Mitch McConnell and the triumph of scorched-earth opportunism
Last year, at the start of the presidential nominating process, I was surprised at the lack of any real unifying or visionary leaders among the Republican contenders. None of the candidates had much following within the party, and several were actively despised. The strongest candidate was seen as a joke and a conman, even though he eventually won.
Mitch McConnell takes much of the blame for that.
I thought that then, and still think that now. Great leadership cannot rise from pure obstruction and blockage, and it was McConnell’s top priority to keep President Obama from succeeding and to end his presidency in four years. His stated goal was to punish the President and the nation for their choices in 2008, and decidedly not to find any common ground that might have benefited the country. His intent was to campaign, not to govern. Yet work in the trenches of compromise and cajoling, true politicking, builds the skills and the followers that leaders in a democracy need, not temper tantrums and obstinance.
Who looks happiest in this photo? (credit: Molly Riley, AP)
In 2015, an assumption could be made that McConnell had miscalculated, that the lack of unifying and visionary leaders would not pay off. After all, President Obama was re-elected in 2012. In 2016 however, with Donald Trump’s election, that assumption looks very wrong. The other mistaken assumption, implicit in the first, is that McConnell and other Republicans were ever seeking any sort of conventional leader, and we should have known better than to ever assume this.
The Republican Platform of today—as well as that of 2012—makes its strongman arguments, its anti-inclusionary policies, its religious tests, and its corporatism clear. Even Trump’s so-called “wall,” far from being a new idea, was described in the 2012 Platform. These Platforms suggests that a figure like Donald Trump has been the Republican goal for years. A figurehead is acceptable when the necessary, but an authoritarian is preferred.
While establishmentarians like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have potentially been left in the cold with this election, Trump’s demeanor and his proposals, whether they are literal or not, are of a piece with McConnell’s strategy throughout the Obama Administration. In both cases, compromise and respect are seen as weakness, beginning with the heckling of the President in his State of the Union, continuing with the unprecedented refusal to consider any Democratic Supreme Court nominees, and following with Trump’s extremist cabinet picks. “Rule or ruin” is fully established as the only Republican way, and with Trump’s philosophy of meeting any perceived slight with humiliation “ten times as hard,” it is intensified.
McConnell, far from being a lost relic in the “Party Of No,” is the natural Donald Trump counterpart of the Senate. He has found the candidate he wanted, and the type of leader to which his politics descends. McConnell’s refusal to play ball whenever he might not win, and his strategy of disrespect, while terrible for the nation, has worked out very well for him, for Trump, and the GOP’s strategy of scorched-earth opportunism.
Do you think that John mccain would have been a good president
I worried about his judgment after Senator McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate – although I recognized the political advantages to having someone like her on the ticket in 2008 – but I certainly don’t think the country would have gone into a death spiral with McCain in the White House. I’m glad that Obama won, however, and if the only two things that Obama had accomplished were the Affordable Care Act and ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, I’d say his election was worth it.
I’m passionate in my personal political beliefs, and I always want the candidate that I support (and the candidate whose beliefs and aims come closest to mirroring mine), but I’m not one of those people who automatically believe that the country is doomed if the other candidate wins the election. Although it is rapidly eroding, I still have faith in our political system, and still have hopes that (most) of our leaders truly want to work hard at actually governing the nation. That’s why I can look at the 2012 election, for example, and say that I’m glad Obama was re-elected and that he will likely accomplish more that I support than his opponent would have. Yet, I can also say that we wouldn’t have been doomed to catastrophic failure if Mitt Romney had won the race. Romney was a proven success as a an executive in business and politics, and I think he’s genuinely a good man and dedicated public servant who probably would have been a good President despite whatever political disagreements I might have found with him. When we immediately dismiss candidates or leaders from the opposite party, we suffocate any possibility of finding bipartisan answers to the questions we all face, regardless of which party we registered with. That straight-up eliminates our ability to have a government that actually governs with good faith. That’s a huge part of the problem within the current political climate.
