Mitch McConnell-an Evil but Patient Turtle
As I discussed in my previous post, I’m reading Mitch McConnell’s 2016 autobiography, The Long Game.
I wrote this post about it.
After years of faux outrage, Mitch McConnell shows us what a real partisan process and ‘ram through’ looks like
I’m sure many would ask why I’m doing that? I’ve noticed that most people don’t like to read books about/by people they loath.
I despise Mitch McConnell and everything he stands for. I think he’s the worst kind of amoral, sociopathic, GOP hack who has destroyed this country.
Yesterday, I wrote a post about him where I declared that he is a Republican first and an American second as he always puts party first.
“In 2009 as the economy reeled from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Mitch McConnell’s top priority was not beating the recession but beating Obama.”
“Very cynically, McConnell reasoned that even if GOP obstruction slowed down the recovery, Obama as the President and his party would get the blame-as Americans give the President magical powers over the economy while the Constitution gives him powers that are greatly limited.”
“Ultimately, McConnell’s cynical gambit worked and the GOP won big electoral victories in 2010, 2014 and finally 2016.”
“…one could still be forgiven for presuming that in an actual attack on our democratic system of government by a hostile foreign power, McConnell might take off his partisan blinders. However, you’d be wrong. Partisanship stops at the water’s edge? Not for Mitch McConnell they don’t.”
McConnells’ fellow Republican, Steve Schmidt sums it up best:
“Joining MSNBC’s Brian Williams Wednesday night, former John McCain 2008 campaign staffer & MSNBC “GOP strategist” Steve Schmidt said that Republicans who support President Trump have become “faithless to their oaths” and suggested some members of the GOP like Senators Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, and John McCain might be forced to support the Democrats in 2018 on grounds of “national security.”
“Any Republican member of Congress who takes the president, his spokespeople’s assertions that [Comey was fired] because he was unfair to Hillary Clinton is either a fool, or they have so lost sight in this era of tribal politics, of their responsibilities to the country, that they have become faithless to their oaths,” Schmidt said about the president’s memo detailing his reasons for firing FBI director James Comey.
“Schmidt next refers to this tweet from longtime chief of staff to Sen. John McCain, Mark Salter, suggesting that “the security of the United States might now depend on electing a Democratic Congress in 2018.”
Faithless to their oaths and losing sight of the responsibilities to the country in this era of tribal politics.
Schmidit doesn’t mention McConnell by name but it defines him as much as any one man in the country today.
But while I despise McConnell and everything he stands for I also believe:
1. Know your enemy
2. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer
What comes through from McConnell’s self biography is: he plays the long game-which is why this is his title.
He has two real strengths:
1. He is very patient
2. He is very disciplined
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said ‘An institution is but the lengthened shadow of a man’ and so McConnell’s staff takes on his characteristics.
This is an important reason you want to know your enemy-so he won’t be able to blindside you:
Both are true. 1. He's an sociopathic GOP hack 2. If anyone can push through this terrible, awful, bad, very bad bill it's him
— mike sax (@mikesaxny2) June 25, 2017
McConnell is very patient and disciplined. Indeed, he’s sort of like Donald Trump but patient and disciplined.
1. McConnell vs. Obama. McConnell’s who career was one of being patient and waiting for the right time. He already knew what his dream job was in his 20s working as a Senate aide in the 1960s. He wanted to be a Senator. Not he wanted to become a Senator as a jumping off point to run for President as so many Senators in recent times have.
Like Obama did. Like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul wanted to do. As John McCain has repeatedly tried to do.
You have the new breed of Senators like Obama and Rubio who seem to come in from the start looking at the Senate as a weigh station to be President. On the other hand maybe it’s not new as it was also Richard Nixon’s career trajectory.
But not McConnell. He was as he freely admits-and I do appreciate his honesty on this score-always ambitious, but his ambition was always to get the top job in the Senate. At 23 years old his dream job was to be the Republican Senate Majority Leader.
Everything since 1966 has been geared towards that goal. In the 1970s he became a judge-as a weigh station to run for the Senate.
He never bothered with the House. In 1984 he won his first Senate race in Kentucky. He had trailed his Democratic incumbent opponent by 43 points.
Ok-so don’t underestimate Mitch McConnell.
What turned it around for McConnell after being down by 43 points? One big thing he did was-bring in Roger Ailes.
Despite McConnell’s pious outrage over Clinton’s extramarital affair, then, he has a long history of being friends and partners with sexual predators-Ailes, and now Herr Trump.
So McConnell had the biggest comeback in American political history back in 1984. Since then he’s won six more Senate races. And the more races he’s run, the bigger the margin of victory has gotten for the most part.
So he got his dream job in 1984 though not exactly. He was just on the first run of the ladder. His dream job was Senate Majority Leader. But he had to pay his dues.
Almost 20 years later he would get the second job to Senate Leader-he became the GOP’s Senate Whip. The Whip ranks just second to Senate Leader.
Finally in 2007 he got his dream job-GOP Senate Leader. After 23 years. But even then there was a fly in the ointment-the GOP lost the Senate. So he got his dream job but with an asterisk: not Senate Majority Leader but Senate Minority Leader.
