The Export-Import Bank is in liquidation. A majority of Republican Senators want to keep it that way — the chairman of the Banking Committee included. Every serious and semi-serious GOP presidential candidate agrees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agrees.
So why did McConnell use a heavy parliamentary hand to give President Obama his demand — that a bill restarting the export-subsidy agency be inserted into an unrelated highway bill?
For conservative hill staffers and activists, McConnell's actions are just one more sell-out — one more time the majority leader has stuck it to conservatives and cut a deal with the enemy. McConnell's maneuvers triggered a fire-spitting speech last Friday from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in which he blamed the leader for running a Senate that only listens to "the Washington cartel — the lobbyists on K Street, the big money and big corporations."
Cruz's speech triggered a barrage of spite towards McConnell, and revived complaints that McConnell's main goal is to stick it to conservatives. While this demonology of McConnell satisfies and motivates the Tea Party, it misses a simpler — and thus likely better — way to understand McConnell.