GOP Senate hopeful: Let's face it, McConnell's got to go

Give Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) credit for self-promotion. Trailing in the primary fight to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate, he announced an effort to get everyone to withdraw from the race and have the front-runner, interim Senator Luther Strange, resign from the Senate to allow Sessions to get appointed to fill his own term. Brooks didn’t check in with Strange first, who scoffed at Brooks’ plan as “what a cand does when he learns he’s plummeted to a distant 3rd & is desp 2 get attention.”

Brooks didn’t waste any time getting onto CNN to lead the charge in attacking Mitch McConnell’s leadership in the chamber Brooks is fighting to join. It’s more self-promotion, of course — this is something that Senate Republicans will have to work out — but is Brooks wrong?

“It was a failure from the newest member, Luther Strange, at the bottom, to the very top with Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader,” he added. “There is an old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Now is not the time to leave the American people in a lurch. Now is not the time to leave American health care at risk.”

“If they’re going to quit, by golly they’d better start at the top with Mitch McConnell leaving his position, and letting somebody new, bold, and conservative take the reigns. So they can come up with a plan that can get through the Senate and serve the needs of the American people,” he also said.

“Unquestionably the leadership at the top is responsible,” Brooks said after a follow up question from CNN host Chris Cuomo. “The buck stops there. That’s why you take on that sort of responsibility. And if Mitch McConnell can’t get the job done on this, how is he going to get the job done on the rest of President Trump’s agenda? … As I see it now, this is a killer… We need new leadership in the Senate if they can’t get the job done.”

The giveaway here is Brook’s attack on Strange, who … fully supported the repeal effort. Strange didn’t cast a single vote in opposition to the bill, nor did he even float any major public reservations to it. Brooks certainly can attack McConnell as a failed strategist for not rounding up 50 of 52 votes for Brooks’ preferred outcome, but how is any of that Strange’s fault? Brooks seems more intent on campaigning for the special election than in cogent political analysis of Senate leadership.

That doesn’t necessarily negate his point, of course. It’s tough to argue that a man who outfought Democrats for years and put the GOP in position to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed as the replacement for Antonin Scalia rather than Merrick Garland should get the boot after a single loss. However, this was a rather momentous failure, one predicated on the lack of preparation to deal effectively with ObamaCare repeal over several years.

Still … who’d replace McConnell? John Cornyn would be next in line, but he was also the Majority Whip when this collapse took place too. It would have to be someone outside of current leadership, but there’s no indication that anyone else has enough heft to herd these cats either. Who else could have gotten John McCain, Susan Collins, and/or Lisa Murkowski to jump aboard the “skinny repeal” trainwreck-to-be? Brooks would probably suggest himself for the job, but he has to get to the Senate first … and so far, he’s not seeing much success on that front either.