Finally, after six years of unprecedented obstruction of Obama, in 2014, he pulled down the ultimate prize-Senate Majority Leader. So after 30 years, he got the ultimate prize. At the age of 72. Then in 2017 he got the cherry on top-Senate Majority Leader along with a Republican President.
It’s striking how different the career trajectories of he and Obama are. In his biography, he has little nice to say about Obama-even after he gives Obama credit for not gloating when McConnell called him to congratulate him on his 2008 victory. Still, McConnell scorns him as ‘The Professor.’
“A lot of people ask me what President Obama is really like. I tell them all the same thing. He’s no different in private than in public. He’s like the kid in your class who exerts a hell of a lot of effort making sure everyone thinks he’s the smartest one in the room. He talks down to people, whether in a meeting among colleagues in the White House or addressing the nation. And he’s simply a very liberal guy who is determined to move the country toward the kind of progressive ideal that Western European societies embraced decades ago. He has a bold progressive agenda, and if he can’t get what he wants through the legislative branch, he’ll work to do so through the bureaucracy. For someone who came up through the Senate, the president’s indifference (or hostility, depending on how you look at it) to Congress is curious. Knowing I could do little to change his perspective on things, my goal has been to stop him when I think he’s pushing ideas that are bad for the country.”
When conservative Republicans call someone ‘professor’ it’s the ultimate form of abuse as in their mind the only elites that are problematic are intellectual elites.
The GOP sure hates people who actually know anything. Uninformed opinion mongering is their calling card.
But no doubt, the trajectory of the two men is stark. McConnell begun his slow, methodical rise in 1966, first made it to the Senate in 1984, became party Whip nearly 20 years later-at age 61; finally Minority Leader at 65, finally Majority Leader at 72, and finally Majority Leader with a Republican President at 75.
Obama won his Senate seat at 42. McConnell had also been 42 with his first Senate win in 1984. There the similarities ceased. Obama’s speech at the DNC convention of 2004 launched him and he never looked back.
His Senate work was fairly on the backburner as by 2006 he was already working on his Presidential run. For Obama, the Senate was always a weigh station. Then after just four years as a Senator, he wins top job in the country-and in many ways the world-Leader of the Free World, at the age of 46.
Then he steps down in 2016 after two very successful terms-certainly McConnell too considered him ‘transformational’ but didn’t like the direction-and with popularity numbers pushing 60% at just 54 years of age.
So the difference in terms of temperament couldn’t be more stark. McConnell’s career has been about waiting his turn-Obama’s was striking while the iron was hot. But their goals were different-McConnell wanted to be Senate Majority Leader, Obama wanted to be POTUS.
2. But the differences between McConnell and Trump are also very stark.
Trump’s career trajectory with even starker. At least Obama went through the motions of first running for state and then national office. Trump simply went straight at the top job in the country.
His career has even less in common with McConnell’s.
And in temperament the gap is wide. McConnell is a patient, disciplined turtle. Trump is the opposite.
Yet here’s the rub. That’s all just surface. At the RNC Convention McConnell and Paul Ryan both insisted that on what matters, they and Trump agree and time has proven him correct.
Trump was able to frame his candidacy as a ‘different type of Republican.’ To this day, Morning Joe is always asserting that Trump ‘Has been a Democrat most of his life’-and, that’s pure hogwash.
Trump was a Republican most of his life. He had one very short lived period in 2004 when he claimed to be a Democrat. That was when he and Roger Stone rented out Al Sharpton to run in the Democratic primary. Sharpton’s main role in that primary was accusing Howard Dean of being a racist.
Roger Stone’s theory was that Dean would be the more dangerous general election opponent.
“A GOP trickster rents Al Sharpton.”
“The pompadoured preacher’s alliance with a right-wing operative may delight conservatives but should disgust his constituents.”
By 2008, Trump was a Republican again-as he was for most of his life.
And when you get beneath the packaging, Trump and McConnell-and Ryan as well-agree on a great deal.
Like Trump got a lot of-deserved-criticism for refusing to allow video and even audio in press conferences. But the Senate GOP tried the same thing the same day.
The rollback of press coverage is not just coming from Trump-Mitch McConnell is doing the same thing.
In other words, one way to conceive of Mitch McConnell is Donald Trump but with patience and discipline.
While Trump suffers an acute form of political Turrets.
Which only makes McConnell, who is marshaling all his skill and resources into passing the worst law since the Corn Laws ,more dangerous.
P.S. So the Gravis poll against Peter King NY2 and it has good news-almost too good to believe.
In my March poll I trailed King by 11 and thought that was very good news. Now Gravis has me up by 10? Still, the moment of truth is next week when Gravis writes up the press release.
I can use any help I can get at this point-volunteers or supporters who live in NY 2. Donations whatever your zip code. These days we can’t just support a local Dem we need a Dem Congress. Which is why I’ve donated few hundred to Jon Ossoff.
Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House-$5 or $10 can do so much.
If you feel that you can’t I, of course, understand-who is rich these days? But please do me one favor: ask yourself privately, mentally, if you really can’t spare $5 dollars. If you can honestly say you can’t, no worries.
We can have a Dem Congress, we must have a Dem Cogress, and we will.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.