Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, like his South Carolina counterpart Lindsey Graham, taps frequently into the benefits of MAGA’s passionate America First agenda to win support. Both Senators rally up the base on culture war issues just like a Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert.
But McConnell and Graham know there is more to governance than culture wars — that there are real wars. And the two lawmakers — old school Republicans with more than a half century in the Senate between them — will admit, unlike Greene and Boebert, that Joe Biden and the Democrats aren’t the biggest enemy facing America.
(Greene just announced articles of impeachment against President Biden, the kind of move McConnell would likely never consider.)
This dichotomy of loyalties — to MAGA and to America — puts McConnell in challenging positions. Today McConnell tweeted his outrage that Biden was not taking the GOP debt ceiling threats, led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, seriously enough, warning the White House that “time is of the essence.”
.@POTUS waited months before agreeing to negotiate with @SpeakerMcCarthy on a spending deal. They are the only two who can reach an agreement. It is past time for the White House to get serious. Time is of the essence.— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) May 19, 2023
McConnell, like McCarthy and Graham, knows that — unlike the actions of Russia against Ukraine — the debt ceiling issue is a manufactured crisis and would be a self-inflicted wound triggered solely by the GOP, were McCarthy to follow through on his threat and fail to raise the debt limit as it has been lifted without fail 78 separate times in the last 53 years — including 18 times during Ronald Reagan‘s presidency.
(NOTE: Reagan is considered a GOP standard bearer on the economic front — i.e., it’s “morning in America again.”)
But evincing his challenging position, McConnell is — rather than merely castigating the President for his absence from debt negotiations — also praising Biden’s pursuit of an anti-MAGA agenda during his G7 Japan visit, which includes marshalling further support for Ukraine, support that is anathema to America First adherents.
McConnell tacitly acknowledges that Biden’s business in Japan doesn’t leave a lot of time to simultaneously negotiate with truculent fellow Americans in the House to avoid irresponsibly clobbering the economy for no reason.
As @POTUS meets in Japan with our strongest economic partners, I hope he will build on the West’s support for Ukraine by clearing the way for the transfer of critical weapons. We must move at the speed of relevance to help them liberate their territory from Russian occupation.— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) May 18, 2023
Conceding that Biden is busy doing important work in Japan “with our strongest economic partners,” McConnell hopes Biden “will build on the West’s support for Ukraine by clearing the way for the transfer of critical weapons” while there.
MAGA Republicans like Greene don’t believe in the U.S. support of Ukraine, saying it falls outside of the America First agenda. But McConnell, in a tough spot, acknowledges that America’s safety and prosperity depends on its global presence, strength, and influence.
Regarding Biden’s work in Japan, McConnell again says the President and the West must understand time is of the essence, imploring him “move at the speed of relevance” — this time against a real, foreign enemy instead of a domestic congressman holding a “hand grenade,” as one Senator has characterized McCarthy.