McConnell’s Literal Scorched Earth Campaign

Bill Scher

Sen. Mitch McConnell has led the Senate for three months. He has yet to pass any legislation that would show the public how the Republican Party would implement solutions like raising wages, making education affordable or, say, reducing carbon pollution.

Partly that is because he and his House counterpart John Boehner have their hands full containing their right flanks in order to keep the government open.

But partly it is because McConnell is expending a massive amount of effort to thwart President Obama from actually solving one these problems: namely, climate change.

As the New York Times reported last week, McConnell’s campaign amounts to occupational moonlighting, abandoning his senatorial duties, developing a game plan for governors to resist planned EPA regulations on power plants and “coordinating with lawyers and lobbying firms to try to ensure that the state plans are tangled up in legal delays.”

McConnell is executing a literal scorched-earth strategy: urging governors to embrace the long-discarded concept of nullification and ignore federal authority, in order to weaken America’s hand in international climate talks and ensure we fail to do our part to avert the baking of the planet.

If McConnell doesn’t like President Obama’s approach to solving the climate crisis, that is his right. But he happens to be in a position to offer alternative solutions if he wishes. He does not.

Which is strange, considering what McConnell said in January:

…there were two big issues in the [midterm] campaign. One was the president himself … But the other issue was dysfunction … And what the speaker and I are bound and determined to do is to demonstrate to the American people that the Congress is no longer dysfunctional; that we are going to try to make progress for the country.

McConnell knows full well the public wants to see the Republican Congress try to solve problems, not obstruct solutions. That does not require Republicans to agree with everything Obama wants, but it does require Republicans who oppose Obama’s solutions to be constructive and propose their own.

McConnell is going far out in the opposite direction, not just trying to obstruct Obama in the Senate, but enlisting governors outside Washington to undermine the Constitution and resist federal authority. That’s not only a threat to the planet, but a threat to the Republican Party’s hopes of restoring its reputation as a party serious about governing.

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