Mr. Transactional, Mitch McConnell

Ideas and Issues

January 15, 2021

Little Rock      To follow politics in Washington these days, we don’t need a telescope, we need a Geiger counter. Some of the mischief is crystal clear, but way too much of it is deep under cover. The wannabes are easy to follow, like the falling stars of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley who tried to grab a comet by the tail, then crashed and burned. Or, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton who is trying to thread the middle ground on the far right by on one hand not following Cruz and Hawley down the black hole on the Trump election fantasy, but trying to argue the Constitution would not allow an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office, no matter what all the constitutional scholars say. But, then there’s this minute’s Republican Majority Leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, who is about to be the Minority Leader, who is in another universe entirely.

Suddenly, McConnell, the Darth Vader of the Senate for the last dozen years, is sending signals from an alien planet.  Supposedly, he saluted the House of Representatives actions in passing articles of impeachment for Trump with whom he has been codependent for the last four years. Reportedly, he is even hinting that he might vote for impeachment in the Senate, where seventeen Republicans would be needed to convict, though he is open to hearing the “evidence” in the trial. Certainly, his wife, the Transportation Secretary under Trump and the former Labor Secretary under Bush, would never have resigned in the wake of the Trump Days of Rage at the Capitol without the advice and consent of McConnell.  Supposedly, she did so out of principle, but power, not principle is the household word for the McConnell’s.

I have to admit that when McConnell is operating on this wavelength, I’m deeply suspicious. I thought he might be laying a trap for the incoming president. Delay the impeachment trial until after the inaugural, and then slow walk the process to prevent Biden from getting appointments approved and any of his 100-day agenda moving and done. Traditionally, an impeachment trial has meant six-day workweeks for the Senators where the trial is the only business until they get it done. The news now is that the next majority leader, New York’s Schumer and McConnell are negotiating split shifts, where half the day would be the impeachment proceedings and half the day would be confirmations, stimulus, and other Biden-Harris proposals.

I’m still not feeling any love here, but since the leader does set the calendar, I guess that’s possible, but what’s McConnell’s real agenda. For Trump, he’s been Mr. Transactional and willing to swallow almost anything in order to get his judges and other business done, the devil take the hindmost. Yes, he’s just been re-elected for another six years, so he probably believes he can outlive and outlast any Trump-base fever sweat in what is likely his last term anyway, but that doesn’t explain his sudden shift from pure politics to principle. Is he hoping to block Trump from any future election and clean his stench out of the party? Maybe this populist surge is making him feel there’s no future for his ilk without purging Trump. He might be feeling a bit of “I told you so,” after begging the Republican caucus to not support challenges to the election then seeing six or eight of his buddies go rogue and end up hosting a riot. Who knows?

The only way I can believe anything McConnell is saying now is by believing that he thinks this is what it takes to get in position in 2022 to have his team take back the Senate and return him to the position of power and policy and appointments gatekeeper as majority leader again for the last four years of his term. That’s more like McConnell. Not principles, but more politics and power. Something is up, so we need to keep our eyes on him every minute.  He’s not to be trusted.