Politics McConnell’s intriguing comment about the GOP and ‘the next election’
One of Kentucky's largest newspapers endorsed Mitch McConnell challenger Amy McGrath
"McConnell purports to care about Kentucky and the country, but time and again, he has chosen the GOP instead," Lexington Herald-Leader's editorial board said."That choice is Amy McGrath, a Democrat challenging longtime incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell," the paper's editorial board wrote in an op-ed. "During his 36 years in office, McConnell has made it perfectly clear that his only passion is the pursuit of power, his own and that of the Republican Party. For that reason alone, we would endorse his opponent.
While most Americans were wrapping up their weekend on Sunday, the Senate was debating something on which the ultimate conclusion is all but certain: Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
But sometimes in the course of debating foregone things, word choices can be notable. And one particular line from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has raised some eyebrows.
At the end of his remarks, McConnell did what he often does: Spike the football on his political gamesmanship. McConnell has spent the better part of the last four years rubbing Democrats’ noses in how the battle for the judiciary has played out — all of itof Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination and other Barack Obama court picks. So of course he was going to spend some time doing that Sunday as well.
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The comments, though, could also be read to point to an impending GOP loss.
“This is something to really be proud of and feel good about,” McConnell said of Barrett’s confirmation. “We made an important contribution to the future of this country. A lot of what we have done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election. [They] won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
What McConnell said about the staying power of Barrett’s confirmation is unquestionably true. Senate Republicans will soon have filled three vacancies to the Supreme Court in President Trump’s first term, tiling it in a clear 6-to-3 conservative direction. Given how long justices serve and how unpredictable the timing and frequency of vacancies can be, it could indeed take many years or even decades for Democrats to undo that.
Mitch McConnell’s grip on Kentucky, explained
Democrats face an uphill contest in the conservative state.Among the challenges they face is Kentucky’s conservative skew and the solid base of support McConnell has as a result. By emphasizing the funding he’s been able to bring back to Kentucky for projects like a veterans affairs medical center in Louisville and stressing how his prominent position benefits the state, McConnell has also made a case for his reelection that continues to resonate with many voters.
But what about the other thing McConnell said — that the GOP’s accomplishments will in many other cases “be undone sooner or later by the next election.” It’s one thing to say that it would take a long time for Democrats’ to claw back; it’s another to suggest that effort “will be” commencing after “the next election.” That, after all, would require Democrats to actually have the power to do so, which they would get only by winning the presidency and/or the Senate. Some have cast McConnell’s comments as waving a white flag in the 2020 election.
Another read on the comments is also plausible, though. Perhaps McConnell is simply referring to the “next election” in broader terms, rather than specifically 2020. He might have meant Democrats will need to keep winning the next election — whether in 2020, 2022, 2024, etc. — to claw their way back. Politics is somewhat cyclical, which means Democrats are likely due for a return to power at some point in the near future.
Survey: Nearly 2 out of 3 voters will cast their ballots early in-person or by mail, not on Election Day
The survey showed a significant partisan divide, too. Those supporting Biden are more likely to say they plan to vote by mail than those who support Trump.When combining those who are voting by mail (42%) and those who voting early in-person (26%), nearly 2 in 3 voters will be casting their ballot ahead of Election Day, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
McConnell’s office noted that the Senate majority leader has often made a similar point — that whatever the makeup of Washington in the near future, theunder Trump will be his lasting legacy.
When McConnell signaled in May 2019 that he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy if it arose in 2020, for instance, he said: “You want to have a long, lasting positive impact on the country.is a lifetime appointment to a young man or woman who believes in the quaint notion that the job of a judge is to follow the law.”
But McConnell’s choice of words is difficult to completely divorce from the significant deficit Trump currently faces. And it’s arguably not the only sign McConnell might believe his party is in line for a loss, whether in the presidential race and/or in the Senate (which is more of an open question).
He has stood strongly against the White House’s proposals for a big coronavirus relief bill, for instance, despite the White House’s apparent anxiety to get a deal done before the election. This might reflect legitimate concerns in his conference about the size of the relief package, but you would think Senate Republicans might try harder to do what they could to salvage the presidency — if they believed it was salvageable.
McConnell has also distanced himself somewhat from the coronavirus response that has so dogged the White House. He said recently, for example, that he“my impression was that their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I suggested that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”
McConnell is an exceedingly strategic politician, almost always thinking multiple steps ahead and choosing his words carefully. Maybe his Sunday comments were just a wayward choice of phrasing. But either way, McConnell’s comments sound a lot like those of a man who would like to help pre-write the post-mortems of a GOP loss before the election is over.
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