Movement Conservatives Are out For Blood

Mitch McConnell has an impressive number of conservative enemies. We already know that Steve Bannon is gunning for him, but today we saw another major shot across his bow. In a joint press conference and press release, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell, Senate Conservatives Fund president Ken Cuccinelli II, Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon, David Bozell of For America, and the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, Richard Viguerie, all demanded that McConnell and his top lieutenants step down. It’s almost as if these conservatives thought that something might actually get done if they helped elect a Republican president and a Republican Congress.

Carl Hulse of the New York Times says that failure to pass some tax cuts is no longer an option for the GOP. As a result, he predicts that they’ll at least overcome their internal differences to pass a budget through the Senate that can get the tax cut ball rolling. I’d make the same prediction, although this tells us relatively little about their prospects of uniting around a bill that they can actually pass. So far, though, it’s not clear that the Senate Republicans will have the votes to pass a budget. Senators McCain, Paul, Corker, and Collins have to be considered possible ‘nos,’ and that’s assuming I haven’t overlooked anyone. I know Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota just came out and said he wouldn’t vote for a repeal of the Estate Tax, for example.

But with all this outside pressure on McConnell and his team to resign, it will probably intimidate the doubters into letting the process start. Were the effort to die on the launching pad, it would probably be the end of the current leaderships’ tenure.

It’s tempting to say that this is the primary motivation for the folks who are attacking McConnell. They want to help get a tax cut passed. But the groups opposing him aren’t exactly the Chamber of Commerce. They’re movement conservatives, some of them founders of the movement. I think they’re genuinely out for blood and don’t really care about short-term considerations. If the tax effort fails and causes McConnell and his team to lose their grip on power, they’ll take that trade. If it weakens Trump, even fatally, they won’t consider that a big problem, either. They’re trying to complete their takeover a major political party, and every other consideration appears to pale in comparison.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.