McConnell's priorities in view

We've long known U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is all about winning and keeping political power.

If he has to reverse course to do it, the minority floor leader will pull a 180 in the blink of an eye — as he proved anew this week by abandoning his 26-year love affair with budgetary earmarks.

As politically controversial as they are at the moment, earmarks are nothing more than money set aside for specific projects. And in comparison to the annual deficit and federal debt, not even all that much money.

So, by jilting earmarks at the altar of power, McConnell may be costing Kentucky a bit of the $1.50 to $1.80 it has been getting back for each $1 in taxes it sends to Washington.

For the most part, that's not a matter of life and death.

Not so the execution of the war in Iraq.

That remains a matter of life and death for the American men and women serving there.

And it was even more so in September 2006 when, according to former President George W. Bush's memoir, McConnell asked the commander in chief to draw down the number of troops in Iraq to help Republicans survive in that November's elections. (Through a spokesman, McConnell declined to comment on "any advice he may have given the president on improving his political standing.")

This incident, the subject of a story in The Courier-Journal last week, may be the most telling — and stunning — example of the hypocritical and cynical methods McConnell has employed throughout his lengthy political career.

Hypocritical because McConnell publicly was one of the staunchest defenders of the war effort in Iraq at the same time he begged Bush to diminish that effort in an attempt to save some Republicans' political posteriors.

Cynical because saving those GOP posteriors in the way McConnell proposed probably would have made matters of life and death worse for the American troops remaining in Iraq following any reduction in force.

Indeed, cynical may be too nice a word to describe McConnell's proposal.

Despicable sounds like a better fit for someone willing to sacrifice American lives in the pursuit of winning and keeping political power.