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NYT: McConnell’s strategy of unity has been forceful weapon

March 17, 2010

Reporters Carl Hulse and Adam Nagourney with the New York Times has a piece looking at the strategy employed by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell as Republican minority leader in the Senate to counter the big policy pushes of President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell during a 2009 visit to Owensboro Community & Technical College (M-I photo)

According to the article, that strategy has included an insistence on avoiding the short-term appeal of the spotlight from bipartisan cooperation. Judging by poll numbers and the legislative difficulties Democrats have encountered, the strategy appears to be working, according to Hulse and Nagourney.

From the article

In the process, Mr. McConnell, 68, a Kentuckian more at home plotting tactics in the cloakroom than writing legislation in a committee room or exhorting crowds on the campaign trail, has come to embody a kind of oppositional politics that critics say has left voters cynical about Washington, the Senate all but dysfunctional and the Republican Party without a positive agenda or message.

But in the short run at least, his approach has worked. For more than a year, he pleaded and cajoled to keep his caucus in line. He deployed poll data. He warned against the lure of the short-term attention to be gained by going bipartisan, and linked Republican gains in November to showing voters they could hold the line against big government.

On the major issues — not just health care, but financial regulation and the economic stimulus package, among others — Mr. McConnell has held Republican defections to somewhere between minimal and nonexistent, allowing him to slow the Democratic agenda if not defeat aspects of it. He has helped energize the Republican base, expose divisions among Democrats and turn the health care fight into a test of the Democrats’ ability to govern.

Give it a read.

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