Gibbs blasts McConnell’s partisan vow

GIBBS BLASTS MCCONNELL’S PARTISAN VOW…. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) concession in an interview with National Journal that he already has a strategy in mind for 2011 and 2012. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” McConnell said, adding, “Our single biggest political goal is to give [the Republican] nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”

It was quite a concession. In the near future, the Senate Republican strategy, based on McConnell’s own remarks, will be built around destroying the president, not solving problems.

Joe Scarborough characterized McConnell’s comments as “embarrassing” and “pathetic,” while Chris Hayes noted that the McConnell quote “should be dominating the news cycle.”

Alas, political reporters have largely ignored the remarks. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to elevate the story yesterday during a briefing, telling reporters “it’s a deeply disappointing message that regardless of the outcome of this election, political gridlock and political gamesmanship is what the American people have to look forward to over the next two years.”

“I doubt that regardless of the outcome of the election in a week, that the message that the voters of this country are going to send is that they want to see more politics being played, that they want to see the process bogged down and mired in more partisan political games.

“Our job should be to work together to move this country forward, to strengthen our economy, and to improve the lives of its citizens. There’s time for a political campaign now and there will be time in two years for a presidential campaign. But in the days and the weeks and the months after this campaign, the message that voters are going to send and the message that we as elected officials should take is that of working together, of getting things done that are constructive, again, that help strengthen our economy.

“We have had over the past two years enough game-playing to satisfy ourselves for many political lifetimes…. There will be time for a political campaign. But members of the Senate are elected and hired by the people of the United States to get stuff done for the people of the United States, not to posture and play political games.”

Watch for this to be a central message in the coming months. If Americans choose gridlock and partisan strife on Tuesday, as seems likely, those same voters will wonder why policymakers can’t get anything done in the next Congress. Party leaders will be going to great lengths to insist their rivals are to blame.

The challenge for Republicans will be avoiding responsibility after already having boasted that they have no intention of compromising with anyone about anything.

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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.