McConnell sees his low-key mien simply as an outgrowth of “focus,” a prominent word in his vernacular, and what he calls the “single most important attribute any leader — not just in politics, but in any profession — can possess.” In politics, he says, “there are all kinds of things coming at you that are unanticipated every day, and that’s certainly true in my job. But if you focus on the things you are trying to achieve, and don’t get distracted by all of the other things that are happening all around you, including the completely unpredictable, which occurs so frequently, you’ve got a much better chance of succeeding.”
Focus, McConnell notes, also includes the ability to deal with the political reality as it is, instead of as one wishes it to be. In late January 2009, days after the Obama inauguration, McConnell addressed the National Press Club and offered an olive branch to the new president. Now the top Republican inside the Beltway, McConnell wanted to outline his hopes for the upcoming session — and set the stakes.