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The Right Resistance: Thorny Mitch McConnell hangs on, still Mr. Establishment

If it seems like the American political situation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and up on Capitol Hill is pretty hopeless, it’s because, in large part, it is.

The Republican Party’s inability to pass – or even to address – the major agenda items its candidates promised the grassroots to take care of at every election time directly led to the type of frustration, anger and desperation that produced a bomb-throwing outsider like Donald Trump in 2016. Trump never promised to “play nice” with the evil Democrats – and he didn’t – which hugely contributed to the 45th president’s remarkable return from political obscurity to once again stand a solid chance of winning that elusive (stolen?) second term.


Meanwhile, House Republicans have seen their majority narrowed to a single vote, a miserable situation where Speaker Mike Johnson was so discouraged that he indicated a couple weeks back that there wouldn’t be an immigration enforcement bill brought up and passed this year. Johnson can do little more than agree to appropriating billions more to send to Ukraine these days, a lack of gumption that’s got him in hot water with conservatives on his side of the big building.


But the same doesn’t apply to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. At last check, there were no legitimate challenges to the octogenarian Kentuckian’s command over the upper chamber’s Republicans, not bad for a guy who’s spent weeks in the hospital recently recovering from fall-induced brain injuries that have, from time to time, caused him to freeze up in front of the media.


Who’s leading who? It’s a real question, these days. At any rate, McConnell doesn’t look to be trying to slip out or disappear into the sunset to enjoy his final months as one of the most powerful legislators of all time. In an article titled “McConnell’s exit isn’t going to be a quiet one”, Alexander Bolton wrote at The Hill:


“For now, McConnell, whose favorite sayings include a version of ‘winners make policy, losers go home,’ wants to preserve as much influence as he can. Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist who has advised McConnell’s past campaigns, said his former boss realizes ‘you can’t die on every hill, because if you did, you’re dead.’


“The GOP leader was notably quiet during the Republican presidential primary and avoided endorsing Trump until the nomination had all but completely been clinched. ‘Is this the hill you’re going to die on when 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent of the Republicans in your state want Trump? Of course not. That would make you dumb,’ Jennings said of that political tension.


“In an interview … on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ McConnell acknowledged his limited influence on his party’s rank-and-file voters…”


Well, it was generous and forthright of Mitch to admit that the Republican party’s own voters can’t stand him. Unlike Trump, McConnell has never appeared to care much about people liking him and his stellar ability to maintain establishment support has kept him where he’s been since George W. Bush was still haunting the halls of the White House.

Earning actual results has never been a driver for McConnell; he’s in it for the power and the power alone. Does that describe a leader?

Want a fun mental exercise? Imagine and describe, if you can/will, what the Republican Party would look like today if Mitch McConnell (who is only slightly older than senile Joe Biden) were in the GOP driver seat waiting to take on the Democrat nominee this November for what likely amounts to a do or die opportunity for America to regain some semblance of governmental competence.


A McConnell-led Republican party could not realistically claim that it values fiscal sanity or minding the federal purse strings. Time and again, McConnell compromised with – some would say sold out to – Democrats so as to vastly increase federal spending and, in the process, hand a victory to the political enemy. Liberals could then claim a public relations win because the socialist side got its cash boosts in return for McConnell’s okay to raise the debt ceiling or to extend tax cuts that should’ve already been made permanent.


Further, a McConnell-led GOP couldn’t credibly claim that it cares about solving the illegal immigration crisis because the Majority/Minority Leader’s swamp establishment friends only demand cheap, unskilled labor and couldn’t give a squat about what harboring and encouraging illegal aliens does to Americans who work with their hands and just seek to make an honest day’s wage in return for their skills and talents.

A McConnell party would happily trade Democrats all the spending shots for “infrastructure” and “climate change green energy enterprises” for Democrats acquiescing to hundreds of billions for endless military expeditions in foreign countries, including those where the true enemy isn’t easily identifiable (i.e., Iran during the Iraq War) and “peace” is an easily spoken about concept that will never be achieved.


The military industrial complex loves Mitch McConnell. No wonder “Cocaine Mitch” and his ideological RINO brethren (Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney) band together so readily to oppose Donald Trump. The former president appreciated NATO, but he’d make them pay their fair share to defend themselves, even threatening to not honor “guarantees” of U.S. help if they didn’t pony up the dough.


