Spend enough time around Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and you’ll learn a few things about him. He’s the most disciplined GOP leader on the Hill, and one of its savviest. His devious parliamentary tactics have been a cornerstone of the GOP strategy to thwart the Democratic agenda, of which he was the key architect.
But he rarely loses his cool.
That’s why his acid-tongued attack on President Obama Tuesday came as such a surprise — and, perhaps, an indication that Obama’s campaign against the GOP for blocking his jobs bill is working.
Here’s the audio, from McConnell’s weekly Capitol briefing with reporters.
The full transcription is below. Again, what’s surprising isn’t the message — which he’s delivered before, and delivers more succinctly than any other Republican in the Capitol. It’s the antipathy in his voice, which was perhaps more evident in person than on tape.
This is politics, so it his attack isn’t exactly a clean shot. Republicans in Congress did stifle and weaken Obama’s agenda in 2009 and 2010. McConnell in particular united his caucus to filibuster and delay all of Obama’s big-ticket items from day one. And the growth of the debt is much more attributable to things like the Bush tax cuts (which Obama agreed to temporarily extend) and the automatic consequences of the recession (particularly higher unemployment spending and lower revenues) than to Obama’s stimulus bill or other policies.
But it’s a very potent attack. It boils down the GOP’s entire argument for voting Republican in 2012 to a few sentences.
“The President, I think, has become convinced that the economy is not likely to be much better a year from now, so he has started to campaign 13 months early, and he’s trying to convince the American people that it’s anybody else’s fault but his that we’re where we are.” McConnell said.
It must be the fault of those Republicans in Congress. It must be the fault of those rich people. It must be the fault of those people on Wall Street. I don’t think the American people are going to fall for it. He’s been president now for three years — for three years. We’ve run the national debt up 35 percent as he’s tried to prime the pump and borrow and spend our way into prosperity. I think complaints about Congress fall on deaf ears. He owned the Congress for the first two years. They did everything he wanted. Everything. The only thing they forgot to do — I don’t know why they overlooked this — they forgot to raise taxes. But they did everything else. They borrowed, they spent, they over-regulated. And all of those policies are in place and you can see how much it’s done for the economy: 1.5 million jobs lost since the first stimulus. Now he’s coming back and asking us to do it again. You all have heard this before, but it’s one of my favorite sayings: At home we say, “there’s no education the second kick of a mule.” We’ve already done this. We tried it. It failed. So I know he’s desperately interested in trying to blame anybody else. But he’s the President of the United States. He set the agenda. He got everything he wanted. And it didn’t work. And so I think next year the American people will have to decide whether they want more of the same, or whether they want to go in a different direction.”Brian Beutler
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.
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