If the villain’s shoe fits…

As far as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is concerned, the White House has a “storyline” that isn’t true.

“Their storyline is that there must be some villain out there who’s keeping this administration from succeeding.”

The comment comes almost exactly a year to the day after McConnell conceded on the record that defeating the president in 2012 is his “top priority,” adding, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president…. Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”

As Jonathan Cohn explained, “I wasn’t that shocked by McConnell’s original statement. Heck, I even appreciated the candor. But if you’re going to make the president’s failure your top goal — and if you’re going to brag about it — you really can’t get upset when the president blames you for it.”

Greg Sargent added, “[T]here’s simply no longer any doubt that — whether for principled, ideological, or cynical reasons — Senate Republicans are denying Obama support for his policies partly to damage him politically.”

It’s worth pausing, from time to time, to appreciate just how unambiguous this record is. There “must be some villain out there” undermining the White House’s ability to succeed? There’s no reason to pretend that Mitch McConnell hasn’t earned the label.


* In March 2010, McConnell explained his decision to try to kill health care reform from the outset, regardless of merit or Democratic compromises, by demanding unanimous Republican opposition: “It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.” It’s a dynamic that made compromise, quite literally, impossible.

* Soon after, McConnell explained the importance he and the House GOP leadership put on “unify[ing] our members in opposition” to everything Democrats propose, because unanimous Republican disagreement would necessarily make Democratic ideas less popular. “Public opinion can change, but it is affected by what elected officials do,” McConnell conceded. “Our reaction to what [Democrats] were doing had a lot to do with how the public felt about it. Republican unity in the House and Senate has been the major contributing factor to shifting American public opinion.”

* In August 2010, McConnell said he’ll only consider negotiating with the White House if they agree to accept center-right proposals, with no exceptions, even if there’s a Democratic majority.

* In October 2010, McConnell conceded on the record that defeating the president in 2012 is his “top priority,” above literally everything else.

* In June 2011, McConnell said if President Obama asks him to consider an idea Republicans don’t like, it’s evidence of the president acting “in bad faith.”

* In August 2011, McConnell admitted that he and his Republican colleagues were willing to hold the nation and its economy “hostage,” threatening to destroy the United States’ full faith and credit on purpose.

* And two weeks ago, McConnell had enough breathtaking chutzpah to blame the White House for Washington gridlock.

“Their storyline is that there must be some villain out there who’s keeping this administration from succeeding.” The storyline appears to be accurate and the identity of the villain appears obvious.

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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.