|A guide to|
|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
“”Darth Vader has arrived.
|—Don't flatter yourself, Rick Moranis.|
“”He didn't introduce himself to his students. He went straight to the chalkboard and scribbled. "I am going to teach you the three things you need to build a political party," he said, and backed away to reveal the words: "Money, money, money."
"Moscow" Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr. is the senior U.S. Senator from KY who spends most of his time as a greasy lobbyist for Wells Fargo, Big Coal, Big Guns, and Big Tobacco, now working for Big Insurance. He gives far more precedence to these activities than actually serving the interests of his constituents.
He is the current Minority Leader for the Republicans in the Senate and the longest-serving Senator from Kentucky ever. As a child he had a serious case of polio which nearly left him paralyzed, and he still has some lingering mobility problems. He is also a massive tool who will do anything and violate just about any principle for the sake of his party. What distinguishes him from his GOP colleagues, almost all of whom are similarly unprincipled, is that he is very good at it.
Despite his modern reputation as a conservative obstructionist, when McConnell began his political career in the late 1970s, he was part of the Republican party's liberal wing; he supported the Civil Rights movement, worked to block restrictions on abortion, backed collective bargaining rights for public employees, considered himself an environmentalist, and even used "Progressive" as a compliment. Kentucky was still a Democratic stronghold at the time, so this worked to his advantage.
However, he entered the national sphere at the exact time the Republicans were making a rightward shift away from figures like Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller, and in what became a pattern across his career, McConnell abandoned his previously-held principles in the pursuit of power and power alone.
“”… becoming a very good politician, in the McConnell sense, requires avoiding all aspects of politics that don't involve campaigning, until you are so electorally aerodynamic that sliding into victory becomes easy and everything else — legislating, compromising — becomes impossible.
The Republican Party owes all of its victories to McConnell. He was the architect of their 2010 sweep and the man who single-highhandedly forced the Republicans to stuff anything and everything "Obama" at the start of his term. If it wasn't for McConnell, you wouldn't have had the Tea Party. He blocked Obama from appointing Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on the most absurd of pretexts and, instead, allowed Trump to nominate Neil Gorsuch, whom McConnell's Senate approved.
His wife, Elaine Chao, was tapped as Transportation Secretary by Trump. As Labor Secretary under Bush II, she was responsible for rolling back key safety protections that cost miners their lives, and she has paid fines for illegal campaign contributions in the past. She was part and parcel of the cronyism that defined Trump's cabinet.
The reason Republicans not only tolerate one of the most hated politicians in the nation but make him their de facto leader is that his strategies work. Even as the minority leader (during the early Obama administration), he is so skilled at constitutional hardball that sabotaging a Democratic president with control of Congress seems almost trivial. As majority leader, he can turn a president elected with a massive mandate into a failure and remake the judiciary in his image. This, in turn, makes Democratic voters dangerously apathetic, and depressed turnout carries his party over the edge. We saw this in action in 2010, 2014, and to a lesser extent 2016. McConnell is arguably the most influential senate party leader since Lyndon Johnson.
“”All the things he chooses to present to the people who come there are about his races. And that's all it is. There's almost nothing in those rooms about what he's actually accomplished in all of the decades he’s been in office.
|—Alec MacGillis on the McConnell archives|
His biggest achievement to date was tricking Obama into signing the ACA. Obama then takes all the blame for passing a Republican healthcare plan which will then act as a permanent poison pill for single payer in the future. McConnell has also vehemently stated many times that the Republicans' goal was to "deny Obama a second term." Not only has he failed in that regard, after becoming Majority Leader in 2014, he followed that up by… helping the Obama administration push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump later pulled out of solely because… Obama.
The only two issues that McConnell seems to be passionate about are flag desecration and campaign-finance reform. Contrary to his party, he believes strongly in the right to desecrate the flag, seeing it as protected under the First Amendment. He is also fiercely against campaign finance regulation, feeling that it violates the First Amendment (but also his sources of funding). Indeed, he was against campaign finance reform even when both parties wanted it. The tactics he used against these bills in the early 90s would give him the experience in procedural abuse that would serve him so well during the Obama administration.
He is considered ever-so-slightly better on gay rights than the rest of the GOP. This means, of course, that he is OK with the fact that gays exist and might, conceivably, hire one. Moreover, he is less willing to use gay rights as a wedge issue in a campaign, unlike the erstwhile junior senator, Jim Bunning. That he is not as anti-gay as the rest of the party has helped fuel extensive speculation that he is, in fact, gay. (Last election saw fliers photo-shopped to make McConnell into a member of the Village People. That the Democrats of Kentucky would resort to gay-bashing tells you everything you need about KY politics. Shit sandwich of a different color.)
One of the few areas he doesn't completely suck is with regards to vaccination. Unlike most of the party nowadays, which is jumping aboard the antivax train and denying the science, Mitch has always been pro-vaccine, partly because he was a polio survivor. He is also a staunch supporter of Ukraine in the war against Russia, and has repeatedly called for properly funding the Ukrainian war effort.
