From the moment Obama entered office, right-wing conservatives embraced the posture of hell-bent opposition. Recall, in Jan. 2009, hate radio host Rush Limbaugh expressed his hope that Obama fails. One month later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proudly embraced Limbaugh at a conservative conference. The fringe rhetoric of far right activists had quickly become the de facto governing strategy of the Republican leadership, as they adopted a posture of obstructionism.
Believing that the Republican strategy of opposition has played to his political benefit, McConnell is pledging to do more of the same if Republicans win back the Senate. In an interview with the National Journal’s Major Garrett, McConnell candidly acknowledged that he feels his “single most important” job is to defeat President Obama in 2012:
MCCONNELL: We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, “Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.”
NATIONAL JOURNAL: What’s the job?
MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
McConnell added, “Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful. … We need to work smarter than we did [in 1995], and not become the foil off which [President Obama] pivots.” In 1995, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich led a shutdown of the government, which many Republicans now acknowledge was a “serious mistake, tactically and substantively.”