Tuesday, December 21, 2010

McConnell gets Pott(er)y-mouthed with the President

When, exactly, will the hubris of the Republican leadership boomerang? Here's Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor yesterday, impugning the President's motives in pushing for ratification of a nuclear arms treaty backed by all six living former Republican secretaries of state:
Our top concern should be the safety and security of our nation, not some politician's desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the first of the year.

The projection -- who's gamed the timing of this vote? -- take one's breath away. Even more so, the disrespect.

McConnell's locution -- some politician -- recalls the sneer of the rapacious banker Potter in It's a Wonderful Life, as he smears the lending practices of  the Bailey Building & Loan  -- and particularly of its president-to-be, that model of empathic probity young George Bailey:
You see, if you shoot pool with some employee here, you can come and borrow money.

You might argue that an ideological caricature like Potter the banker doesn't much illuminate complex contemporary political reality.   But turn that charge around. Republicans, in their demonization of Obama, are caricaturing themselves.Why credit the fulminations of some shameless lying demagogue?
Obama, meanwhile, maintains his Marquess of Queensberry demeanor, in public at least. Here's the response to McConnell's announcement that he would not support the treaty:
“We respect Senator McConnell’s view, but weren’t surprised by it, and we certainly were not counting on his vote,” said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.
That recalls Obama's reaction to Kyl's announcement last month that he couldn't support the treaty's passage in this session: “I believe that Senator Kyl wants a safe and secure America, just like I do, and is well motivated.”

The kind words showered on those who are openly putting Obama's political demise above all other policy considerations are hard for those appalled by Republican intransigence and extremism to take. But is it too much to hope that such a stance will sit better with the American people over the long haul than the sneers and smears of McConnell's crew?

Of course the calendar manipulation, as John Kerry drove home yesterday, is all on McConnell's side. Here's ThinkProgress's distillation (and emphasis):
I would say to my friend from Kentucky: Just because you say it, doesn’t make it true. Our friends on the other side of the aisle have a habit of repeating things that have been completely refuted by every fact there is. … The facts are that this treaty is not being rushed.
This treaty has been delayed at the request of Republicans. It was delayed 13 times… to have more time to deal with the modernization issue, which the administration has completely, totally, thoroughly dealt with in good faith. I’d like to know where the good faith comes from on the other side. They [the administration] put extra money in, they sat and negotiated, they sent people to Arizona to brief Senator Kyl personally. For weeks we delayed the process of moving forward on this treaty in order accommodate our friends on the other side of the aisle. And now fully accommodated, with their requests entirely met, they come back and say ‘oh its being rushed.’ Well Mr. President today marks our sixth day of debate on the New START treaty. That’s a fact.I mean is there no shame.
No shame is the bottom line. And no decency, in the end.

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