A crowd that’s tough to please

A CROWD THAT’S TOUGH TO PLEASE…. Josh Green spent some time in Kentucky, in advance of its high-profile Republican Senate primary. If the polls are right, right-wing ophthalmologist Rand Paul will defeat Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in their contest today, despite the enthusiastic support Grayson enjoys from the GOP establishment.

Green noted that the support from the party doesn’t effectively translate into votes, in large part because angry right-wing voters don’t think highly of the party’s leadership.

In my talks with voters on the campaign trail today and yesterday, the idea that the Republican Party is as complicit as the Democratic Party in what ails the country is something I heard again and again. I made a point of seeking out registered Republican voters, and the frustration with Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator and the Senate Minority Leader, seemed indistinguishable from — or perhaps better to say, “was a large part of” — the general frustration with Washington.

“Republicans in Washington, D.C. are just playing ‘follow the leader,’ Janice Cox told me at a rally in Paducah earlier today, to which she’d brought her daughter, grandchildren, and a jumbo-sized American flag. “We need a true constitutional conservative.”

Jon Chait had the same reaction to this that I did:

McConnell must want to tear his hair out. What more could he possibly do to oppose Obama’s agenda? He put intense pressure on his party to pull out of negotiations over health care reform. He maintained a united wall of opposition on virtually everything. He used every parliamentary trick at his disposal, slowing down Congress by filibustering even totally uncontroversial measures and low-level appointments. What more could he do? Do these people want him to use actual violence?

Right. For anyone to seriously think Mitch McConnell has been a reasonable, conciliatory Minority Leader, willing to work in good faith and play a constructive role in the policymaking process, is silly. He’s taken obstructionism to depths unseen in American history, effectively breaking the institution of the Senate.

If McConnell’s base wants him to be even more aggressive in blocking affairs of state, I shudder to think what their expectations might include.