Therefore, if McConnell were the face of the GOP, wouldn’t senile Joe Biden be a shoe-in for reelection? Why? Not only is McConnell the most unpopular nationally known politician in the country, nearly as many of his own party members disapprove of him as Democrats do. The bespectacled “turtle” continues to command conservatives’ respect and thanks for his work in assuring an originalist majority on the Supreme Court, but one act of principle and steadfastness only buys so much lasting gratitude.


It could also be argued that McConnell, together with a handful of Republican House Speakers (such as John Boehner and Paul Ryan) is almost singlehandedly responsible for the GOP’s reputation as the “Stupid Party”, mostly due to the “stupid” things they’ve done over the years by pursuing “bipartisan” compromise in the times when Republicans truly had the numbers and public support to pass “big” items.


Or ditch them, in the case of Obamacare.


To his credit, Mitch has proven effective, at times, in leading the Republican minority to block the biggest and most disastrous of Democrat transformational ideas, but how hard is it to summons forty votes to mount a filibuster against Democrat plans from the kook fringe? At the same time, McConnell’s allowed wishy-washy outcasts like Mitt Romney and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski to buck the rest of the party’s senators whenever they’ve felt like it.


Would Chuckie Schumer put up with such defiance from his Democrats? Some would point out that West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s (now independent) Kyrsten Sinema both sank big chunks of Biden’s and the Democrats’ agenda, but there’s a reason why Schumer enjoys near universal support for his leadership among liberals. Schumer would lie, murder and steal to keep his troops in line. Would McConnell do the same for Republican voters?


Put it this way – when McConnell announced he wouldn’t pursue another term as Republican leader, there probably were so many champagne corks popped around the nation that it sounded like an illegal street gun battle in downtown Chicago.


And if McConnell’s people organized a big venue rally starring the outgoing Minority Leader, no one would show up. Not only does Mitch lack Donald Trump’s issue appeal to the masses, he’s boring, has an incurable monotone and is often barely comprehensible.


So how has McConnell managed to hang on to his position? You may recall that not too long ago, Florida Senator Rick Scott attempted to oust McConnell and lead Republicans to some semblance of opposition to Democrat hegemony, but the 2022 elections ended the Floridian’s takeover bid, no matter how improbable it was at the time.


There still are the usual handful of conservative voices speaking out against the current direction of the party and the country, but Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz (among others) can’t hope to do it all themselves. McConnell has remained secure in his position due to a Praetorian-like guard of GOP establishment senators shielding him from challenges.


This group includes two establishmentarians – Senators John Thune (SD) and John Cornyn (TX) – who hope to succeed Mitch when he finally does bow out, but neither would represent much of a change of direction for the Republicans in Congress. There’s wishful thinking that a new crop of Republicans ushered in during a 2024 Trump “wave” election could alter the balance some – but only so far.


Donald Trump himself, if he does win this year, will likely have significant coattails and political capital to spend in his first hundred days. But the Democrats will battle anything Trump asks for in both the House and Senate and the filibuster for legislation presents a virtually impenetrable barrier to getting things done on MAGA.


McConnell will still be in the senate, too (after leaving his leadership post), and no doubt will still wield influence with the RINO contingent regardless of who manages to take over as Republican Leader. Trump will need to accomplish many of his aims via executive order unless the numbers are there to push the Democrat opposition to the side.


Here’s hoping the new Congress, with Trump as president, will concentrate on big picture items like budgeting and reform, but the spending addicts – including McConnell – will fight him tooth and nail.


Does this present a bleak picture? Perhaps. But Mitch McConnell will cast a rather large shadow on the Senate and Congress unless Trump comes in with a solid enough victory where the public would support getting his ideas through in legislative form. Here’s thinking Trump will have a hard enough time mustering a majority of senators to confirm some of his cabinet appointees.


It's true that Mitch McConnell’s exit won’t be a quiet one. Despite his advanced age, McConnell believes that his military adventurism is the proper path for the United States. It will be up to Trump and the conservatives in Congress to truly change things in Washington. Can it be done?

  • Joe Biden economy

  • inflation

  • Biden cognitive decline

  • gas prices,

  • Nancy Pelosi

  • Biden senile

  • January 6 Committee

  • Liz Cheney

  • Build Back Better

  • Joe Manchin

  • RINOs

  • Marjorie Taylor Green

  • Kevin McCarthy

  • Mitch McConnell

  • 2022 elections

  • Donald Trump

  • 2024 presidential election

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