Mitch McConnell thought he was being clever and cute. In reality, he came off as condescending and complacent.
The U.S. Senate majority leader from Kentucky told a Rotary Club back home Aug. 7 that the problem in Washington was a neophyte president.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” he said, unsuccessfully fighting back the short curl of a wry grin. “And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
It couldn’t be Congress or the Senate or him. Nah.
Even in the home of the Kentucky Derby, they call that horse manure.
Maybe that condescension and complacency – and the Senate’s near-complete lack of accomplishment in the first half of 2017 – is why the majority leader is, as a headline trumpeted last week at TheHill.com, “the country’s least popular politician.”
To be precise, McConnell has a 19 percent favorability rating nationally. Back at home, he’s even less popular: 18 percent.
McConnell’s recent foil in the White House, President Trump, is under water in polls but still more than doubles McConnell’s popularity.
Worse yet, The Hill writes, “McConnell is the only Republican elected official polled that is not viewed favorably by a majority of his own party.”
Little wonder why. As Trump noted, McConnell and other establishment Republicans wailed about Obamacare for seven years and now, when they have control of Congress, McConnell’s Senate can’t muster a repeal and replace bill. Nor do they have much else to show for their time in D.C., including tax reform and an infrastructure bill.
McConnell, in all his condescension, may be content with the status quo but most voters are not. We’re increasingly angry.
It may not get much better, unless members of the Senate and House get an earful back home during their August recess. Congress still has no budget, and the debt ceiling is looming. Both issues await when they return, as well as health care and tax cuts.
McConnell’s complacency about “how quickly things happen in the democratic process” also stands in stark contrast to his promises at the start of the year. In fact, he said as early as December of last year that repealing Obamacare would be the first order of business the next month.
Apparently he, too, had “excessive expectations” about what his Senate could get done. Now he tries to blame the president? Spare us, senator.
If productivity doesn’t pick up markedly when the Senate returns to work after Labor Day, one of two things need to go: either the filibuster rule that allows a 41-vote minority to block legislation in the Senate – or McConnell as leader.
Mr. McConnell took office way back in 1985, at the dawn of mobile phones, the second Ronald Reagan term and the movie Back to the Future. So one supposes he’s in a prime position to lecture our president on how slowly things happen in the democratic process.
By his showing in the polls, and the rise of President Trump, and with all the unfinished work on the Senate floor, he should know it’s not good enough.