Here’s an impressive package of candor from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who spoke to reporters Wednesday at a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christan Science Monitor.
McConnell admitted that his party is divided over President Obama’s military action in Libya, but that you’re only hearing about it because Obama’s a Democrat. Many of these same divisions, he said, existed under President Bush, but party loyalty “muted” the dissent.
“I’m not sure that these kinds of differences might not have been there in a more latent form when you had a Republican president,” McConnell admitted. “But I do think there’s more of a tendency to pull together when the guy in the White House is on your side.”
McConnell said some in his conference oppose the Libya action on the grounds that it costs too much, others on the grounds that the military’s stretched too thin, and yet more on the grounds that it’s an inappropriate use of the military.
“I think some of these views were probably held by some of my members even in the previous administration but party loyalty tends to kind of mute them,” he said. “A lot of our members, not having a Republican in the White House, feel more free to kind of express their reservations which might have been somewhat muted during the previous administration.”
We all know this happens. And McConnell’s likely trying to send a signal to dissident members to simmer down. But it’s rare to see a sitting party leader admit to this sort of thing.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.