At a closed door meeting, things got ugly among Senate Republicans by expressing their displeasure with the filibuster deal — at at one point literally calling bulls**t on Mitch McConnell.
The Hill reported, “A meeting of Senate Republicans on Wednesday grew tense as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told his members he could have gotten a better deal on nominations than the one negotiated by rank-and-file Republicans. McConnell’s tone, according to multiple sources, implied that he had been kept in the dark about the talks between some in his own ranks and Democrats. However, those same Republicans say they kept McConnell updated throughout their negotiating process. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., got so frustrated with McConnell’s presentation of events, that he called “bullshit” loud enough for the room to hear, nearly a half-dozen sources said. The heated exchange underscored the “buyer’s remorse” among some Republicans, especially leaders, one senior Republican said on background.”
There is no way that Mitch McConnell could have gotten a better deal. McConnell was grovelling and begging Harry Reid the day before the meeting to not use the nuclear option. McConnell had no bargaining position, and wasn’t even a direct party in the current talks. He tried to go behind Reid’s back to Joe Biden, but was shot down by the White House. Obama and Biden stood by Reid, which meant that McConnell had nowhere to go to get a deal.
McConnell had been outplayed by Reid, and was totally screwed. I suspect that what McConnell was trying to do was save his credibility with the far right of his caucus, and take no responsibility for the deal with Republican voters back home in Kentucky. McConnell is the least popular senator in the country, and Nate Silver sees a very close race for McConnell’s seat in 2014.
The same infighting that has torn apart House Republicans appears to be rising up in the Senate. What the filibuster deal exposed was that the same rift that plagues the entire Republican Party is very alive and well in the Senate. If Republicans rebel against McConnell, he could find himself in the same position as John Boehner. McConnell could easily become a leader without a following. When members of his own caucus start calling bulls**t, that’s a sign of a leader who is losing support among his followers.
If McConnell looks like he is going to lose his reelection campaign, Senate Republicans will push him aside and start the process of jockeying for his job as leader. Mitch McConnell is a weak candidate who is teetering on the edge, and he could take the entire Senate Republican caucus down with him.