Still, there is another sense in which McConnell probably deserves less credit than some observers are inclined to give him. How many of his Democratic colleagues actually wanted a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate? How many wanted to face their constituents’ questions about banning fracking or adding additional seats to the Supreme Court or any of the other absurd positions they committed themselves to during last year’s election? More to the point, how many of them would prefer the solemn responsibility of governing to four years of theatrical impeachment hearings and complaints about Republican obstruction?
This is the horrifying truth about American partisanship, the reason that the National Football League is vastly more entertaining than what goes on in Washington, D.C: almost no one there actually cares about winning. Holding on to office, getting the paychecks and the perks, receiving all the attention and adulation their parents and classmates apparently failed to shower upon them in their youth — these are what motivates most of our elected officials.
Which is why at the end of the day I am not hesitant to call McConnell the most effective Senate leader of the last half century, for the not very complicated reason that he not only cares about winning but does win more consistently than anyone else, regardless of the position in which he finds himself.