Mitch McConnell may not be your favorite kind of guy. He might not be the kind of general who pats his soldiers on the head and tells them that it's all going to be okay. He might be the kind of leader who sends a lot of soldiers over the hill into certain death, but when you study his strategy, he might have a reason for that.
Perhaps there is a war he is trying to win and in order to do so he may have to set up some battles to lose. Drawing the opposition forces into one position so that you can exploit their weaknesses in another position with a serious and deadly chess move is a well known strategy of warfare. Maybe, just maybe, Mitch McConnell has flanked Obama with this new fiscal cliff bill.
As Reid Epstein writing for POLITICO observes:
One word explains Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to toss out 20 years of Republican orthodoxy and sign on to major new tax hikes: leverage.
Senate Republicans didn’t get the big spending cuts they’d hoped for as part of the fiscal cliff deal. They didn’t get the elimination of the estate tax. But deeply aware that Obama could jam them on the tax cuts that expired on New Year’s, they took a deal that’s less about the round they knew they’d lose and more about the next round they believe they can control — which will begin almost as soon as this one is over.McConnell and the Senate Republicans ... strayed from the usual script — all in the hopes of winning the next big battle.
By delaying the sequester cuts for two months, McConnell’s forced them to coincide with the debt ceiling fight. By then, the president won’t have expiring tax cuts or the end-of-the-year media attention to hold over Republicans, and without that — especially after striking a deal and accepting the president’s position on taxes — McConnell will be able to control the coming conversation on spending cuts and overhauling entitlements. Obama got his New Year’s victory, goes the thinking, but now McConnell will be in charge for the rest of 2013.
We'll see how this goes, but if you like to watch politics, this game has just gotten very interesting.