The value of McConnell’s occasional candor

THE VALUE OF MCCONNELL’S OCCASIONAL CANDOR…. For all of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) many faults, he has one especially interesting habit. Once in a while, for no apparent reason, McConnell will say what he’s actually thinking, giving us fairly valuable insights into his plans and motivations.

This isn’t to say he’s honest — McConnell has repeatedly proven he isn’t — but rather, that he has occasional flashes of candor. McConnell conceded in August, for example, that as far as he’s concerned, literally every idea considered by the Senate in the next Congress “is going to have to be center-right,” even if there’s a Democratic majority.

In March, McConnell acknowledged the entire basis for his health care strategy, explaining that he demanded unanimous GOP opposition, even to ideas Republicans liked, as a way of making reform unpopular. The strategy had nothing to do with policy or actually helping people, and everything to do with denying Democrats a victory.

And McConnell was candid once more in a new interview with National Journal, explaining what he sees as his “single most important” task in the near future.

“[W]e need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, ‘Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.’ […]

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president…. Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”

This wasn’t just some throwaway line — McConnell is explaining, on the record, how he intends to approach the policymaking process in 2011 and 2012. And as far as the Republicans’ Senate leader is concerned, all of his efforts will be built around destruction.

It’s tempting to think responsible lawmakers, when asked about their top goals, would talk about job creation, national security, immigration policy, energy, etc. But not Mitch McConnell. He sees destroying the president of the United States in the midst of multiple crises as his “single most important” goal. This is what the administration is supposed to negotiate with next year.

Even Joe Scarborough characterized McConnell’s comments as “embarrassing” and “pathetic.” He’s right.

This comes, by the way, on the heels of several other high-profile Republicans admitting last week that they have no intention of compromising with the White House on anything.

The obvious takeaway here is that GOP leaders have literally no interest in actually solving problems or passing legislation. None. But the larger truth is that President Obama, who’s spoken a bit lately about the need for “humility,” needs to realize that Republican obstinacy and extremist tactics aren’t going to get better after the midterms; they’re going to get worse.

McConnell and his cohorts have made abundantly clear that Americans’ welfare and the nation’s future pale in comparison to the Republican quest for power. The president stands in the way. If he’s not prepared for what they intend to bring, the showdown isn’t going to go well.