Carl Hulse

How Mitch Made It

#PutiPoodle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; left), walks with President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting, 10 November 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

There is a question of whether political messaging is similar to sentiments regarding the periods in which humans have been recording audio or video, and the proposition that we should, as a society, have passed the threshold by which it seems plausible to say one did not say it when anyone in their right mind already knows there is a definitive recording of the very words one really did say. Perhaps it seems obscure, but twenty years ago, traditional Christianist evangelism faltered on the internet and required transformation in large part because countless repetition wore it thin, while myriad objections and retorts pelted traditional religionistic grifting into remission. At some point, then, we might wonder when the necromancy required to raise the dead horse in order to kill it and beat it to chum all over again becomes apparent to political audiences. NBC News brings the latest ouroboros ’round Republican mulberries:

Former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “watered down” a warning about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election and defended the Obama administration’s response to foreign meddling in the campaign.

The language in a September 2016 letter from congressional leaders to state election officials was drastically softened at McConnell’s urging, McDonough said in an exclusive interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press” . . . .

. . . . Asked if it was watered down at the insistence of McConnell and only McConnell, McDonough responded, “yes.”

Or, as Steve Benen reminds:

The problem, of course, is that every time Trump World turns its attention to officials’ response to Russian intervention in 2016, we’re reminded that it wasn’t Barack Obama who was negligent—it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

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What Mitch Made

#unprincipledleadership | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; left), walks with President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting, 10 November 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

There is the saying about how we Americans will get around to doing the right thing eventually; it is usually a begrudging concession, that we have no remaining alternatives or excuses. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that, generally speaking, we do not actually intend the harm we cause. Or maybe not; at some point, pleading stupidity over and over again is the sort of ritual that breeds resentment. Among Americans. Toward everyone else. Because how dare you say you’re smarter than we are every time we say how were we supposed to know.

Or, y’know … something like that.

Oh, hey, Steve Benen, ladies and gentlemen:

The Timesarticle added that McConnell has privately marveled at Trump’s unwillingness “to learn the basics of governing.” The Senate GOP leader has also “expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed.”

McConnell’s concerns are obviously grounded in fact, and on the surface, it’s tempting to feel some sympathy for him. But it’s important not to lose sight of the senator’s role in making the mess he finds himself in the middle of.

Like Dr. Frankenstein, McConnell created a monster he thought he could control, only to discover he doesn’t care for the results.

His quiet, unassuming demeanor notwithstanding, Mitch McConnell has spent many years taking a sledgehammer to American political norms. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank argued persuasively in April that the Kentucky Republican effectively “broke America.” The columnist added, “No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership”.

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Futility (Boehner Repeat Rehash Remix)

Don't ask me, I'm just the Speaker of the Fucking House

“He’s never wanted to just be speaker. He’s wanted to be a historically significant speaker.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK04)

It seemed a strange enough thing to say at the time. Consider that John Boehner’s historical significance as Speaker of the House might well be that he is the worst Speaker in history, at least until another Republican holds the job. Mr. Cole spoke of his friend and colleague just last November; Republicans had won a bicameral majority, and the article from Carle Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters is significant to this moment, opening:

John A. Boehner does not want to be remembered as the Shutdown Speaker.

As Congress returns from recess on Monday facing a Dec. 11 deadline for funding the government, Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republican leaders are working to persuade the rank and file — furious over President Obama’s executive action on immigration — that engaging in a spending confrontation is the wrong way to counter the White House. That would set the wrong tone, they argue, as Republicans prepare to take over Congress and fulfill promises to govern responsibly.

And, well, as matters of House leadership go, kicking the can so we can do this for another week works, but the question of tone and avoiding a spending confrontation over immigration worked out just about as well as you might expect.

That is to say, Nancy Pelosi bailed Mr. Boehner out, and all she really gets in exchange is to do this again later this week.

And all of this leading to Josh Hicks’ headline today explaining “Why a DHS shutdown won’t stop Obama’s immigration orders”.

While Boehner’s allies in the House explain, as Jesse Byrnes reported yesterday, that the Speaker’s job is not in jeopardy, it’s worth noting that when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH04) “repeatedly denied” the prospect of an ouster, it would seem someone was asking him directly.

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

The story so far: There is a war on, in case you hadn’t heard. Except it’s not a war, because Congress has not declared one, and sees no need to consider the question before the upcoming midterm election. Say what you will, but it’s Congress.

We heard earlier this month from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and others about how the Senate GOP intended to run out the clock before the midterm elections; a week ago, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) simply closed shop in the House of Representatives, getting his caucus out of town after eight working days in order to spend the subsequent fifty-four calendar days hiding from tough votes. And he did this on the same day he complained about how the unemployed have a sick idea that they would rather just sit around.

So, right. There’s a war on. Sort of. And Congress has no intention of doing anything more than rubber-stamping an existing covert program. Republicans, especially, will get back to complaining but refusing to face votes after the midterm election.

Oh.

Right. There’s this, from Carl Hulse of The New York Times:

With American airstrikes in Syria continuing, Speaker John A. Boehner is increasingly convinced that Congress must hold a full debate on granting President Obama the authority to use military force against terrorists.

“I have made it clear that I think the House and the Congress itself should speak,” the speaker said in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with First Draft.

But Mr. Boehner believes a post-election, lame-duck session is the wrong time for such a weighty decision.

“Doing this with a whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” he said.

Mr. Boehner, who is open to a more expansive military campaign to destroy the Islamic State, thinks lawmakers should take up the issue after the new Congress convenes in January.

At that time, he said, President Obama should come forward with a proposal for consideration.

The Seal of Speaker Boehner's House of RepresentativesSo there’s a war on. Kind of. But that question can wait until next year.

The Speaker offers a rather damning indictment of Congress. No wonder the American people have no faith in their legislative branch; the Speaker of the House has no faith in it, either.

And that is about the kindest interpretation of Boehner’s disgraceful Speakership we might distill from this latest episode.

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Hulse, Carl. “Boehner Says New Congress Should Debate Military Action”. First Draft. 25 September 2014.

Your Quote of the Day: McConnell Bites

Like a turkey in the headlights.So Steve Benen gets the early nod for your Quote of the Day, and yes, it is fair to say, “Oh, for ffff―! Boo! Hiss!”

But hearing Mitch McConnell complain about Capitol Hill dysfunction is a bit like hearing Uruguay’s Luis Suarez complaining about biting in soccer. It requires a failure of self-awareness that’s almost too staggering to contemplate.

I mean, really. Talk about going with the obvious. But, yes, Mitch McConnell is complaining about dysfunction in the United States Senate.

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Benen, Steve. “Mitch McConnell and ‘a new level of dysfunction'”. MSNBC. 25 January 2014.

Hulse, Carl and Adam Nagourney. “Senate G.O.P. Leader Finds Weapon in Unity”. The New York Times. 16 March 2010.

Marcos, Cristina. “McConnell: Obama’s bill-signing pen is ‘starting to rust'” The Hill. 24 June 2014.