Mitch McConnell has been called lots of things in his political life. No doubt McConnell has been incredibly good at building his power and political base, but he could be missing a golden opportunity. The senior Senator from Kentucky has always claimed Henry Clay as a political hero, and since Clay was known as “The Great Compromiser”, you would think McConnell could see the chance he has to follow that route.
With the sequestration cuts looming, and a deadlock already in place between Senate Democrats and House Republicans, McConnell is in the perfect position to help effect an agreement via compromise. While McConnel and Harry Reid are on opposite sides politically, the two have always maintaied a cordial relationship out of the political spotlight. Reid has even spoken to McConnell scholars at the University Of Louisville. Why doesn’t Mitch call Reid and House Speaker John Boehner together for talks on averting this looming crisis?
Politically it’s a win-win for McConnell. He takes the sequestration issue away from the White House, and puts it squarely in his court. If as I suspect would happen, the sides reach an agreement, he takes credit. If it goes south, he can claim he tried but failed to bring them together. If it should breed success, McConnell would then be able to justifiably claim he was able to reach across the aisles of congress and effect compromise.
This would also likely have an impact on his upcoming re-election effort. He seems to think Ashley Judd will be a formidable candidate if she runs, and she may well be very tough. If Mitch should reach out to Dems, he could blunt some of the inevitible charges of rank partisanship that may come up. I happen to think Judd will not run, and I have a long list of reasons why, but that’s for another post.
If he ever does reach out, does it signal a kinder gentler Mitch McConnell? Hardly! But it would showcase the practical side of the Senator. Why is this a good idea with an election coming up? Because even though McConnell has a huge war chest and hasn’t had a real challenge to his seat recently, the political climate has changed drastically in the past five years. Since the rise of the Tea Party, extremes on both side have pulled hard in one direction of the other. Barack Obama was re-elected not by pulling left, but pulling to the center. McConnell being nothing if not practical, realizes the center is better for him but needs a reason to shift. This compromise of he could effect it, might pull him where he needs to go.
Al Mayo was the former Capitol Bureau Chief for Clear Channel Radio, the Kentucky News Network, and WHAS radio (Louisville).