This quote from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been making the rounds today, and with good reason. It’s interesting from a variety of angles.
After [the debt-ceiling fight] was all over, Obama seemed to speak for revolted Americans — the kind of people who always want a new Washington — when he described the government as “dysfunctional.”
But at the Capitol, behind the four doors and the three receptionists and the police guard, McConnell said he could imagine doing this again.
“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”
Let’s unpack this a bit.
First, after this brutal fiasco undermined the economy and made the United States an international laughingstock, the leading Senate Republican fully expects to do this again. McConnell believes his party has “learned” the value in pursuing this, regardless of the consequences. I wonder if voters might want to consider this before the 2012 elections.
Second, it’s a little surprising to hear him concede that “most” Republicans didn’t think the hostage should be shot. If that’s true, maybe next time, Democrats shouldn’t pay the ransom?
And third, note that McConnell was quite candid in his choice of words. It’s not just Democrats talking about Republicans taking “hostages” and demanding “ransoms”; here’s the leading Senate Republican using the exact same language. In other words, Mitch McConnell admitted, out loud and on the record, that his party took the full faith and credit of the United States hostage, demanded a ransom, and they fully intend to do it again.
Given all of this, it’s rather bizarre for Republicans to complain about being equated with terrorists. As Dave Weigel noted yesterday, “If you don’t want your opponent to label you a hostage-taker, here’s an idea: Don’t take hostages.”