Jennifer Senior writes at the New York Times, Good Riddance, Leader McConnell: The judgment of history will be damning:
So tell me, Mitch, in these, your final hours as Senate majority leader: Were the judges and the tax cuts worth it?
Were they worth the sacking of the Capitol? The annexation of the Republican Party by the paranoiacs and the delusional? The degradation, possibly irremediable, of democracy itself?
Those close to him say that Mitch McConnell has his eye on his legacy, now more than ever. But I wonder whether he already understands, in some back bay of his brain where the gears haven’t been ground to nubs, that history will not treat him well.
Sorry, Mitch, history has already judged your “legacy.” I have oft repeated in several postings over the years, including this one, The ‘Enemy of The People,’ Mitch McConnell, is the real radical (snippet):
As Dana Milbank wrote, Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America:
By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.
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As Charles Pierce says, There Is No More Loathsome Creature Walking Our Political Landscape Than Mitch McConnell:
He doesn’t have the essential patriotism god gave a snail. He pledges allegiance to his donors, and they get what they want. He’s selling out his country, and he’s doing it in real-time and out in the open. This is worse than McCarthy or McCarran ever were. Mitch McConnell is the the thief of the nation’s soul.
As historian Christopher Browning has written, “If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell.” The Suffocation of Democracy.
Jennifer Senior continues:
McConnell may think that the speech he gave on the Senate floor on Jan. 6, objecting to the election deniers, will spare him history’s judgment. It will not. It did not make him a hero. It simply made him a responsible citizen.
If McConnell ultimately votes to convict Donald Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial — he has suggested he’s open to the idea — that won’t make him a hero, either. He will simply have done the right thing and likely not for the right reasons: As Alec MacGillis makes plain in his excellent book “The Cynic,” Mitch McConnell never does anything unless it serves the interests of Mitch McConnell.
Which is why McConnell made his unholy alliance with Donald Trump in the first place. By his own admission, McConnell plays “the long game” (it’s the name of his memoir, in fact). He’s methodical in his scheming, awaiting his spoils with the patience of a cat. So if hitching his wagon to a sub-literate mob boss with a fondness for white supremacists and a penchant for conspiracy theories and a sociopath’s smirking disregard for the truth meant getting those tax cuts and those conservative judges … hey, that’s the cost of doing business, right?
Well. Live by the mob, die by the mob. That’s what happened on Jan. 6.
What “long game” McConnell had failed to foresee: The problem was coming from inside the House. And the Senate. A quarter of his caucus helped fuel that siege by cynically disputing the results of a fair election. All that staring into the distance came at the expense of McConnell’s peripheral vision. He was now outflanked on his right.
Yet it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Anyone who’s spent any time watching Republican congressional politics over the last quarter century has witnessed this phenomenon time and time again: A Republican leader, once hailed as a fire-spewing Komodo dragon, suddenly finds himself under attack from even more blistering fire-breathers within his ranks.
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For years now, the Republican Party has been radicalizing at a furious rate, moving rightward at a far faster clip than the Democrats have moved to the left. Political scientists even have a term for it: “asymmetrical polarization.” How we got to this frightening pass is complicated, but chief among the reasons is that the G.O.P. has been on a decades-long campaign to delegitimize government. Run against it long enough, and eventually you have a party that wants to burn the system to the ground.
McConnell, now on his seventh term, has been cynical and power-hungry enough to keep up with his party’s rightward lurch at every step.
When Republicans embraced the Southern Strategy, deciding that racial resentment — if not hatred — would power their rocket to the majority? No problem. His dalliance with the civil rights movement was only a youthful fling.
When the Republicans made their pact with social conservatives and evangelicals, realizing that pro-business policies couldn’t capture a majority’s imagination? No problem. He abandoned his support for abortion. (Yes, McConnell was once pro-choice.)
When anti-tax sentiment overtook the party’s desire to contain the deficit? No problem. He loved tax cuts, loved business, loved the rich (read Jane Mayer’s knockout McConnell profile from April for details about all the thumbs he has in moneyed pies).
When preserving power prerogatives overtook his party’s concerns about the former Soviet Union? No problem. McConnell refused to hear out warnings about Russian interference until weeks before the 2016 election (at which point he buried them), and he refused to consider bipartisan legislation that would attempt to curb foreign meddling until he earned himself the moniker “Moscow Mitch.”
