Sen. McConnell Doubles Down On "One-Term President"

November 01, 2010 3:10 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Sen. Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) raised some eyebrows recently when he said that the "single most important thing" for Republicans in the next Congress will be to make sure President Obama "is a one-term president." Today, McConnell doubled down on his blunt assessment of Republican priorities, telling Politico that objections to his remarks are "laughable."

"I know the president's goal is to get a second term. It's not surprising that Republicans would want him to not get reelected," McConnell said in an interview with POLITICO.

Democrats have been criticizing McConnell for telling the National Journal last week that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Democrats took that to mean that McConnell and the GOP have no intention of effectively governing.

But McConnell said in a phone interview Monday that the attacks are "kind of laughable" and said Democrats are only focusing on him because "they don't have much to talk about."

First of all, nobody is offended that Republicans don't want Obama to get reelected. The issue, as NBC's Matt Lauer noted earlier today, is what McConnell didn't say. Instead of jobs, health care, energy, immigration, or national security, McConnell said "the single most important thing we want to achieve" is defeating the president. 

What's more, McConnell's claim that "the president's goal is to get a second term" is disingenuous. It's safe to assume Obama would like to win in 2012, but he has unequivocally stated that he is more concerned with solving problems than his own political future. "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," Obama said last January:

[T]he one thing I'm clear about is that I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president. And I — and I believe that.

You know, there's a tendency in Washington to think that our job description of elected officials is to get re-elected. That's not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people. And, you know, that's not just the view of elected officials themselves. That's also the filter through which the media reads things.

Through the first two years of his term, President Obama has followed through on that philosophy. While McConnell was standing up for corrupt insurance companies and big banks on Wall Street, Obama knowingly sacrificed political capital and campaign donations for his party to pass sweeping health care and financial reform packages.