Mitch McConnell’s Cynical Calculations
Signs of a rupture in the nearly unanimous Republican refusal to acknowledge the truth of Jan. 6 is not a reason to celebrate anytime soon
This week Mitch McConnell uttered words that made him sound like he was committed to the truth of January 6. “We all were here,” he said. “We saw what happened. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next.”
They were words that could have come from almost any Democrat or the two Republicans who’ve decided that they have a responsibility to their country to confront the violent reality of January 6. They were in response to the Republican National Committee’s censure of Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, which included the untethered resolution declaring that they are participating in a “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”
In the last few days since the RNC overwhelmingly backed this resolution—passed without debate or discussion—we have heard some backlash from the likes of Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. The Washington Post described how the three words of “legitimate political discourse” have sparked “a rift” among Republicans. Collins called these three words “absurd” and Romney noted that “honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
But consider what else Sen. Collins had to say, underscoring where her deeper concern resides: “Every moment that is spent re-litigating a lost election or defending those who have been convicted of criminal behavior moves us further away from the goal of victory this fall.”
And then there’s Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, he of the fist-raising, crowd-inciting, legitimate-election-denying variety. “Listen, whatever you think about the RNC vote, it reflects the view of most Republican voters,” he said to reporters Tuesday. “In my state, it’s not helpful to have a bunch of D.C. Republicans commenting on the RNC.”
Of course, the insurrectionist holing up in Mar-a-Lago used the moment to attack McConnell and perpetuate the Big Lie one more time. “Mitch McConnell does not speak for the Republican Party…He did nothing to fight for his constituents and stop the most fraudulent election in American history,” he said on Wednesday.
But before we hail the Senate minority leader for his newly discovered honesty, let’s not forget the cynical calculation and the insatiable hunger to hold onto power that drives him. These are the impulses that led him to deny even a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland more than eight months before the 2016 election.
These are the same instincts that led him to acquit Trump in the second impeachment trial on February 13, five weeks after the January 6 attack, even though he knew what happened was “a disgrace,” involved “terrorism” and resulted from a mob “fed falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth”; McConnell also admitted that Trump engaged in “a disgraceful dereliction of duty” and he “is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”
Yes, in an act of verbal whiplash, McConnell said all that on the Senate floor within hours of Trump going scot-free once again, thanks to his and other Republican’s acquittal. This after he said nothing for weeks and weeks while Trump spread his cancerous lies after the election. And then, not only did he later block a bipartisan January 6 investigation and support a Georgia Senate candidate like Herschel Walker who supports Trump’s lies of election fraud—he also pledged to back Trump if he’s the nominee in 2024.
“Absolutely,” he said of his readiness to back the same man he said committed a disgraceful dereliction of duty and was morally responsible for January 6. Absolutely. Oh, and that promise did not come long after the memory of his bracing speech on the Senate floor. He pledged to support Trump on Feb. 25, 2021, just 12 days later.
Perhaps Mitch has gotten a strong whiff of the dirty deeds that the House Select Committee will unspool in televised hearings this spring—and once again, seeing which way the wind is blowing, has decided to get out in front of this potent danger for Republicans. Perhaps he served up a tiny slice of honesty because he hoped to provide cover for scared Republicans whose fragile psyches prohibit them from telling the truth and facing the Wrath of Donald.
But before allowing myself to revel in the small rupture in the unanimous Republican rejection of reality, I’m reminded that Mitch has survived by exploiting the gentle optimism of Democrats who want to believe that the tide is turning and fiercely intransigent opponents will somehow see the light.
This week’s wisp of truth may be as easily forgotten as his “principled” assertion in 2016 that, eight months before the the election, it was important to “give the people a voice” in deciding who should join the Supreme Court. As we know now, in 2020, eight days before that election, he no longer thought it was necessary to “give the people a voice” when he saw a chance to hustle Amy Coney Barrett through. Let’s not forget it.
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I’ll never forget ..and the hypocrisy of what he did involving the whip lash explanations of withholding or ramming through a Supreme Court pick; has allowed me to see his true colors. Furthermore, KY keeps putting this man in power. Having 8 family members who reside in KY (only 1 who votes republican) I have watched and wondered why. My mother says he keeps telling them he’s bringing back coal, and even though he votes against bills that help people, he takes credit when the money flows into KY.
I thought he was going to resign when there was murmurs of Elaine’s wrong-doing as Secretary of Transportation. I guess that was all shoved under the giant GOP rug.
I’ll never forget how he obstructed the O’Bama administration blatantly for the entire 8 years. They are trying to use the same playbook here. I am praying the democrats can maintain majorities in both the house and senate. We are in a fight for the soul of the nation for sure. In my mind it’s the war between good and evil, truth and lies, hate and love... and justice must come to those who are deforming all that is good in the body of politics. Have a great weekend Steven.
McConnell is the most duplicitous politician (apology for the redundancy) in recent times, with only power on his mind. The Democrats could use an army like him.