“I think there is an awareness on the part of rational Republicans – and I think so [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell Rational Republican, [Texas Sen. John] Cornin, too, has acknowledged that they can’t go on like this, “Biden said.
Which raises an interesting question: Is Biden right? Is McConnell part of the party’s “rational” Republican wing?
To answer this question, you must first decide: What does Biden mean by “rational”? Since he did not explain, we must draw a conclusion. And my conclusion is that Biden defines the rational as a) a desire to break away from Donald Trump and b) a desire to compromise when compromise is available.
So, using this definition, let’s see how McConnell fits into the “rational” category.
According to FiveThirtyEight, McConnell voted in favor of Trump in 91.4% of the time he was president. That made McConnell Trump’s 18th best senator, along with South Dakota Senator John Tun, the second Republican in the Senate leadership, and slightly more than Trump than senators like Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
This finding may be a little misleading, of course, because as the party leader in the Senate, McConnell saw his work, at least in part, as pushing Trump’s agenda through Congress. And as a leader, he had some influence on what Trump’s agenda would look like.
In other conservatism measures, McConnell scored lower. According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, McConnell has a 63% lifetime rating (and a 69% rating in the current session of Congress). The average score for a Republican senator is 81%. The Growth Club, a fiscally conservative organization, gives McConnell a 74% life expectancy – the 21st highest among Republican senators.
(It is worth noting here that there must be a distinction between the desire to support Trump’s agenda and the broader dimensions of conservatism. Trumpism is not necessarily equal to conservatism.)
McConnell’s record is less mixed, especially with regard to weapons. He has an A + rating from the National Weapons Association, which noted in a 2014 campaign that the Kentucky Republican “resisted any attempt by President Obama, former New York Mayor Bloomberg and other gun extremists to degrade and undermine our rights under World War II.” repair and hunting heritage. “
Leaving the numbers aside, it is true that McConnell showed a willingness to criticize Trump. After the uprising on January 6, 2021 in the US Capitol, McConnell said that Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”
But it is also true that McConnell’s speech came AFTER he voted against condemning Trump in the Senate impeachment process.
What Biden ultimately means when he describes McConnell (and Cornin) as “rational” Republicans is that he believes they are open to bargaining. Remember that Biden, as vice president, personally negotiated deals with McConnell to avoid defaulting on the nation’s debts in 2011 and falling off the fiscal scale in 2013.
“You were a true friend, you were a trusted partner, and it was an honor to serve with you,” McConnell told Biden in the Senate in the last days of the Obama presidency in 2016. “Everyone will miss us.”
As I wrote last week, the most important thing to remember when trying to understand McConnell is that he always considers the policy of each situation. This is especially true now that the 2022 by-elections are fast approaching and the Senate majority is very active.
If McConnell believes society as a whole wants some action on guns, he will work with Cornyn and Democrat leaders to find areas of agreement. If the desire for action fades after Uwalde, it is possible that McConnell will withdraw from his desire for Republicans to find a compromise on weapons.
Given this, the best way to understand McConnell is not in the rational / irrational spectrum. Instead, it depends on whether or not an issue is politically advantageous for him and his country.