Mitch McConnell is a man frequently described as taciturn and occasionally compared, unfavorably, to a turtle. He has never been known for his smile, but on Wednesday afternoon the Kentucky conservative flashed it, dare we say, liberally.
The soon-to-be Senate majority leader greeted the press corps in Louisville to revel both in his own personal reelection win, which was wider than expected, and in the Republicans' broader accomplishment of winning control of the Senate. Exultant and confident, McConnell offered jokes about his adversaries and showed more deference than combativeness toward the president, even as he spoke only in general terms of how he plans to wield his newfound power.
More than any single policy, McConnell emphasized his desire to restore the Senate as a functioning legislative chamber. There will be longer hours and weeks, more committee work, more tough votes. Things, he said, will get done.
"From an institutional point of view, the Senate needs to be fixed," he said. "The first thing I need to do is to get the Senate back to normal, and that means working more."
Yet the American people didn't vote merely for an oil change in the creaky gears of legislative governance. And on questions of substance, McConnell was far more vague.