Mitch McConnell draws a line in the sand for the Tea Party

posted at 8:41 am on November 8, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Up until now, the war between the Tea Party and the “establishment GOP” (however you define that) has been kind of one sided. Responses from the old guard have tended to run along the lines of, “we’re all fighting for the same goals, we just don’t agree on the tactics” or, more simply, “can’t we all just get along?” But this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sat down with Peggy Noonan for a WSJ interview which is bound to have some tongues wagging. In it, he’s essentially taken off the gloves, and said what most of the media mavens have been repeating for months now.

“The most important election yesterday wasn’t the governor of New Jersey and it wasn’t the governor of Virginia, it was the special election for Congress in South Alabama, where a candidate who said the shutdown was a great idea, the president was born in Kenya, and that he opposed Speaker Boehner came in second.” The victory of a more electable Republican, is significant, Mr. McConnell says. To govern, parties must win. To win, parties must “run candidates that don’t scare the general public, [and] convey the impression that we could actually be responsible for governing, you can trust us—we’re adults here, we’re grown-ups.”

The tea party, he says, consists of “people who are angry and upset at government—and I agree with them.” But “I think, honestly, many of them have been misled. . . . They’ve been told the reason we can’t get to better outcomes than we’ve gotten is not because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House but because Republicans have been insufficiently feisty. Well, that’s just not true, and I think that the folks that I have difficulty with are the leaders of some of these groups who basically mislead them for profit. . . . They raise money . . . take their cut and spend it” on political action that hurts Republicans.

He also didn’t shy away from taking on the Senate Conservatives Fund.

He refers to the Senate Conservatives Fund. “That’s the one I’m prepared to be specific about.” The fund “has elected more Democrats than the Democratic Senatorial Committee over the last three cycles.” The group is targeting Mr. McConnell with ads slamming his leadership during the shutdown. “Right now they’re on the air in obvious coordination with Harry Reid’s super PAC—Harry Reid’s!—in the same markets, at roughly the same amount, at the same time.”

The last money quote for you refers specifically to the primary challenge he’s facing.

But says he isn’t worried about his own race: “I don’t wanna be overly cocky, but I’m gonna be the Republican nominee next year.”

This is about as close to an open declaration of war that McConnell has come. It would seem that the time for “let’s all go along to get along” is over, and the GOP is ready to air all the dirty laundry in public. But here’s one interesting thing for you to consider this morning. You’ll notice that Mitch didn’t say, “I’m gonna be the Senate Minority Leader after the next election” or, “I’m going to be serving in this seat for another six years.” He just said he was going to be the nominee. That sounds like his focus has shifted to the very real battle he faces on his own Right flank, rather than pretending that the Tea Party challenge is little more than the buzzing of flies and he’s focusing on his Democratic challenger.

I’m not sure how much else he can (or needs to) do at this point. McConnell has secured the early endorsements of as many big hitting Tea Party folks as he could find out of the gate, starting with Rand Paul. He’s raised money in piles he hasn’t needed in a very long time and attempted to define his opponent long before he got enough cash and clout to define himself. In short, McConnell has followed every rule in the standard election playbook to set himself up for a win, and all he can do now is hope that the voters follow predictable patterns.

But is Mitch somehow “giving permission” for everyone else in the country – from Graham to Enzi – to start putting up wanted posters of Tea Party upstarts with targets on their faces? If so, Reagan’s 11th commandment is well and truly out the window for both sides, and the primary is going to be a far more bloody affair than I’d been predicting as recently as this summer. Discuss.

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Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude.

Bmore on November 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

:) You’re good.

Schadenfreude on November 9, 2013 at 6:47 PM

The good people of KY will sort it out. They’ve had years to learn, eons, it seems.

Schadenfreude on November 9, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Schadenfreude on November 9, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Lolz! You are in the record book. I owe you some $ for the use. ; )

Bmore on November 9, 2013 at 6:52 PM


KOOLAID2 on November 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Look at it this way:

Sort of mean and down and dirty but if you use ObamaCare/Global Warming/Fast and Furious/Bengazie/$17 Trillion in short term debt/ and $90 Trillion in never funded ponzie operations in the calucations you get the idea…..

RINO’s like Mitch McConnell/McCain/Romney/Bush I/II/Graham/Boehner are just the KY-Jelly they use to make it feel easy when they ram it up yours…….

Look in the mirror,,,, it is U.S. to blame.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 9, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Mitch McConnell is a gentleman, a scholar, and an awesome Senate leader.
He’s also incredibly witty – something most of you RINO hunters don’t have the first clue about.

The Senate Conservatives Fund is a bunch of grifters raking in the dough, who for all intents and purposes might as well work for the DNC.

Buy Danish on November 8, 2013 at 7:15 PM

You forgot the /sarc/ tag.

Solaratov on November 9, 2013 at 8:40 PM

@Solaratov see JannyMae on November 8, 2013 at 10:41 PM

bluefox on November 9, 2013 at 11:06 PM

When do they open that?
My wife has been trying to get in here for months.

dentarthurdent on November 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

The last open registration was on Dec 14, 2011. Ed or AP opens it up whenever they decide, no particular procedure that I’m aware of.
Strictly their decision.

bluefox on November 10, 2013 at 12:28 AM

I love when establishment republicans blame the tea party types for the uprising. Are we seriously hearing this guy criticize fundraising of ANY group? How many establishment republicans raise money, get elected and thumb their noses at those very people that elected them? Oh yeah, that NEVER happens.
The tea party is simply the vehicle that gives voice to disenchanted conservatives. Had the establishment respected and supported the desires of conservatives (especially after running on conservatism) and worked to do what they said they would do, instead of showing more dedication to some democrats, the tea party wouldn’t exist.

JeffinOrlando on November 10, 2013 at 2:17 PM

McConnell is the currently minority leader and here he is projecting that he will be the nominee for his own seat. He’s set his sights very low for someone who is supposed to be a prominent Republican. Perhaps he could turn his criticism to the party he is intended to oppose?

virgo on November 11, 2013 at 3:17 AM

Ummmmmm….. No. I think not. Please don’t think that I am being disrespectful; it’s not my intention. The fact is… YOU, KIND SIR, ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Truth be known, we can’t wait to vote you out of office…. it just can’t come soon enough… You, McCain, Graham, Cantor and all the other RINOS… have truly shown your intentions and lust for power. You may be the RINO nominee, that’s fine… it’s a free country. You may even win and be the Republican runner… but I guarantee, kind sir, there will then spring an overshadowing presence from which the weight will crush the Republican and Democratic parties into oblivion. Call it what you may… Tea Party, Teabaggers, strange birds,… you may be comforted for a short time the louder you yell, only shows how desperate you REALLY are. Democrats, throwing everything that they have into your campaign, Soros’ money, anything will not legally turn this tide. Can you stop a stream of slow oozing lava? It dominates, sir. You have been measured, weighed and found wanting. No, you will be wrested from your position as the Lord Himself will dredge from the ground any fruit bearing plant or tree that produces no good fruit. Jesus, himself, cursed the fig tree which shown the appearance of provision, but was benign and the next day it had withered. No… you have bared your soul… there is no good fruit to be had… You have shown the promise of provision… there is no fruit present. Pray that your fate ends not as the fig tree.

CynicalOptimist on November 11, 2013 at 1:11 PM

McConnell is right, these TeaTards are the best thing that ever happened to Democrats.

BradTank on November 12, 2013 at 11:15 AM