I’m sure many of you got a kick over the mini-implosion of Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign yesterday, with his own campaign manager admitting that he thinks McConnell sucks and is only working for him to further the hopes of Rand Paul. It all ended up with this cringey-not-going-to-fix-the-damage picture of Mitch and his disser yucking up for the picture above. I get it. I thought it was hilarious too. But let’s be clear. It will have chaotic effects on Washington and perhaps the whole national economy for the next year.I’m coming around to the idea that Mitch McConnell could actually lose his reelection battle next year, through a mix of deep unpopularity, a tough and well financed primary challenger and a decent Democratic opponent. But I want to bring us back to Sahil Kapur’s piece from earlier this week on how McConnell’s problems at home make a government shutdown and a lot of other nonsense much more likely. Whether or not McConnell finally wins or loses is basically a secondary point. It’s what he’ll do trying to win from now until election day 2014.
For all his nonsense, since 2010, it’s McConnell who has secured deals several times to prevent congressional Republicans, particularly House Republicans, from running the economy totally off the rails. But now he’s in a fight for his political life at home to prove that he is the ultimate Tea Partier. So anything he goes soft on, like avoiding the shutdown of the entire federal government or preventing the first debt default in US history, will get laser-like scrutiny on the right and perhaps lead to his undoing at home. That could mean losing his primary battle with Bevin – which I agree is quite unlikely but not impossible – or getting so beat up during the battle that he’s too damaged to defeat Grimes next Fall.
Whatever the mix of outcomes, McConnell now has to outcrazy the crazies on Capitol Hill to stay alive politically. And that means a much bumpier ride through November of next year.