Herald-Leader Editorial

Sorting through shutdown rubble

McConnell leadership valuable

October 18, 2013 

Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, is Kentucky's senior senator.

U.S. SENATE PHOTO/JEFF MCEVOY

We're not willing to sign on to a "Mitch-as-savior" narrative about the end to the government shutdown.

But Kentucky's senior senator, Mitch McConnell, does deserve credit for what he does best — managing in the real, messy world of democratic government.

The Senate minority leader, who negotiated a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been in Washington for decades. It's safe to say he didn't stay that long because he wants to take down our government.

We often disagree with McConnell about the constituencies he chooses to serve.

However, virtually no one would be served by pushing brinkmanship to the point of defaulting on public debt, shutting down services taxpayers have paid for and generally dissing our federal government.

McConnell, ever the realist, finally stepped up to use his political skills and leadership power to keep that from happening.

The Kentucky congressional delegation split on pragmatism, not party, lines. McConnell helped engineer and voted for the compromise, which allows a bipartisan committee to work on thorny budget issues.

Joining him were Republican representatives Hal Rogers, Brett Guthrie and Ed Whitfield, and Democrat John Yarmuth.

Voting against were the idealogue Republicans, Reps. Andy Barr and Thomas Massie and Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul's vote was somewhat of a surprise because he had insisted until then that he was unenthusiastic about the shutdown and did not want the government to default on its debts.

But in pursuit of his expected goal of a 2016 presidential bid, Paul often has sought to have it both ways: as someone wanting clout within the power structure and as rabblerouser who would bring government down.

It remains to be seen if such straddling serves his Kentucky constituents.

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