Mitch McConnell's Tragic Lust for Power
His rejection of the Jan. 6 commission is business as usual
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For a brief moment, Mitch McConnell told the truth. It was February 13. He had just voted to acquit Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection. Yet he acknowledged the twice-impeached Trump’s civil and criminal culpability. Recognizing the source, his words were unexpected.
January 6 was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president.
They did this because they'd been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth, because he was angry he'd lost an election. Former President Trump's actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty…There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day, no question about it.
The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.
There is not a single word of this with which I disagree. This was a moment—after the years of attacks on our democracy—when I almost felt a turning point.
But these words were uttered by Mitch McConnell, the former Senate Majority Leader, the self-described Grim Reaper, the man whose over-riding mission was to make Barack Obama a one-term president, the man who refused for nearly a year to give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing for the open Supreme Court seat, the man who voted against sanctions on a Russian aluminum company then reveled in that same company’s announcement that it would spend $200 million to build a plant in Kentucky, the man who in his greedy hunger for power assisted Donald Trump’s desecration of the Oval Office and degradation of our democratic system.
These words could not endure, not when the shamelessly cynical McConnell saw his fellow Republicans kowtowing to the Palm Beach club owner and clinging to the Big Lie as if there were no other way to feed their empty bellies and sustain their hold on a deranged cult desperate for dirty lies and reckless conspiracies.
No, after acknowledging Trump’s role in inciting the deadly insurrection, McConnell was back to his old games—one day he’s considering supporting the bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6, the next day he’s calling it partisan and redundant. Forget the Republicans’ 33 Benghazi hearings, which provided an egregious illustration of partisanship and redundancy.
“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” said McConnell, He was not about to throw his fate with elected officials who think an attack on the Capitol (their own workplace) deserves special attention. The man who for a brief moment had decided to speak honestly was back to avoiding conflict with the evicted White House occupant.
He was not alone, of course. Note the words of Sen. John Thune, McConnell’s number 2, and the aggressive effort to move on—and to squeeze out some political benefit, justice and truth be damned. “Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 elections, I think, is a day lost on being able to draw a contrast between us and the Democrats’ very radical left-wing agenda.”
While 35 Republican House members joined with the Democrats to vote for the commission, 175 voted against it, underscoring the continuing refusal of Republicans to face facts and fulfill their duty as Americans to confront that insurrectionist act of domestic terrorism.
Yes, McConnell’s blunt rejection all but kills the plan in the Senate. But we must never be surprised: It’s business as usual from Mitch McConnell, whose tragic lust for power takes American democracy another step closer toward its demise.
The battle continues.
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I will never understand how elected officials, given the safety, & guardianship of their communities can support a man that is clearly not looking out for our best interests. I realize it’s all about power, the hunger for power that motivates this, but I just can’t square it within my soul. Do these leaders not have children, grandchildren or are they thinking with power they could line their pockets & pass that onto their children, thereby making them untouchable. Above the fray, so to speak. This mindset is evil. I’m so glad when I stand before my maker I will not hear this type of thing on my long list of unGodlike behavior. With my luck I will get stuck in line behind McConnel in line at the pearly gates & my body will not be able to stand that long…
Where to start? I’m afraid too many people aren’t taking all of what you described in your piece about McConnell and republicans in Congress seriously enough. This isn’t just politics, it’s a real, honest to goodness continuing attempt at government overthrow. Once you accept that premise it simplifies what must be done.
I think most republicans in Congress are operating from a position of real fear. Some say it’s their own fault for giving Trump power over them. But it’s not that simple. We know Trump threatens people. It’s how he has operated his entire adult life. We also know Putin was involved in making sure Trump was elected in 2016. Putin is essentially a glorified mob boss, as is Trump.
With that in mind, it’s reasonable to assume that many Congressional republicans have been and are currently being threatened. It would certainly explain a lot of their behavior. Bottom line, whatever their reasons are for not voting for a bipartisan commission to find out the details of the Jan. 6 insurrection, democrats have no choice but to carry on without any GOP cooperation.
Democrats should form their own commission, inviting republicans to join if they choose to. But the fact that no republicans will agree to a bipartisan commission shouldn’t stop democrats from getting to the bottom of what happened and how it happened.
So what if republicans denigrate the findings of a partisan commission! As an attorney, I know that people in the position Dems are in right now must fulfill their duty to the best of their ability regardless of what others in their same position do. Dems have a responsibility to the American people. Republicans do too, but if they refuse to discharge their duty it falls to democrats to do what they know is the right thing to do.
I have one more point. The longer this stalemate continues without resolution, the more emboldened the bad actors will be and the harder it will be to resolve the issues in play without violence. I understand that politicians aren’t in the habit of drawing lines in the sand, but I believe our country and our way of life is in real peril.