Mitch McConnell, who can’t even con­trol his clos­est al­lies

By Chris Cil­lizza

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - Have a can­di­date for the worst week in Wash­ing­ton? E-mail Chris Cil­lizza at chris.cil­lizza@wash­post.com.

Mitch McConnell is the mas­ter of Se­nate rules and reg­u­la­tions. He proved that time and again dur­ing Repub­li­cans’ long, dark spell in the mi­nor­ity, us­ing the ar­cana of the Se­nate rule book to stall or stop leg­is­la­tion that he and his side didn’t like.

That’s why McConnell’s mis­han­dling of the Se­nate floor de­bate this past week over the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency’s bulk col­lec­tion of tele­phone data was so baf­fling.

The ma­jor­ity leader knew he had a fight on his hands to re­new some of the con­tro­ver­sial pro­vi­sions of the Pa­triot Act that au­tho­rized the NSA pro­gram: The guy lead­ing the op­po­si­tion hap­pened to be Sen. Rand Paul, his col­league from Ken­tucky and the per­son McConnell has en­dorsed for pres­i­dent in 2016.

When McConnell lost Round 1 of that show­down — the Se­nate ad­journed for a week-long Me­mo­rial Day re­cess with­out vot­ing on ei­ther the House-passed sur­veil­lance bill or its own ver­sion — ev­ery­one as­sumed that he was ab­sorb­ing a tac­ti­cal de­feat to win the big­ger war.

Nope. The Se­nate re­con­vened Sun­day night, a few hours be­fore the pro­vi­sions were set to sun­set, and again Paul, not McConnell, had the up­per hand.

The vet­eran law­maker’s ac­tions “al­lowed a first-term se­na­tor . . . to use the Se­nate’s elab­o­rate rules to de­lay things long enough to cause the en­tire USA Pa­triot Act to lapse for a cou­ple of days, start­ing at mid­night Sun­day,” the As­so­ci­ated Press’s Chuck Babington and Lau­rie Kell­man wrote about McConnell’s flub.

Paul lost on pol­icy but won on pol­i­tics: He scored lots and lots of at­ten­tion for the sus­pen­sion of the pro­vi­sions for 48 hours or so. McConnell wound up tak­ing the deal he could have taken long be­fore — pass­ing the House ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion, which will end the gov­ern­ment’s bulk col­lec­tion of Amer­i­cans’ phone records.

Mitch McConnell, for leg­is­lat­ing your­self into a cor­ner, you had the worst week in Wash­ing­ton. Con­grats, or some­thing.

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