Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s remarkably honest confession to National Journal‘s Major Garrett that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” got kicked around at length during Tuesday’s White House briefing. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs‘ responses seemed designed to shame the opposition into post-midterm cooperation, but several reporters, myself included, wondered from whence this hope sprang. The voters seem poised to reward McConnell’s party for two years of obstruction, so what is their incentive to do anything differently?
Before learning of McConnell’s remarks, President Obama told the National Journal that “I think it’s going to be important for Republicans to recognize that the American people aren’t simply looking for them to stand on the sidelines; they’re going to have to roll up their sleeves and get to work.”
McConnell’s statement, that the “single most important thing” is not jobs, or even tax cuts, but defeating President Obama, indicates that no such realization is forthcoming. As they have demonstrated these past two years, the Republicans are even willing to obstruct their own ideas in order to deny the President any political victory, so what hope is there that an even more powerful Republican minority (or majority?) will deign to do anything for the next two years?
Gibbs isn’t naive enough to think that, after making gains in both houses of congress, Republicans will simply drop the politics. He telegraphs as much when he tells Bill Press that he “simply took Mitch McConnell at his word.” He’s giving the Republicans a chance to fold their bluff, even if he knows they won’t.
Hoping that the Republicans will come around is all well and good, but if they won’t put down the Slurpee and roll up their sleeves, will President Obama roll up a newspaper? Or will we spend the next two years stuck in the political mud?
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