According to stereotype, the Republican Party runs like a corporation. Lines of authority are clear; leaders are respected and feared. GOP reformers, explained aNational Journal article earlier this year, must “come to terms with the hierarchical nature of the party.”
I bet Mitch McConnell chuckles when he hears things like that. Last week, the Senate minority leader came under ferocious conservative attack for allowing a deal that permitted votes on several long-stalled Obama-administration nominees. So at a meeting of Senate Republicans, McConnell said he had not been party to the agreement—a remarkable admission for the man who supposedly leads the Senate GOP. But most remarkable was what happened next: Tennessee’s Bob Corker, one of the senators who hatched the deal, interrupted McConnell’s remarks by yelling “bullshit”.
Stuff like that has been happening a lot. McConnell is so afraid of his party’s right-wing that he’s largely given up trying to cut deals with Democrats. On immigration and gun control, the two biggest legislative issues of 2012, he stood aside and let others do the haggling. As protection against his party’s base, he’s taken to boasting about his friendship with his newly elected Kentucky colleague, and Tea Party favorite, Rand Paul, a man who until recently McConnell clearly loathed.
It’s no better in the House. John Boehner, whom Nancy Pelosi recently dubbed “the weakest speaker in history,” last year tried, and failed, to get House Republicans to back a grand budget compromise with the Obama administration. Then he went to Plan B, which he hatched himself, and they rejected that too. Finally, on January 2 of this year, when he voted for a more modest deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” he not only failed to bring along most of his caucus. He couldn’t even convince his deputy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Not that Cantor’s authority is much greater. Since Mitt Romney’s defeat, Cantor has been going around saying the GOP must offer concrete solutions to the problems ordinary families face. But in January, when Cantor pushed a relief bill for communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, most House Republicans voted no. And in April, when he tried to buttress one of the most popular parts of Obamacare, which makes it easier for people with preexisting health conditions to get coverage,conservative revolt prevented him from even bringing the measure up for a vote.
It’s the same with the Republican National Committee. In March, the party issued a report declaring, “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” Yet most congressional Republicans remain adamantly opposed. Not only don’t these rank-and-file GOP pols fear dissing party leaders, they positively relish it. As Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen recently noted in Politico, “most young conservatives [in Congress] … get more mileage from snubbing their leaders” than supporting them.
- Mitch McConnell’s fractured Senate GOP caucus (supersaiyan.newsvine.com)
- Looks like Mitch McConnell is about to get a tea party challenger (dailykos.com)
- Haha Ha. Harry Reid: McConnell Tried To Make Love To TEA Party (bluegrassbulletin.com)
- Matt Bevin, Likely Mitch McConnell Challenger, Would ‘Be More Than A Pesky Distraction’: Political Scientist (huffingtonpost.com)
- The ‘bullshit’ caucus in the GOP giving McConnell a headache (dailykos.com)
- Reid Hurls Tea Party Jab At McConnell (huffingtonpost.com)