McConnell’s bubble

MCCONNELL’S BUBBLE…. This afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) told his colleagues about how he spent his summer vacation.

“I know we always enjoy spending this time with our constituents and hearing their particular concerns. This year, most of us really got an earful…. Over the past several weeks, I visited a lot of doctors, nurses, seniors, hospital workers, small businessmen and women and a whole lot of other citizens across Kentucky and, for that matter, throughout the country.”

That sounds very nice. McConnell took some road trips and had a chance to hear a variety of perspectives.

Well, perhaps “variety” is the wrong word. What McConnell neglected to mention is that while most lawmakers, and even the president, hosted events in August at which critics and supporters of health care reform were heard, McConnell “visited” events that were closed to the public.

Last week, for example, McConnell joined Republican Sens. Kit Bond and John McCain at an event in Kansas City, Mo., where the three took turns slamming reform efforts. While Missouri’s Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) hosted huge discussions with friends and foes, McConnell’s event was limited to 100 people — all of whom were allowed to be in the same room as the Republican leader “by invitation only.”

As Amanda Terkel noted, McConnell and McCain also hosted health care forums in Charlotte, N.C., and Hialeah, Fla., and “both events will also be closed to the public.”

How many town-hall events did McConnell, a senator from a conservative “red” state, host during the recess? None.

Now, that’s McConnell’s right; town-hall events are hardly mandatory. But perhaps the Minority Leader, after chatting with hand-picked crowds, can skip the rhetoric about “spending time” with his constituents, “hearing their particular concerns.” McConnell stayed wrapped in a bubble of his own making.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.