Now, of course, there are exceptions. I’m totally willing to support the effort of political leaders from the opposing party if I truly believe they have the capacity (and the good intention) to govern. I don’t need to support or believe in their ideology to respect and appreciate their hard work as public servants trying to do what they see as right and managing the government as needed. That’s why I can say that I believe Mitt Romney probably would have been a good President if he had won the election, or that John McCain wouldn’t have burned the country to the ground if he had won. There are light years separating public servants like Romney or McCain from ill-suited, unqualified promoters and dangerous demagogues like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Carly Fiorina. It’s the same reason why I frequently take the time to highlight Paul Ryan’s reasonable leadership and why we need more public servants – on both sides of the spectrum – like Speaker Ryan, who recognizes that his first responsibilities are to his constituents in Wisconsin and the American people as a whole, and that his allegiance to his political party or to a specific party ideology are clearly further down the line.
Well, early Saturday morning we learned that Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin , is to be Mitt Romney’s pick for the next Vice President of The United States.
What are we to think of this selection? He’s not a graduate of Columbia University . He’s not a graduate of Harvard. He wasn’t selected as the President of the Harvard Law Review. He didn’t get a special free quota scholarship ride to any prestigious university and, instead, had to work his way through Miami University of Ohio. For God’s sake the man drove the Oscar Mayer Wiener Truck one summer and waited tables another!
One morning when Paul Ryan was sixteen years old he went in to wake his father up and found him dead of a heart attack. He didn’t write two books about that experience (like Obama did). Instead, he assumed the role of adult at an early age, never having the luxury to pursue youthful drug use and the art of socialist revolution.
Instead, Paul Ryan and his mother took his grandmother, suffering from Alzheimers, into the household and served as the primary care provider for his grandma. His grandma wasn’t the Vice President of the Bank of Hawaii (like Obama’s) so she could offer nothing in return, except the element of “need”.
Once Paul Ryan got his BA in Economics from Miami University of Ohio he was hired as a staff economist in Wisconsin Senator Kastin’s office. The job must have not paid well because young Ryan moonlighted as a waiter and fitness trainer. No one offered him a “token honor” position at the University of Chicago and a $200,000 dollar a year salary.
When a still young Paul Ryan returned to Wisconsin to run for Congress he didn’t demonize his opponent and dig up dirt to shovel against him. He waited until the standing Congressman vacated the office before seeking the office. In Janesville , Wisconsin they don’t have a big political machine to promote you, to criminalize your opponent; instead Paul Ryan had to go door to door and sit at kitchen tables and listen to his future constituents.
After getting elected to Congress Paul Ryan didn’t triumphantly march into Washington , buy himself a Georgetown townhouse and proceed over to K Street to rub elbows with lobbyists. He bunked in his Congressional office and used the house gym for showers and a fresh change of clothes.
Paul Ryan then married and took his bride back to Janesville . He lives on the same street he lived on as a kid and shares the neighborhood with eight other members of the Ryan clan. He hunts with the local Janesville hunt club and attends PTA meetings and other civic functions.
For those who can’t make those public functions, Paul Ryan bought an old bread truck, converted it into a “mobile constituent office” and drives around to meet with those who need his help and attention.
No, I don’t know if we can vote for a guy like this. He doesn’t have a regal pedigree; he’s Irish for God’s sake! No one awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize two months after getting elected. No one threw flowers or got “chills down their leg” as a he took his seat in Congress.
What is most despicable about Paul Ryan is that he has had the nerve to write the House Budget for three years in a row. He’s is brazen and heartless in advocating in that budget for a $5 trillion dollar reduction in federal spending over the next ten years! The House passed his budget three years in a row and three years in a row the Democratically controlled Senate has let it die in the upper house, without ever proposing a budget of their own. What is wrong with this guy? If Congress were to cut $5 trillion dollars from the budget where would the President get the money to give $500 million dollars to a bankrupt Solyndra? Or $200 million dollars for bankrupt Energy 1? Or $11 billion dollars to illegal aliens filing INIT, non-resident tax returns to claim $11 billion big ones in child tax credits, even for their children living in Mexico ?
I don’t know. Paul Ryan seems heartless to me. He keeps wanting to cut government waste, he keeps wanting to put a halt to those big GSA conventions in Vegas and, worse, he keeps trying to make people look at that $16.7 trillion dollar deficit! The guy’s no fun at all!
Who wants a numbers cruncher? Who wants someone spoiling the party by showing folks the bill? Nothing will spoil a party quicker than sending the host the bill before the party’s over.
Paul Ryan: I Won't Run For President In 2016 If Mitt Romney Runs Again
Paul Ryan is hesitant to discuss whether he’ll make a run for the White House in 2016, but he told HuffPost Live he definitely won’t mount a campaign if his former running mate Mitt Romney decides to give it another try.