One thing that has flown under the radar during the roll-out of Lindsey Graham 2.0 has been Mitch McConnell 2.0.
The Senate majority leader and occasional anti-Trumper has been pretty vociferous in his defense of the administration of late, especially when it came to the Kavanaugh nomination and subsequent fracas.
“Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man’s personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations that are unsubstantiated and uncorroborated,” McConnell said during a September speech from the Senate floor. “This is what the so-called ‘Resistance’ has become. A smear campaign, pure and simple, aided and abetted by members of the United States Senate.”
Would you see Mitch McConnell 1.x having said this from the floor of the Senate in January? Heck, I couldn’t even see him saying it from the confines of his living room.
Yet, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, McConnell insisted he wasn’t one of the Republicans “radicalized” by the Kavanaugh nomination process. Instead, he says his warming toward the Trump administration is based off of what it’s done in conjunction with the Republican-controlled Congress.
“This Congress has been the best two years of my time here,” McConnell said during an interview published Saturday.
“McConnell’s steered clear of discussing Trump’s presidential style when asked to explain how his view of Trump has evolved since rejecting his early candidacy in 2016,” the Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio wrote. “But he said he’s measuring Trump by what he accomplishes.”
“I look at the results,” McConnell said.
On issues like judicial appointees, tax reform and government deregulation, the Senate majority leader applauded the president’s role and insisted it was in line with conventional Republican prerogatives.
“He liked most of what was a traditional Republican agenda, has been supportive of that, and advocated much of it during the election,” McConnell said.
The Kavanaugh battle has also helped the party’s prospects in the Senate: “It’s because the Supreme Court underscored why the Senate is important,” McConnell said.
McConnell also touched on Trump’s appeal to a perfervid base.
“He’s got a unique personality, and obviously, he’s been a big success,” McConnell said, noting elsewhere in the interview that Trump “has a fervent group of supporters that are very helpful to us.”
While he thought that group could be distinguished from traditional Republicans, he still thought both groups could come together on issues like the Kavanaugh nomination — or Trump’s 2020 campaign.
“I think he can go to the American people in 2020 and correctly claim extraordinary success,” McConnell said.
This is a bit different than someone who said of Trump, during the 2016 campaign cycle, that his colleagues should “drop him like a hot rock” if he secured the nomination, as Ferrechio points out.
For all intents and purposes, the establishment did, whether it was under the pretense he had little chance of victory or was a threat to the GOP. He still won.
Nowadays, few in the GOP seem to argue with success — either from the Trump administration or McConnell 2.0.
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