Charles Cooke of National Review Online is no fan of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s plan to raise the minimum age for purchase of tobacco products.

Let’s leave aside for a moment that 18-year-olds are not “children” — not “literally,” or otherwise — and focus instead on the fact that, by endorsing federal control in this area, McConnell is endorsing a view of the interstate commerce clause against which conservatives — and, often, the Republican party — have been arguing for years.

By design, the United States Constitution is a “charter of enumerated powers.” This means that, rather than according all power to the federal government, it grants it a specific range of powers and leaves the rest to the states and the people. In theory at least, if the federal government is not explicitly permitted to do something, it is not allowed to do it at all. …

… [A]t least in principle, there exist some meaningful limits upon the federal government’s capacity to rearrange the country from Washington, D.C.

That was supposed to be a Good Thing. At the time, Mitch McConnell certainly thought it was. And yet, just seven years later, McConnell is enthusiastically backing a bill that reinforces the assumption of federal omnipotence — an assumption he’s supposed to be against — and which rides roughshod over the preferences of 36 of the 50 states in the union. This is bizarre.