John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Mitch McConnell is a True ‘Profile in Courage’

Posted on February 18, 2014
Sen Mitch McConnell official

There have been no big profiles about the man exhibiting a great deal of political courage in the United States Senate, and that’s a shame.

According to Wikipedia:
Profiles in Courage is a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate's history. The book profiles senators who crossed party lines and/or defied the opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.”

The national media doesn’t love Mitch McConnell and never really has.  He is a tough political pro and smart deal-cutter who initially made his reputation as a fierce opponent of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.  Turns out that what McConnell said about McCain-Feingold – that certain parts would be ruled unconstitutional and that we would end up with a political system where unaccountable money would find its way into campaigns in a way that would destroy the power of the political parties and give a bunch of influence to billionaires – was right on target.

But the national media doesn’t like to admit when it is wrong, which is early and often.

McConnell didn’t make any friends in the media when he promised to do everything he could to make Barack Obama a one-term President.  That didn’t work out very well for the Senate Minority Leader or for the Republican Party, but you can’t blame an opposition leader for trying.

The senior Senator from the Bluegrass State faces a tough Kentucky two-step this year.  He has to survive a primary challenge from a Wall Street billionaire, and then he has to beat an attractive, if untested, scion of a politically connected family in the general election.

McConnell’s poll ratings have never been that outstanding in Kentucky.  Despite its distaste for President Obama, blue is not an unknown color in the Bluegrass state.  There are pockets of very poor people who often vote their economic interests, which usually means an expansion of the welfare state, and McConnell, a fiscal hawk if there ever has been one, isn’t overwhelmingly popular among those folks.

Mitch McConnell is currently under brutal attack from the Tea Party movement.  Despite being the most conservative Senate Republican Minority Leader in history, and probably the number enemy one of the Obama Administration, the Tea Party has said that he is a sell-out and an establishment stooge.

It is true that McConnell is neither a nihilist nor an anarchist, so he doesn’t fit in well with the philosophy of some of these groups.  McConnell also understands that certain Tea Party organizations have a vested interest in attacking him.  It is far better, from a money-making perspective, to attack not only President Obama (hell, everybody does that) but also Republican leaders.

McConnell has tried to hit these shady outfits where it hurts -- in their pocketbook -- by discouraging any group he does business with to do business with them.  And, as it turns out , the leader does a lot of business.

The media is not likely to take sides in this particular brawl.  After all, they want to see a good story, and Tea Party-on-Republican violence is a good story.

But should Mitch McConnell lose either of his races this year, the Senate would be in big trouble.  It is hard to see any other figure within the Upper Chamber who would have the courage to keep the government paying its bills, the way that McConnell did last week.  It’s hard to see how any other leader could have found a way to get out of the fiscal crisis that faced the government at the beginning of last year.  It’s hard to see anybody else showing the kind of leadership this country desperately needs in a violently partisan atmosphere that typifies the Obama Presidency.

That McConnell has shown this courage time after time has gone largely unnoticed by the pundit class.  McConnell has proven to be an indispensable man in making the Senate work to avoid financial meltdowns and to keep the government running.   If he loses, the ramifications would be far more serious for the country than is in any way acknowledged by the national media that purports to care about how the government runs the nation’s business.

McConnell is a true profile in courage, but the media elite sure wants to keep that fact low-profile.