Why the Grim Reaper thing works for Mitch McConnell

Political Theater Podcast, Episode 76

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has his own way of doing things, to the consternation of his political foes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mitch McConnell is an extraordinarily successful politician, despite lacking what might be described as traditional attributes of a public official.

The Senate majority leader pursues his policy goals with metronomic unflashiness. He is almost proudly uncharismatic, brandishing his fuddy-duddyism as a boy scout might display a merit badge.

He is, relatively speaking, unpopular in his home state of Kentucky. And he boasts of being “the Grim Reaper” when it comes to snuffing out legislation he does not like, which is virtually everything that comes his way from the Democratic House.

So what accounts for his success?

How does he keep winning elections in Kentucky, and why do his Republican colleagues keep making him their leader in the Senate?

The answer is simpler than you may think. “The place I feel most at ease is the Senate, an institution that rewards patience and confounds those who lack it,” McConnell writes in his 2016 memoir, “The Long Game.”

Here to discuss it is CQ Roll Call’s senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski.

Show notes:


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