When his party went from free trade to nativist populism, powered by xenophobia and racist resentment? Not a problem. He’d side with the populists, including their dangerous Dear Leader, until his workplace was overrun, five people were dead and the Constitution itself was among the critically injured.
It was only a matter of time before members of McConnell’s own caucus began to align themselves with — and inflame — the insurrectionist hordes. They were just doing what McConnell has done his whole political career: lunging at opportunities to serve their own political ends.
“They saw all of this behavior in McConnell,” the political scientist Norman J. Ornstein told me. “The ends-justify-the-means philosophy, the focus on winning over governing, the willingness to blow up every norm in the Senate and the political process.”
The mercenary focus on winning makes McConnell similar to someone else in his party, too: Donald J. Trump.
And power is really all the old-school G.O.P. has to cling to. Its philosophy of sharply limited government and free enterprise has never had enough appeal to win over a true majority. Staying in power required voter suppression, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, oceans of money.
McConnell has worked indefatigably to defend them all — and to make sure the Democratic agenda never succeeds. His dirtiest maneuver was to let a Supreme Court seat sit empty for a year, rather than allow Barack Obama to fill it. But his obstructionist warfare stretches back much further than that. While minority leader, he either threatened or made use of the filibuster at every turn; once he got control of the chamber, he still brought very little legislation to the floor.
And we wonder why voters in 2016 turned to a know-nothing vulgarian who promised to blow the place up.
McConnell is not an enabler. He’s a ringleader, as responsible for the politics of destruction — which has morphed from a metaphorical to a literal description in the last two weeks — as Trump himself.
If McConnell is truly concerned with how history views him, he should spend his waning Senate years actually doing things. Drumming up support to convict a dangerous former president. Allowing popular legislation to come to the floor regardless of which party initiated it or holds the reins. Imagining a world whose borders stretch beyond his brutish, small-minded self.
Being a leader, just once.
Sorry, Jennifer. Mitch McConnell is the same cynical, self-serving, power-hungry opportunist you describe. He is not yet done being “the grim reaper of democracy.” He plans to sabotage his “friend” Joe Biden the same way he sabotaged the presidency of Barack Obama. Democrats must resist his malignant machinations. Have we not learned not to appease McConnell from the painful experience of the Obama years? It’s time to render Mitch McConnell “Mr. Irrelevant.”
Joan McCarter at Daily Kos describes McConnell’s latest evil GOP bastard machinations. Democrats aren’t playing McConnell’s game on filibuster:
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has rebuffed Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist demand that the Democrats commit to keeping the filibuster on legislation. Schumer has precedent on his side; the organizing resolution from the last time the Senate was divided 50-50 didn’t delve into floor procedure on the filibuster. Schumer also has his Democratic conference behind him.
That support ranges from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said, “McConnell was fine with getting rid of the filibuster to a United States Supreme Court nominee for a lifetime appointment but he’s not ok getting rid of the filibuster for unemployment relief for families that are out of work because of COVID-19,” to Sen. Jon Tester from Montana, who said, “Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader. We can get shit done around here and we ought to be focused on getting stuff done. […] If we don’t, the inmates are going to be running this ship” [a mixed metaphor; he means “the asylum.”] Sen. Dick Durbin, Schumer’s deputy, adds: “Unfortunately we’re not going to give him what he wishes. If you did that then there would be just unbridled use of it.” That’s all extremely true, and having Democrats say it out loud and reporters repeating it is enough to make you think that maybe we really are in a new year.
It seems like “getting shit done” is the takeaway for Democrats. Giving in to McConnell and taking away the potentially necessary tool to get that shit done “would be exactly the wrong way to begin,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “We need to have the kind of position of strength that will enable us to get stuff done.” But that still leaves the Senate at an impasse in moving forward with organizing. For example, the three brand new Democratic senators sworn in Wednesday can’t be assigned to committees until there’s an organizing resolution in place. Not having it is slowing down committee hearings conducting the process of approving Biden’s Cabinet.
McConnell doesn’t want Biden to succeed. He doesn’t want Democrats to get shit done because he’s looking ahead—as always—to the next election and regaining his majority. To that end, he’s preventing Biden from forming his government. He’s using the same tool white supremacist senators used generations ago to first fight abolition and then civil rights legislation – the filibuster. How little things change.
