Singing Along with Mitch

by Jay Nordlinger

A few days ago, we NR types had a talk with Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate. (These days, minority leaders don’t like to be called minority leaders. They like to be called “the Republican leader,” or “the Democratic leader.” I’m old-school, I’m afraid.) Our Bob Costa reported on this, here. You don’t need to know any more. But I’d like to add a few notes, just for the heck of it. Some things that struck me.

If Obama is reelected, said McConnell, he (the president) will be able to do no legislative harm. He can do no legislative harm now. There are too many Republicans. But there is other harm: Federal regulators have great power. There’s little that Congress can do to limit them. So it would be hard to slow Obama down . . .

Entitlements are the big enchilada, McConnell said (in so many words). “Everything else is a sideshow.” Taxes go up, taxes go down — the entitlements are where the money is.

The economy may improve — and it may not. Is what we are experiencing now “the new normal”?

McConnell told an amazing story about a business that was investigated by the Obama administration. An investigator admitted to the business owner that his business was simply making “too much” money — and was therefore under suspicion. (The business was clean as a whistle.)

The senator referred to the big Republican romp in 2010 as a “national restraining order,” on Obama.

In 2005, President George W. Bush was trying to reform Social Security. McConnell went to some Democrats, seeing whether they would help. They said, “You have the White House, you have the Senate, and you have the House. No. It’s your problem.”

Big things are better done, said McConnell, with divided government. (He elaborated.)

Obama refused to work with Republicans to remedy major problems — structural problems. “As an American citizen, I’m disappointed,” said McConnell. I believed him — that he was dismayed as a citizen, not just as a senator and partisan.

He talked of one of the Democrats’ electoral advantages: It’s easy to promise that you’ll help someone with other people’s money.

Asked about his control over fellow Republican senators, he had a line about his job — the job of party leader in the Senate: “It’s like being the groundskeeper in a cemetery: Everyone is under you, but no one is listening to you.”

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: If not for the Kentucky drawl, McConnell would be more recognized for what he is, which is an intellectual, or at least a thinking, reading politician. 

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