One of the strongest talking points for both President Obama and Democrats everywhere is that GOP lawmakers refuse to pass positive legislation because of an explicit plan to undermine Obama’s reelection chances. This statement both excuses the President from lagging economic numbers on the grounds that Republicans stymied his policies and casts Republicans as downright un-American for putting political concerns ahead of the country. It’s a powerful one-two rhetorical punch that the entire national Democratic Party has employed constantly.
Plus it has the advantage of video from Senator Mitch McConnell:
As Mitt Romney would tell you today, don’t let a friendly audience lull you into something you might regret. What makes Romney smarter than Mitch McConnell is that Romney didn’t know the statement was being taped.
Today, for the first time in two years, Republicans are taking umbrage at the claim. Debra Saunders labels it a “myth,” a characterization that suggests not mere falsehood, but affirmative misstatement to protect the legacy of a politician that Republicans already accuse of receiving mythical levels of “hero worship.” It demeans Obama as a fanciful character bolstered by mythology. Republicans have played this card ever since John McCain charged Barack Obama with being a celebrity. It doesn’t work. But why not go to this well again, GOP! The modern conservative machine mimics the strategic know-how of a drunken tourist in Vegas, continuing to throw good money after bad on his beloved but downtrodden team to defeat juggernaut after juggernaut. “It’s their year!” “Now people will realize Barack Obama isn’t real!”
But now the GOP has a fact checker in their corner — even though not a week ago fact checkers were the inner sanctum of evil within the liberal media. Oh how convenient news changes opinions on a dime. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post explains that Mitch McConnell did not utter the infamous sentiment that Republicans viewed defeating Barack Obama in 2012 as the top legislative priority facing the nation until 2010. Meaning Republicans tried to cooperate! Seriously! Kessler concludes:
Perhaps, in Obama’s memory, McConnell was always uncooperative. But that does not give him and other Democrats the license to rearrange the chronology to suit the party’s talking points.
Nor does it give Kessler license to ignore long-established factual records in order to play a semantic game based on when Mitch McConnell articulated the precise language that made it into that video. Maybe Kessler is trying to throw a bone to Republicans so they stop bashing him. Fair enough. But if Kessler dug just a tad deeper he’d note that we already have confirmation that the Republican leadership actually penned a plan to use obstinance to make Barack Obama a one-term President on INAUGURATION NIGHT!
But “pay no attention to the man behind the mirror” shout conservatives like Debra Saunders, who are running with Kessler’s accurate but misleading fact checking job. I can’t imagine this ploy succeeding, especially during a presidential campaign season where Republicans are, by necessity, plastering the airwaves explaining that they deserve elected office because they will block a hypothetical second Obama term.
In the legal world there are certain arguments you have to raise at the outset of a case or lose them forever. Even with the most charitable interpretation of McConnell’s comments, the Republicans have not raised an objection to the statement for over two years, and have even doubled down on it more than once. This last minute plea to recognize the GOP as truly “cooperative” is too little, too late from a party starting to realize that they’ve been bloodied by a one-two punch.