I’ve often noted that American politics is increasingly noted by the high five hyper-partisan political culture — when partisans savor not so much a victory but as being able to inflict a political defeat on a hated foe (hated because they have an opposing D or R in front of their party affiliation). The actual issue in contention almost becomes secondary; the big accomplishment is to “win” and watch and almost taste the other side feeling a painful loss.
You don’t usually anything that undignified as coming from a major leader. You don’t see that glee, if a leaders feels it. The leader usually tries to contain it (at least as much as they can) and the glee from partisans around them. But now we see it — from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
GO HERE and for a report with graphics on how his facebook page has been gloating over defeating gun control.
Gun control: a divisive issue, to be sure, is one where injured victims such as Gabby Giffords, and the devastated parents of the Newtown first graders shot to bits in a terrifying end of life 5 minute bullet-fest, had stepped forward to plead for action.
You’d think that a REAL dignified political leader would take into consideration the feelings of those devastated by the deaths or injuries. He’d take his win, accept it and move on. He’d make sure anything that represented him on paper or in cyberspace would stress his focus on ISSUES and content.
But that didn’t matter with McConnell, or at least to those doing his Facebook page with his authorization.
It’s yet another sign of how far the quality our political leadership has sunk in the 21st century America.
A minority leader or majority leader in the past might be passionate and ruthless — but he’d never sunk to the level of a partisan hack gloating over defeating foes from another party. You might even say that if you look at past Senate Republican leaders such as Bob Dole, Bill Frist, Howard Baker, Hugh Scott, Everett Dirksen and many others who knew how to take not just defeat but victory, McConnell is almost dishonoring the dignity of the office he holds.
McConnell is the most hated Senator in the United States, according to polls. Now we might now add the least professional behaving Republican Senate leader in memory as he provides evidence that for him it apparently isn’t all about issues and policies good for the country. It’s about gloating over inflicting a defeat on an opponent — whether Harry Reid, Barack Obama or the people who pleaded their hearts out on the defeated gun control measure.
P.S. Lest you think that McConnell didn’t play a role in making sure Democrats couldn’t get the votes, here’s this bit from First Read:
A final factor in the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey amendment’s was the doubt that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would act on the Senate gun-control bill, even if the amendment had passed with 60-plus votes. Speaker John Boehner last week repeated that the House would consider any legislation the Senate passes, but he didn’t commit to a vote. “I fully expect that the House will act in some way, shape or form,” he said. “But to make a blanket commitment without knowing what the underlying bill is I think would be irresponsible on my part,” So the possible thinking among some red-state Democrats up for re-election next year: Why should I take a tough vote when the House might not even take up the bill? In fact, we can report that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made this exact pitch to his GOP colleagues who might have been considering voting for the measure.
McConnell will be a hero to many conservatives but I suspect to many centrists, independent voters, and moderates he will remain a symbol of the un-rebranded GOP which insists it’s rebranding but snows little real evidence that it is doing it or even wants to do it.
In the meantime, if McConnell shows up with bandages on his hands, it’ll be due to all those high fives.
UPDATE: TPM’s Brian Bueller puts the vote into perspective. He says all the reports about the Senate defeating the bill miss — and obscure — a crucial point:
In this case, as in so many others, a GOP filibuster threat meant the amendment needed 60 votes to carry. So even though a healthy majority of the Senate (mostly Democrats) voted for the legislation, it died.
That obviously happens all the time in the Senate. And I always think it’s important to be clear about it. But the gun control filibuster heightens the urgency for a few reasons.
1). It’s an issue of national and electoral importance.
2). It’s an issue that’s effectively designed to allow the parties to direct cultural signals to voters — but that can’t really happen if the media is ambiguous about what happened.
3). This wasn’t, like so many other filibusters, a backdoor source of leverage for the minority — a means of securing a more favorable final outcome in a debate over must-pass legislation like increasing the debt limit or appropriations. It’s just dead. And it will remain dead unless several of the members who voted no experience unlikely changes of heart.
4). It was drafted in bipartisan fashion by one of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats and one of its most conservative Republicans.
5). Most crucially, it would have passed if given the up-or-down vote President Obama demanded.
…Obviously the major advocates on both sides know what happened, and have their own ways of communicating with voters. But 90 percent of the population supported the Manchin-Toomey amendment. Not all of them are super tuned in. They can’t exact a political price from elected officials unless they know what really happened. And the members who supported the filibuster will get undeserved cover from reports that characterize it as the “Senate’s” failure.
UPDATE II: More on McConnell’s political “style.”
UPDATE III: But this fits into a general Republican trend. See my opening paragraph about high fives and rubbing the other side’s face in it.