Two longtime Southern senators cut very different profiles on the national stage recently.
Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., showed real leadership in this time of gridlock and partisanship by giving up a power position in the Senate.
He said he would resign the No. 3 job in the Republican ranks come January, and would not try for the No. 2 spot. Political calculators said Alexander was giving up a ghost that already had abandoned him. He is seen as too moderate by some in what has become a red-meat world.
But Alexander said the move would “liberate” him to work on solving the nation’s pressing problems. …
Contrast Alexander’s walk and talk with what is by now the customary belligerence of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. What else can be expected of a political operator who told The National Journal that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”? If that’s the goal, how can there be any hope of coalition building? In the 11 months since McConnell laid out that strategy, Washington has been at loggerheads.
Not even infrastructure emergencies in his own back yard could move McConnell to be more constructive and less obstructive.
When President Barack Obama visited Ohio to talk crumbling bridges and other infrastructure, which included discussion time with Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, McConnell groused from Washington that it was all political theater on the president’s part. This, from the star player of the brinksmanship games of the past year.
“Don’t patronize us by implying if we pass the second stimulus that bridges will get fixed right away,” McConnell said.
The senator ought to follow his own advice: He should not patronize Kentuckians by implying the nation will be better off if he keeps up his defeat-Obama-at-all-costs strategy. Nobody’s winning at that game.
A better example can be found in Alexander, who said upon relinquishing his leadership role, “I now look forward to spending more of my time working with all senators to achieve results on the serious issues that will determine the standard of living and security for our next generation.”
— The Courier-Journal, Louisville