Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on The Laura Ingraham Show and ripped into CNN contributor, radio talk show host, and RedState.com editor Erick Erickson. Erickson has been a consistent critic of McConnell’s; he recently stated in Roll Call that McConnell is “an appropriator before he’s a Republican.” McConnell responded, “That’s entirely inaccurate. I don’t even know who Erick Erickson is, but he has no audience as far as I’m concerned.”
This was essentially an attack not just on Erickson, but on the new media as a whole. It suggests that those on the internet have no credibility, and that they can be talked down to by their betters in the political bigwig world. And it's sheer nonsense, which is why McConnell found himself responding to Erickson in the first place.
Erickson does have an audience. Red State has become one of the go-to sites on the right side of the internet, building from nothing to one of the most influential outlets for conservative politics. It’s regularly read by Rush Limbaugh, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. When Rick Perry decided to run for president, the first outlet to report it was Red State.
Erickson has vehemently opposed Republicans he sees as sell-outs of conservatism. And that includes McConnell, whom he regularly calls to account. One of his most-cited posts is a litany of McConnell’s “obstruction record on big ticket items.”
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News today, Erickson responded to McConnell’s charges: “Most people weren’t willing to go on the record [with Roll Call] because he’s so vindictive. I used to consider the guy a champion for conservatism, but the more I covered him, the more I realized he was always cutting the legs out from under conservatism.
“In 2005 and 2006, the spending issues were the first ones that tipped me off that he wasn’t the real deal,” Erickson continued. “You had Jim DeMint and others wanting to rein in earmarks, and they were cutting his legs out from under him. Then you get into 2006, and Reid and McConnell are buddy-buddy. In the press, you find out they’ve made back room deals, and [Sen. Tom] Coburn’s and DeMint’s amendments won’t get to the floor, but the bridge to nowhere will get voted on.
“McConnell was the first guy to come up with this brilliant idea of, "we will allow the debt ceiling to rise unless we vote against it -- and then the president will veto our vote and it will go up anyway." He wanted a symbolic vote against raise-the-debt ceiling while allowing it to be raised.
Erickson hates blandness in conservative candidates – and he especially hates candidates who embrace political moderation in order to forward their own personal political agenda. “John Thune today said blandness is a winning strategy,” said Erickson. “That’s Mitch McConnell talking right there. In February, in the Senate Republican Conference, McConnell said he wouldn’t allow DeMint’s amendment to come to the floor for a full vote on Obamacare, because it would disrupt their relationship with Harry Reid …. Unless you toe Mitch McConnell’s line, you’re not on his team. But his team keeps losing.”
Erickson is quite relevant – and, to the dismay of folks like McConnell, he’s becoming more relevant all the time. The day of the silent conservatives is over.