By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

Kentucky’s United States Senator Mitch McConnell, standing on the biggest possible opportunity of his lifetime to become a world leader, blew it all in one nasty partisan blast…while helping to make his nation a diplomatic laughingstock one more time.

Whatever may have been the quality or lack thereof in the agreement between President Obama and the Chinese leader with respect to harmful emission, all McConnell needed to do was to suggest the need for some high level reviews between the newly elected Republican leadership and the President.

But McConnell could not resist the egocentrist need  to satisfy the commitment of the Republican leadership the morning after the their party assumed control of the House of Representatives a couple of years ago. The mission then clearly enunciated..not to provide fresher leadership to the nation but  simply to knock off the sitting President of the United States and to block anything the Democrats might advance.

 In advance of the recent elections, I had written a well received piece describing what I called the “barren political desert” and the reality Americans really trust neither major political party nor any candidates they might advance. I also  noted the reality the election rules made it clear winners would be announced, despite the unfortunate if not perilous reality that Americans seemingly have nowhere  to turn  for trustworthy leadership with any sense of confidence.

 Several years ago, I also warned, when Republicans assumed power in the House of Representatives, they had the  opportunity to speak to the needs of the people rather than to boast of their victory, to speak with pride of the chance to provide new leadership.

 Beyond calculation, at that point of victory, the party leadership enunciated only two missions:  to knock off President Obama and to stand in the way of anything the Democrats might advance, no matter what it might be.     

Those missions were accomplished without contributing to the welfare and safety of American citizens.  Now the victors, again instead of standing tall as leaders with the chance and the right to speak to leadership goals continued to attack anything and everything.           

I cannot address all  detail of what may have been worked out with the Chinese leadership, but, surely, the leader of the victorious American political party could have suggested at least the logic of the need for climate progress while asserting the necessity to review the details.  Instead, he demonstrated what will be his and his party’s mission right through the  conclusion of the current administration:  continue the commitment of  destruction enunciated just a couple of years ago.          

Just as surely  his words blasted immediately in public could only sabotage an important step both to improve the air even Senator McConnell breathes but the urgent need to advance relationships with China, a nation moving rapidly economically, militarily and in other ways.       

Senator McConnell might have taken a lesson from the masterful concession speech of the late Thomas Dewey following his surprise defeat by Harry Truman…or even that of Mitt Romney when he went down to defeat by Barack Obama.  While both referred to policies with which they   had disagreed, the tone of both  was a commitment to the good of the nation.

Significantly, it was the same Senator and  his colleagues who rightly chastised the then Senator Obama who had inappropriately traveled to meet with the commanders of American forces in Iraq, where the Illinois Senator wanted to outline what he would do if elected.  Rapidly and right on target, the Republican leadership told Mr. Obama:  “We only have one president at a time.”    

 If the Senator from Kentucky is committed to his new leadership responsibility, he might recall those words to then Senator Obama, and speak to the needs of the nation instead of his expressed and unfortunate commitment to undermine the only president we have at the moment in the eyes of any nation with whom we might negotiate.          

The question that the newly empowered Republican majority must confront:  do they care more about political assault on a sitting president or finding ways to renew the standing of the United States in the world?

 How those questions are answered will not only tell the world about our sense of unity as a nation but whether we are no more than a couple of warring political parties whose concern for our international AND national standing are of only secondary concerns and that all we have to offer are weapons and money.    

 Sadly, the new United States Senate  Majority Leader has failed utterly to present himself as much more than a partisan performer…and that is not only unfortunate but potentially perilous as well.

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Honick is president of GMA International Ltd with offices on Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.