Freshmen Dems go looking for Mitch McConnell to pressure him on shutdown, end up at wrong office

The funny part of this isn’t the wrong turn. The funny part is the idea that McConnell, of all people, might be cowed by a bunch of Democrats. It’d be like the Freedom Caucus showing up at Pelosi’s office and demanding she back a balanced-budget amendment. Think she’d be intimidated?

— A GROUP OF HOUSE DEMOCRATIC FRESHMEN marched outside in the cold, to the Senate on Tuesday to confront SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL in his Russell office. The only thing is he doesn’t work in that office. They quickly switched to go to his Capitol office. When they got to the Senate side of the building, they left McConnell’s office, almost went to the Senate floor, but then quickly pivoted back to the House side of the building. If they wanted, they could’ve waited on the floor for him, since they have those privileges.

Yes, everyone’s favorite frosh was part of the group.

From the Hill:

They decided they would then deliver the letter to the Senate GOP cloakroom and to McConnell’s personal office in the Senate Russell Building. The problem, however, was they didn’t have enough copies.

So Ocasio-Cortez requested the use of McConnell’s office copying machine.

The freshmen then marched in the direction of the Senate chamber to deliver copies to the Senate Republican cloakroom, encountering there some confusion over the correct entrance to the room.

They left a note signed by more than 30 House freshmen for him on his desk in the Senate, hoping, I guess, that he’ll read it and “run train” on the shutdown.

I don’t understand this even as political theater. I understand the urge to do *something* theatrical, especially among purple-district freshmen Dems like Katie Hill. They’ve begun their stints in Congress having been roped into a highly unpopular shutdown standoff. Reelection bids in purple areas are hard enough without something like this on your record. Their constituents are restless. A publicity stunt is an obvious way to show voters back home that they’re trying to resolve it.

But why would they want to shift the focus of their wrath away from Trump to a much less visible pol like McConnell? Deliver the letter to POTUS instead. Pose for photos outside the White House. You’ll get even more press. And you’ll help counter his talking point that Democrats have essentially abandoned this process and are unwilling to face him.

And why would they think this stunt might hurt McConnell? He’s running for reelection next year in a red state where the right-wing base is lukewarm about him. A chance to stare down Ocasio-Cortez by standing firm with Trump is practically a PR gimmick for McConnell 2020.

We’ll know that the shutdown has reached unacceptable limits of political pain for the GOP once Cocaine Mitch starts making noise about ending it. For now, he’s looking at numbers like this:

Republican voters are still pretty dug in. (Democratic voters are extremely dug in.) But there are numbers of a different kind floating around too. At some point, the fear of angering righties by ending the shutdown without a wall will be surpassed by the fear of angering everyone else by not ending it. No one’s watching that more closely than McConnell.

Here are some other Dems in Puerto Rico recently, looking very concerned indeed about the shutdown.