If it comes down to it, Democrats can advance the cause of getting rid of the filibuster right now, on this organizing resolution McConnell has been delaying. If it comes to it, they can use what’s been dubbed the Reid Precedent, when then Majority Leader Harry Reid used a simple majority to overturn a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian to end the filibuster on President Barack Obama’s lower court nominees. They could, if McConnell forces them to, organize with a simple majority vote, with Vice President Harris’ help.
POLITICO adds, Democrats rebuff McConnell’s filibuster demands:
Senate Democrats are signaling they will reject an effort by Mitch McConnell to protect the legislative filibuster as part of a deal to run a 50-50 Senate, saying they have little interest in bowing to his demands just hours into their new Senate majority.
McConnell has publicly and privately pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to work to keep the 60-vote threshold on most legislation as part of their power-sharing agreement. Democrats have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they’re about to govern.
Many Democrats argue that having the threat of targeting the filibuster will be key to forcing compromise with reluctant Republicans. They also believe it would show weakness to accede to McConnell’s demand as he’s relegated to minority leader.
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Four years ago, as McConnell himself came under pressure from former President Donald Trump to gut the filibuster, 61 senators signed a letter to Senate leaders emphasizing the importance of protecting the supermajority requirement. And even now Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia say they want to keep the filibuster, emphasizing that it drives compromise.
Show me your work: what evidence do you have since 2009 to support this belief?
For that reason, the filibuster appears safe for the immediate future regardless of what happens in the coming days. If Democrats were to change it, it would likely be in response to Republicans blocking their bills repeatedly. And there’s plenty of pent-up angst in the Democratic Party, which is now in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time in more than a decade.
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The fight over the filibuster holds major consequences, both immediate and into the future. McConnell and Schumer met on Tuesday for a half-hour about how to organize the Senate but came to no resolution. McConnell brought up the filibuster in that meeting, while Schumer argued the Senate should adopt the same rules from the last 50-50 Senate in 2001, which didn’t touch on the 60-vote threshold.
The longer the standoff over the organizing package persists, the weirder the Senate will become. New senators have not been added to committees and the ratios have not changed, leaving the GOP in the majority on some panels. That’s already complicating the ability of the Senate to confirm some of President Joe Biden’s nominees.
“It’s exactly the opposite of the conversation that we should be having today,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). “To sort of jade the day of the inauguration and three new senators being sworn in with sort of political hostage-taking is, I think, an indication of how Machiavellian politics around here have become.”
Democrats could change the Senate rules to a simple majority with the support of all 50 Senate Democrats as well as Vice President Kamala Harris via the “nuclear option,” or a unilateral rules change. The rules have been changed by a majority three times since 2013, once by Democrats and twice by Republicans — first on gutting the filibuster on most nominations, then on Supreme Court picks and finally to shorten the debate time for some nominees. Changing the legislative filibuster would effectively make the Senate much more like the House, a majoritarian institution.
Democrats have not discussed the filibuster impasse with McConnell as a caucus yet, though they are expected to hold a party meeting by phone as soon as Thursday. And several Democrats said they aren’t sure exactly how Schumer will thread the needle with his GOP counterpart. Schumer has repeatedly declined to comment on the talks with McConnell and on the filibuster. Notably, McConnell held firm on keeping the filibuster rule in place even as Trump repeatedly attacked him on Twitter.
But Democrats have strong feelings on the subject that will be hard to reconcile with McConnell’s demand. As Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) put it: “I don’t think there is any way that Democrats would find it acceptable to invoke new rules that McConnell certainly never volunteered to abide by himself.”
“It’s generally up to the majority as to whether they want to pursue a conversation about changing the rules. And we should reserve that right,” added Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “I’m a supporter of filibuster reform, I obviously want to make my case to the caucus when and if that moment arises.”
Schumer may be able to satisfy McConnell with something less than a written commitment, perhaps a speech on the Senate floor or a verbal acknowledgement that his preference is not to invoke the nuclear option. But even some Republicans are skeptical that Democrats will give up their leverage so easily and simply trust that Republicans will work with them on legislation.
The Sedition Party just tried to overturn the 2020 election, and incited an insurrection against the U.S. government in order to end American democracy and install Donald Trump as a dictator. There is no negotiating with terrorists. Trust them? Don’t be a damn fool.