Meet Mitch McConnell, Newest Star of the Debt Crisis

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"Who, me?" Photo: Getty Images

Everyone's just smitten with Mitch McConnell right now. As the debt-ceiling talks seem to be coming to an end, the Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky has emerged as a surprising crowd favorite — at least for the time being.

Initially, all eyes were on John Boehner, but things, as they so often do for the Speaker, ended in tears and hurt feelings. McConnell, meanwhile, quietly assumed the leadership position so successfully that he has to make sure he doesn't upset his brother from another chamber. "Tell your henchman to stop saying nice things about me," he told Harry Reid, trying to deflect the spotlight that was once Boehner's.

But it didn't work. "He’s the pivotal player right now,” Senator Olympia Snowe insists. The Hill notes that McConnell's "confident and optimistic" disposition has been a key factor in recent days, while the Washington Post, among others, think this might be the Senator's "moment," even going so far as to say he might be "the last, best hope" for resolving the crisis.

Of course, not everyone's convinced. Said Senator Barbara Mikulski, who's worked with McConnell for more than twenty years,


"The Mitch McConnell I’ve known in the past was so smart and a middle-of-the-roader … someone who was Senate old school, worked, listened, try to solve problems and work it out. So I’m very puzzled with this new McConnell. And to align himself with Boehner is like you want to take navigation lessons from the captain of the Titanic who drove you into an iceberg."

There'll surely be another round of assessments once that iceberg cometh.

Debt Deadline May Provide Another Mitch McConnell Moment [WP]
Mitch McConnell’s Moment: Debt Ceiling Deal Maker or Deal Breaker [Politico]
'Fully Engaged' McConnell Expresses Optimism on Debt Deal [Hill]