The nickname "Moscow Mitch" was first used in 2019 after the House had passed two bills aimed at securing the United States election from interference. McConnell, unfortunately, revealed himself to be yet another Russian asset when he blocked both bills from being voted. The good senator's infamous connections with Russian influence peddlers did not begin there. During the presidential campaign of 2016, McConnell refused to make a bipartisan statement warning the public of Russian attempts at election interference. Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska was sanctioned in April 2018 for attempting to meddle in the U.S. elections. McConnell was among the advocates for lifting sanctions on Rusal, a Deripaska-controlled company. Shortly after sanctions were lifted, Deripaska’s company announced a $200,000,000 investment in Kentucky, Mitch's home state. Furthermore, Len Blavatnik, a Soviet Union-born dual national of the US and UK, is financially associated with Russian oligarchs, and he donated $3.5 million to political action committees associated with McConnell. A Pentagon white paper report, Russian Strategic Intentions, concludes:
Hybrid tactics are most effective when the target state has lost the will or capacity to resist. Conversely, countries that do not have these vulnerabilities face little threat from Russian adventurism short of full-scale war. The most prevalent indicators or “signposts” that an entity is vulnerable to Russian hybrid actions include political and social turmoil, large Russian investments in its key capabilities, and weak security structures.
Rigging his own succession
With his wife embroiled in a corruption scandal, McConnell can see the writing on the wall. As a man pushing 80, who has served in the Senate since 1985, he is pushing for the Kentucky legislature to change the law so the governor has to appoint someone from the same party as the retiring incumbent. Currently, Kentucky's governor, a Democrat named Andy Beshear, can appoint a temporary successor to fill an empty Senate seat until the next election. The new law "would strip the governor of that power and put it into the hands of the state GOP." Kentucky has a veto-proof Republican super-majority, which means Governor Beshear, who opposes the law, has no real ability to stop McConnell from rigging his own succession and installing one of his goons to replace him. McConnell has a list of his most favored potential successors, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (a former McConnell Center scholar), former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft (whose billionaire coal husband is a major McConnell donor), and Attorney General Daniel Cameron, described as McConnell's protege and the man who let Breonna Taylor's killers roam free.
- Rockefeller Republican - He originally was one (even naming his cat "Rocky"), until the New Right blew in.
- Karl Rove - Speaking of four-eyed fascists…
- ↑ Bacon Jr., Perry, "GOP Outnumbered in Senate, but McConnell Tries to Ensure It Is Not Outflanked", WaPo 6.22.09.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Cheves, John, "Senator's pet issue: money and the power it buys", Lexington Herald Leader (10/15/06 at 3:46 AM).
- ↑ Wilson, Megan R. "McConnell grows $2.8 million richer", The Hill 6.4.14.
- ↑ Paul Barrett and Jim Rawley, "Mitch McConnell and the Coal Industry’s Last Stand", Bloomberg (12/23/15 at 1:45 AM PST).
- ↑ NRA spent $1.6 million lobbying against background check expansion laws in months leading up to latest mass shootings by Brian Schwartz (Published Mon, Aug 5 2019 4:13 PM EDTUpdated Mon, Aug 5 2019 4:34 PM EDT) CNBC.
- ↑ Mitch McConnell - Top 20 Contributors, 2011-2016, Open Secrets.
- ↑ Closeup on Major Client-Lobbyist "Bundles" to Mitch McConnell, pen Secrets.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Fuller, Jamie, "The 6 things we knew — but forgot — about Mitch McConnell", WaPo 10.1.14.
- ↑ Michael Rubinkam and Chelsea J. Carter, "Senate Plans Hearing on Mine Collapse", WaPo via Associated Press (8/23/07 at 9:42 PM).
- ↑ Halsey III, Elizabeth, "Trump picks Elaine L. Chao for transportation secretary" WaPo 11.29.16 .
- ↑ Stein, Jeff, "Mitch McConnell’s entire career has been about gaining power. What happens now that he has it?", Vox (1/2/17 at 9:40am EST).
- ↑ Time: Why the Flag-burning Ban Failed, TIME
- ↑ https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/24/580171396/biden-mcconnell-refused-to-sign-bipartisan-statement-on-russian-interference
- ↑ How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns by Ruth May (December 15, 2017) The Dallas Morning News.
- ↑ https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016b-a5a1-d241-adff-fdf908e00001
- ↑ "Mitch McConnell Working With Kentucky Legislature on Senate Exit Strategy," Nick Storm, The Intercept
- ↑ "It Appears Mitch McConnell Has Done All the Dirty Work Of Which He's Capable," Charles P. Pierce, Esquire
- ↑ "It Sure Looks Like Daniel Cameron Lied About Breonna Taylor’s Killing," Zak Cheney-Rice, Intelligencer
- ↑ "The Law Is Not Made for Breonna Taylor," Zak Cheney-Rice, Intelligencer