Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican and the Senate Minority Leader, stepped up to the plate and offered his grim assessment of the state of the Republican Party. Per a CNN report, McConnell said:
"We're all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us," the Kansas Republican said on the second day of the four-day gathering. (snip) And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one."
McConnell's assessment has some basis in reality. In the wake of the 2008 elections, the New York Times reported that indeed virtually all of America, save for the Ozarks, Appalachia, Texas, and a few other isolated areas, has been trending toward the Democrats. Hence, the Republicans are becoming a regional party.
McConnell said that the Republicans have an image problem: "Ask most people what Republicans think about immigrants, and they'll say we fear them. Ask most people what we think about the environment, and they'll say we don't care about it. Ask most people what we think about the family, and they'll tell you we don't — until about a month before Election Day."
Those are some pretty candid statements coming from the leader of a party that has a very real inability to perform any sort of critical self-analysis. But are conservatives in any mood to listen? Earlier this week, Georgia Republican Representative Phil Gingrey made the mistake of suggesting in an interview with Politico that the Right-wing talk radio echo chamber might be good at riling the base, but that it doesn't offer much in the way of constructive dialogue, much less leadership. Gingrey had defended McConnell and fellow Republican John Boehner after Rush Limbaugh made some unflattering comments about those men on his radio talk show. But after word got out that Gingrey wasn't properly toeing the Republican line (which is now, apparently, whatever Rush wants it to be), his in-box filled with outraged conservatives and Gingrey went on Rush's radio talk show in short order to apologize profusely for having suggested that there might be problems lurking on the Right.
Let's see if McConnell stands his ground during the conservative backlash he will almost assuredly endure. Or will he cave in like his friend Rep. Gingrey?