HOLDING BAD PUNDITS ACCOUNTABLE PART 671…From today’s Washington Post:

Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists’ influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.

The guiding force behind this cynical gambit? New GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell.

It’s not exactly a surpise that McConnell is turning out to be a bare-knuckled partisan in his new job. In our October issue, Cliff Schecter and I took a look at McConnell’s record in the Senate: his shameless support for the pet causes of the GOP’s largest corporate contributors, his unbending opposition to efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics, and his willingness to put legislative trickery in the service of narrow partisan advantage, just as he did last night. “In uniting around Mitch McConnell,” we concluded, “Republicans are, in effect, doubling down on the governing style that got them, and us, into this mess in the first place.”

David Broder had a different take. In a December Washington Post column, the dean of the Beltway press corps led with the heartwarming news that McConnell had named two Democrats — Mike Mansfield and George Mitchell — as role models for how he hopes to operate as GOP leader. Broder went on to make much of McConnell’s assurance that “divided government…need not produce gridlock,” even noting that McConnell had named ethics reform as an area of potential agreement. The Kentuckian, Broder felt, could turn out to be a bipartisan dealmaker in the Mansfield-Mitchell mould.

Yeah, not so much, judging by last night. I suppose it’s conceivable that McConnell could, over the next two years, metamorphose into the constructive and high-minded legislative partner of David Broder’s fantasies. But it seems unlikely. Not that Broder will point that out.