If you’re in the market for a slightly-used majority, Curator of the Senate Mitch McConnell (R-Country Club) is your man. His low-mileage beauty is in mint condition. Mitch only takes it out for a spin when he needs to confirm the occasional Supreme Court Justice or high-level administration appointee. Otherwise he keeps the majority dusted, polished and up on the blocks.
McConnell treats his majority much better than Harry Reid treated the Democrat majority. Harry, with sidekick Obama, drove the wheels off theirs. No tune-ups, no oil changes and towards the end they were driving on the rims. After two years of total Democrat control that majority looked like it had been driven by Thelma & Louise.
Reid’s hooptie passed Obamacare, stimulus and changed the rules of the filibuster. The best one can say for McConnell’s majority is it looks distinguished in the annual group picture.
Now The Hill warns Steve Bannon’s plan to recruit primary opponents for RINO senators, “will put their majority at risk in 2018.” But isn’t the real measure of a majority what it’s accomplished?
The problem for genuine conservatives – not the country club conservatives in Congress – is a majority that’s treated like a family heirloom and only taken out when company visits is worse than no majority at all.
Because of McConnell’s inherent weakness, his majority is only nominal and not functional. McConnell doesn’t think in terms of what he might accomplish now, he worries about what might befall him in the future.
Once Gen. William T. Sherman was asked about U.S. Grant’s success on the battlefield and he replied, “I’ll tell you where he beats me and where he beats the world. He doesn’t give a damn about what the enemy does out of his sight…He uses such information as he has according to his best judgment; he issues his orders and does his level best to carry them out without much reference to what is going on about him and, so far, experience seems to have fully justified him.”
McConnell, by comparison, is a political paraplegic, paralyzed by what might happen.
A perfect example is the false claim McConnell needs a super majority of 60 votes to pass a bill. That’s an excuse McConnell uses to justify his failures. Bills in the Senate still pass by a simple majority, like they always have. The 60-vote margin is what is required to end a filibuster. For the first 228 years of Congress’ existence a filibuster meant all business in the Senate would stop while the opposition party or individual held the floor and talked until victory, compromise or a lost cloture vote (currently 60 votes).
In 1975 the rule changed. The new rule only required the opposition party to notify the majority that planned to filibuster a bill. Instead of coming to the floor, the bill was sidelined in some backroom and business continued.
McConnell could revert to the former filibuster rule any time he chose. The change would force Democrats to publicly stop all business in the Senate. Their obstruction would be obvious. Voters would know which party is the party of “No” and McConnell could order C-SPAN to display a timer on the screen to show how long Democrats had been delaying the people’s business.
The behind-the-scenes filibuster worked well for passive-aggressive McConnell when Republicans were in the minority. Unfortunately for him, conservative and Republican voters voted for aggressive-aggressive leadership in the last election. McConnell’s basically a caretaking seat-warmer and he won’t change the rule because he wants to use it again when his nightmare comes true and he loses the majority.
More proof “legislative mastermind” McConnell can’t see the obvious. The next Democrat majority, with a Democrat president, will change the filibuster rule for regular legislation exactly like Reid changed it for lower court nominations. McConnell’s anxiety and gopher-like caution will have wasted the majority he has now with nothing to show for it.
McConnell is currently holding off a donor revolt by assuring skeptical moneymen that he has a plan for the majority if they will keep toting the note. But as long as McConnell is in the driver’s seat, conservative governing principles will remain on the blocks with the majority.
Politico quoted Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers who, like Bannon, is urging a purge of the comfortable and complacent. Ayers contends the GOP is “on track to get shellacked” if Congress doesn’t get behind Trump’s agenda. That’s why he also wants to find primary opponents for corporate Republicans roadblocks.
Ayers reasoning is correct, “look, if we’re going to be in the minority again, we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority.”
© Copyright 2017 Michael Shannon, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.