Moderated Mitch on finance reform

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was Mr. In Your Face in his opposition to pending legislation that would regulate the financial industry.

This week, though, McConnell donned rose-colored glasses and blew kisses to the gallery as he gave the 41 Senate Republicans credit for transforming the atmosphere of the debate with the solidarity they displayed in a letter they all signed last week.

Now, it seems, McConnell is optimistic about getting financial regulation done.

But what really changed? Not much of substance.

Referring to McConnell's "victory lap," Politico.com quoted Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Chris Dodd as saying, "It's like the rooster taking credit for the morning. The idea that these talks have just started somehow, where has (McConnell) been?"

In short, the two sides were negotiating the details of the regulatory bill last week, they're still negotiating this week and life goes on.

Where McConnell has been is another matter.

He has been getting called out from multiple quarters for cynically applying his pugnacious politics of NO! to financial regulation while he and Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, were reaching out to Wall Street for help in electing more Republicans this fall. He has also been getting called out for playing fast and loose with the truth in discussing provisions of the legislation.

Apparently, the heat from the multiple spotlights shining on him grew a bit warm for McConnell. And understandably so.

Americans left, right and center disagree about many things, sometimes fiercely so.

But after experiencing the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, Americans left, right and center — at least those who spend more time on Main Street than on Wall Street or in Congress — seem to generally agree on one thing:

Never again should taxpayers be asked to pull Wall Street money-grubbers out of a quagmire created by their own greedy scams. And the best way to avoid that is to pass some serious regulatory reform that forces the money-grubbers to control their more larcenous instincts.

McConnell apparently realized during the course of the last week that opposing regulation too stridently might not be all that wise, considering the mood of the country. So, he did what any savvy opportunistic politician does when he finds himself occupying an untenable position.

He gave a victory speech, reached for those rose-colored glasses and reintroduced himself to the world as the kinder, gentler Mitch McConnell.

Mind you, he's probably still carrying Wall Street's water. And he's still lobbing grenades into the process every chance he gets. But he's now doing it with the smile of a hale fellow well met.