The Quiet Man

The immigration debate has brought a number of Republican Senators to the forefront, especially Jeff Sessions, Lindsey Graham, Jim DeMint, and James Inhofe. The man who some might have expected on the front lines, however, has taken an ever-lower profile during the fracas Mitch McConnell, the highly effective Minority Leader, has unexpectedly transformed into a wallflower:

With his caucus bitterly divided and the Senate descending into procedural warfare, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) stayed away from the Senate floor as the most sweeping overhaul of immigration laws in 21 years hung in the balance.
Facing the biggest challenge of his leadership tenure, McConnell has largely chosen to work behind the scenes and instead allow a bloc of conservatives to spar with Republican supporters of the bill. …
Since the bipartisan negotiators and the White House reached a deal on the bill last month, opposition on the right has been growing. That has put Republicans who are up for reelection, including McConnell, in an uncomfortable position as the White House has launched an all-out push to give President Bush a major victory in his final months in office.
McConnell’s absence from the fight highlighted his lukewarm feeling on the bill. He is neither an advocate nor a staunch critic of the bill, and has not said how he would vote on the underlying bill. The senator voted against efforts to shut down debate earlier this month, but voted Tuesday on a motion to proceed to debating the bill. Last year he voted for the measure that passed the Senate but failed to clear Congress.
Publicly, McConnell has tried to limit talking about the issue. Reporters who pepper him with questions about immigration legislation often are greeted with silence. And recently he cut short a news conference on energy issues once questions turned to the immigration bill.

The newfound stoicism has its merits, on at least two bases. McConnell has to run for re-election in conservative Kentucky next year, and as the song says, it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. He wants to leave his options open, and he’s doing a good job of it by confounding anyone who wants to know where he actually stands on the bill.
On the political side, it’s almost certainly genius. He has worked with the White House, as his job requires, to assist them in getting their policy onto the Senate floor. That’s as fas as he’s going to go publicly for either George Bush or Harry Reid. The Majority Leader complained about getting the blame for the arrogant and unprecedented process being used for the immigration bill, telling people that McConnell agreed to it beforehand. That may be true, but it isn’t McConnell on the Senate floor trying to defend forcing a vote on a bill that hadn’t even been correctly published yet. McConnell has hung the process firmly around Reid’s neck.
Unfortunately for McConnell, he’s going to have to choose sides today. While one more procedural hurdle could trip the bill after this cloture vote, today’s opportunity holds the most promise for actually killing the bill. The Quiet Man will have to speak up and be counted.

8 thoughts on “The Quiet Man”

  1. McConnell can certainly be safe in voting against cloture. As the Captain reported on the death of Shamnesty part 1, the excuse can be used that the bill was not “open” enough to be worthy of passage. Nobody can deny that this has been an attempt to jam a 2.5 trillion dollar Ted Kennedy/John McCain gift to Mexico down the American people’s throats. Nobody but the “No-cons” (my take on neo-con) and the Democrats are happy about it.
    Another reason McConnell should choose to derail the bill: The huge cross the aisle popularity of doing so. While the Bush administration is trotting out poor Tony Snow to hawk this bill like a Used Car salesman who has nothing to offer but painted yellow cabs, the true political genious would see that strong opposition of this will surely draw voters from Democrats and Independents. Quite a few Dems know that their party is flushing their country down the toilet as well, and will side with anyone who takes a stand, ala Ronald Reagan.
    I think it is obvious that unless McConnell is completely without political sense he will vote against the Amnesty Sham. It seems only sensible to do so, even as the No-Cons little Lindsey Graham and John McCain circle the drain. We will not forget this guys, and we are coming with the tar and feathers….

  2. Re: harleycon5 at June 28, 2007 9:18 AM

    harleycon5 wrote: “We will not forget this guys, and we are coming with the tar and feathers….”

    If you do, you’ll have to get past me first. I admire them. They’re doing what they believe in, and I believe in, and choosing the best option of the only options available today in a representative body, with very wide-ranging opinions. Representative Democracy sucks, but it sucks less than everything else. This immigration problem is a problem that can’t just wait around two years for a solution. The choice is now. I hope they don’t give a crap about the next election. This is too important to base their decision on that.

  3. RBMN said:
    “Representative Democracy sucks”
    No, it doesn’t.
    What sucks is voting on a bill which is rejected by 75% of the citizenry, voting on a bill which was largely crafted in secret, voting on a bill which never went through any committee, voting on a bill on which NO public hearings were ever held, and voting on a bill which, I am willing to say, has not been read by a single Senator.
    THATS what sucks.

  4. Re: Labamigo at June 28, 2007 9:49 AM
    If you’re going to quote me, please use the whole sentence.

  5. No, RBMN, what they are doing is the will of whoever PAID THEM FOR THEIR DAMN VOTE ON THIS POS BILL!!. The people who put them in office have been told for the most part to F***off and die. So much for your “democracy”. And if you want to stand with these bought and paid for assholes, that’s your privilege.
    Sounds like somebody woke up there in the senate.

  6. McConnell has trashed his base here in Kentucky by action and statements. Did you know his local office thinks 70% of us in KY support this bill.
    He is out of touch with the base, and DITCH Senior Mitch bumper stichers are on the road in KY.

  7. Lukewarm = spineless.
    McConnell had a chance to stand for something monumental today, and he chose to go and hide instead. McConnell has shown his true color: yellow. Throw him out with all the other slimebags when his time is due.

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