In case anyone out there didn't already know it, Thursday's comments by incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) make clear that Republican hypocrisy knows no bounds. President Obama's decision to, you know, actually exercise the powers granted to his office by the Constitution on issues like climate change, immigration, and net neutrality, rather than either resign or pledge to do nothing other than what the GOP-controlled Congress tells him to do, has left McConnell feeling "very disturbed." The honorable gentleman from Kentucky added:
"I had maybe naively hoped the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us," McConnell said. "I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good."
"[Presidents Reagan and Clinton after midterm losses] understood that the American people had elected divided government," McConnell said. "We'd like for the president to recognize the reality that he has the government that he has, not the one that he wishes he had, and work with us."
So, elected officials should respect the will of the people, huh? Can someone please remind me what top congressional Republicans swore to do in a secret meeting at a fancy joint in D.C. on the very night in January of 2009 Barack Obama was inaugurated as our 44th president?
"We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."
In 2008 the American people elected, to paraphrase McConnell's remarks from yesterday, "united government." They elected Democrats to huge majorities in the House and the Senate, and gave Barack Obama an electoral college landslide. Furthermore, just over 57 percent of eligible voters actually turned out to vote, the highest level in four decades.
Did Republicans in the House and Senate "recognize the reality of the government" they had in 2009, Senator McConnell? Or did they all, to a person, reject every compromise offered on health care reform and vote against it? And did they all, with only three exceptions (one of whom became a Democrat shortly thereafter), reject every compromise offered on the stimulus and vote against it? More broadly, did you, yourself, tell your fellow Republican senators even before the inauguration that they, in the words of one of them, "can't let [Obama] succeed in anything"?
But now Republicans have done an about-face. After midterm elections that saw the lowest voter turnout since 1942 at barely 36 percent, and with a Senate map fought almost completely in the relatively small number of states that voted for Mitt Romney, the GOP thinks that's the mandate that matters. Now, according to McConnell, is the time to listen to the American people. After 2008? Not so much.
We're going to need a new word to characterize this level of hypocrisy, folks. I'm open to your suggestions.