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Mitch McConnell has a tough reelection fight on his hands, so he might want Kentucky voters to see him as another “Great Compromiser.”

mitch mcconnell

Sen. McConnell, you’re no Henry Clay.

Clay was the Bluegrass State’s greatest senator. He compromised out of a sincere desire to head off disunion and civil war.

Senate minority leader McConnell’s compromise with senate majority leader Harry Reid to end the government shutdown was pure politics. McConnell’s GOP was getting clobbered in the polls.

Kentucky’s senior senator is just as eager to deep-six the Affordable Care Act as Sen. Ted Cruz is. He shares Cruz’s antipathy toward President Obama and almost all things Democratic.

The difference between McConnell and Cruz isn’t philosophical. It’s tactical.

McConnell thinks the best way to torpedo the ACA and ruin Obama’s second term is to elect more Republicans to Congress next year and to win the White House in 2016.

Compromise equals surrender to Cruz and the kamikaze caucus. To these teahadists, that makes McConnell another Vidkun Quisling. “When the stakes are highest, Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives,” brayed Matt Bevin in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Bevin is McConnell’s tea party challenger in next May’s Republican primary. He has been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is headed by McConnell’s old sidekick, ex-Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

DeMint’s PAC says Bevin has “Ted Cruz-like courage” while McConnell “has a long record of siding with Democrats and supporting liberal policies,” according to the Courier-Journal. Never mind that the American Conservative Union scored McConnell 100 percent on their issues in 2012. His lifetime average is 90 percent. (Cruz was sworn into office this year and has yet to be rated.)

Anyway, journalist Chuck Thompson says it’s no coincidence that a ton of teahadists like Cruz are from ex-Confederate states. He traces their lineage back to pro-slavery, white supremacists like Sen. John C. Calhoun, like DeMint, a son of the Palmetto State.

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Mark Byrnes, a history professor at Wafford College in Spartanburg, S.C., has compared DeMint to Calhoun, “the Sentinel of the South.” Byrnes said when DeMint was in the senate, he, like Calhoun, was a reactionary who ranted “against the forces of progress” while pretending he was “championing the Constitution.”

Reactionaries like Cruz are pushing “the same old obstructionist strategy that’s been pursued by traitorous Southerners in government since long before Robert E. Lee’s doomed charge at Gettysburg,” Thompson recently suggested in Salon.

Thompson, who grew up in Alaska, reloaded and cut loose again: “It’s part of the same soiled fabric that stretches from John C. Calhoun and South Carolina’s 1832 Ordinance of Nullification—an argument that essentially said that if a state didn’t like a federal law it could simply ignore it—all the way to the Newt Gingrich-led government shutdown and de facto second paralysis brought about by his presidential impeachment campaign of the 1990s. With stops along the way to roll back Reconstruction, stop black kids from entering white schools, dismember the Voting Rights Act, etc., etc.”

Confessed Thompson: “Yes, I know Michele Bachmann is from Minnesota and Steve King is from Iowa, [In Calhoun’s day they were “Doughfaces,” meaning pro-slavery, pro-Southern Yankees] but all this proves is that in the 150 or so years since the Civil War, the vituperative Confederate agenda of anti-Americanism has managed to spread its irresistible redneck poison into benighted pockets across the country. Kind of like Waffle House.”

Thompson argued that “to deny that the current attack on the federal government isn’t part of the hidebound Confederate agenda is to ignore the people who have engineered it and whose sedition will be rewarded with reelection.”

Thompson authored Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, a devilishly funny book in which he argues that we ought to let the ex-Confederate states depart for good this time. I say “we” because Kentucky – where I have lived all of my life – stayed under the Stars and Stripes and spurned the Stars and Bars in 1861-1865.

Thompson is on the money where he points out that Calhoun and the “nullies” are the spiritual forbears of Cruz and the tea party white folks.

But, hey, I’m a Waffle House fan – hold the hash browns and bring on the grits. And let Dixie depart in peace this time? No way. I’m with Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and the close to 100,000 Kentuckians who donned Yankee blue to keep our nation whole. For me, too, it’s “The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah! /Down with the traitors, up with the stars.”

Anyway, if Cruz and the latter-day Johnny Rebs try to hold the ACA hostage to another shutdown, you can count on McConnell to again play the cardboard statesman and try to head them off because the mid-term congressional elections – including his – will be looming closer still.

Berry Craig

Berry Craig

Tuesday, 22 October 2013