Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell used to be a feared parliamentary knife-fighter who regularly gutted the puny likes of Chuck Schumer, but lately, the blood on the Senate floor is all his. He handed Biden a gun control win by letting 15 Republicans vote for it. Then he allowed the CHIPS Act to pass but got played when Schumer and Joe Manchin resurrected a reconciliation bill. Political power is about the present, not the past, and right now, Mitch looks weak and ineffective. The GOP needs to ask itself if keeping the Murder Turtle around is worth it.
Here are some facts. The base despises McConnell, almost as much as McConnell despises the base. After all, the base is all passion and ideology and McConnell does not cotton to that nonsense. He is all about winning, and he plays the long game. Uppity voters, with their own ideas about what is important, get in the way. Trump – well, Trump was everything McConnell detests. Emotion. Improvisation. Populism. And moreover, Trump had no respect for either the institutions (including the Senate) or for the folks who had fought their way to the top of them (like Mitch himself). No one was happier to see Trump go than McConnell, and that includes the soon-to-be-unemployed Liz Cheney.
The base cannot stand McConnell because he is perceived as the essence of the establishment. He likes big donors and lobbyists and clearly prefers the trappings of power to mingling with the proles. He did the “Oh well I never” act constantly over Trump, heedless of the fact that Trump voters (accurately) took any attack on Trump as an attack on themselves. He hates culture fights, which the base loves, and wants to return to his comfort zone of corporate tax cuts, wars, and transactional business as usual. He failed to fight for election integrity and his stubbornness helped lose the Georgia seats. He sputtered on and on about the minor fracas that was January 6th, and only his iron discipline (because he knew he would get destroyed) kept him from voting for impeachment.
That he longs for a more superficially genteel GOP is obvious, but he does differ from the usual establishment hacks in one way – he is (or was) brutal to his opponents. He loved to place his Gucci loafer on their windpipe and press. Here's the truth – at his best, there has never been a Senate leader more cunning and effective than Mitch McConnell. As frustrating as he is – and boy, is he frustrating – McConnell got it done.
No one else could have had the granite stones necessary to withstand the enormous pressure to let Obama put the disgraceful Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court. He did not budge. He saved the Constitution. The Dobbs case, the Bruen case, the EPA case – these huge victories are only because Mitch McConnell refused to back down. He deserves credit for that.
And he deserves credit for keeping a GOP coalition together in a split Senate. There is no one else who could pull together a coalition that saw Susan Collins and Miracle Whip Mitt vote again and again with Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to stop Biden. He deserves credit for that too.
But what has he done for us lately? Because this is politics, and that's the only question that matters.
The awful gun “compromise,” which he handed over to his would-be successor John Fredo Cornyn to handle, was a disaster. The old McConnell would have never participated in that fiasco. No Republican was elected to the Senate to vote for gun control, not one. The bill itself was relatively milquetoast compared to the confiscation agenda the Democrats really wanted, but that does not matter. Biden, who was losing, losing, losing, got a big win. It did not matter that it was barely a win; now, every pinko journalist shilling for President Crusty is touting his “gun control achievement.”
So, we got a bill that does nothing to solve the real problem, gives the enemy a victory, and infuriates an election-year GOP base that is tired of establishment betrayal. Great thinking, Mitch. Stellar.
Then came the Build Back better debacle. McConnell was, correctly, holding the CHIPS Act hostage to keep the Democrats from breaking the budget with a Manchin-approved reconciliation package of tax hikes, Obamacare giveaways, and climate hoax boondoggles. He let the CHIPS Act pass by letting Republicans vote for it, and a few hours later, there was a reconciliation deal. He looked like a fool. Maybe Schumer lied to him. Maybe he did not see it coming. But it came and ran the Republicans over like a freight train. Again Mitch, stellar.
Then there is the PACT Act, a veterans bill that includes a sneaky $400 billion giveaway hidden in the fine print. Mitch has allowed the hack Dems to play it as “Republicans hate veterans!” They would not have tried that in the past without incurring his wrath. It's like the Democrats don't fear him anymore, and what's the use of a Mitch McConnell no one is afraid of?
Now the election is coming up and there are lots of GOP candidates who are promising not to support McConnell if Mitch doesn't blow another election and we take back the Senate. He plays favorites in the primaries, and a number of guys who owe him nothing – who will beat his selected candidates – will be coming to DC. That's not good. Well, it's not good for Mitch.
No one actually likes Mitch McConnell, but once Mitch was useful and feared and that was more than enough. So, can he get back to the deadly, ruthless effectiveness that more than made up for his myriad failings and distinct lack of basedness? He better if he wants to regain and keep his job from being snatched away by the Cornyns, Thunes, Scotts, and others who are seeing him lying upside down on his shell, little legs flailing, and who are thinking, “Maybe I could do better.” Now there's blood in the water. Mitch is slipping, and at age 97 or whatever, the tortoise is surrounded by hares.
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