like many Republicans before him, can't survive real scrutiny from being in the national limelight. So put him there, and force him to obstruct votes in the Senate while hitting him at home and in the national media.
Democrats have no message on Iraq right now because it's not clear who's obstructing an honest debate. Well now it is clear. It's Mitch McConnell. Reid should be subtly asking the American people consistently to help him force Bush to change course, and point to McConnell as the obstacle. If you're in Kentucky, what you should do is clear - volunteer and vote against McConnell in 2008. If you're not, press your member to give back McConnell's money, and push Republican candidates to disavow McConnell's person. We need a debate on Iraq and on the future of America.
If you want more war and corruption, Mitch McConnell is your man. If you want a change, then it's time to get rid of him and his ilk.