The Corner

McConnell: Obama ‘Refuses to Accept the Fact that the Public isn’t Going to Applaud Everything He Does’

Senator minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) says President Obama and his liberal allies have launched a “coordinated assault” on free speech. He made the remark this morning in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, where he called out the IRS, plus Media Matters and other left-wing groups, for trying to “shut up” conservatives from participating in the political process.

“There’s the widespread effort to stifle speech from within the government itself, something the Obama Administration has been engaged in from its earliest days,” McConnell said. “Some have traced this back even further, to the 2008 campaign. But my central point last June, and my central point today, is this: the attacks on speech that we’ve seen over the past several years were never limited to a few Left-wing pressure groups or the DISCLOSE Act. They extend throughout the federal government, to places like the FEC, the FCC, HHS, the SEC, and as all Americans now know — even to the IRS. These assaults have often been aided and abetted by the administration’s allies in Congress. And they’re as virulent as ever.”

“Now we have an administration that’s desperately trying to prove that nobody at the top was involved in any of this stuff, even as they hope that the media loses interest in this scandal and moves on,” he continued. “But we can’t move on. Because as serious as the IRS scandal is, what we’re dealing with here is larger than the actions of one agency or any group of employees. This administration has institutionalized the practice of pitting bureaucrats against the very people they’re supposed to be serving, and it needs to stop.”

Later in the speech, McConnell cited NR’s own Jonah Goldberg as he discussed public-sector unions. “So it’s increasingly appropriate to ask whose interests these public sector unions have in mind — the taxpayers’, or their own,” he said. “And on this question, I’m with Jonah Goldberg: public sector unions are a 50-year mistake. Years ago, I saw the dangerous potential for collusion between lawmakers and public employee unions when I served as County Executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky. And I fought hard against the formation of public sector unions. At the time, there was bipartisan agreement on this issue. Most people realized it wasn’t in the public interest. But unfortunately the appeal of union support proved too great for some, and shortly after I was elected to the Senate, the dam of resistance broke, ushering in the same destructive arrangement that’s been gutting the finances of other cities across the country.” 

“There are a lot of important questions that remain to be answered about the IRS scandal,” McConnell concluded. “But let’s not lose sight of the larger scandal that’s been right in front of us for five years: a sitting president who simply refuses to accept the fact that the public isn’t going to applaud everything he does. So my plea to you today is that you call out these attacks on the First Amendment whenever you see them, regardless of the target. Because the right to free speech doesn’t exist to protect what’s popular. It exists to protect what’s unpopular. And the moment we forget that is the moment we’re all at risk. If liberals can’t compete on a level playing field, they should think up better arguments. But until they do, we need to be vigilant, and fight every assault on the First Amendment with everything we’ve got.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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