McConnell Is a Massive Hypocrite, but It Hardly Matters

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Mitch McConnell has a new favorite media strategy: placing op-eds in mainstream media outlets to make liberals’ heads to explode. In January, in the midst of the longest government shutdown in history, he wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post decrying the Democrats’ proposed electoral reform bill as a “power grab.” He was mad, essentially, that Democrats wanted more people to be able to vote, because that tends to mean more people will vote for Democrats.

Today we got another installment of Mitch Does Takes, with an op-ed in Politico Magazine also directed at Democrats, but this time decrying their “historic obstruction” of President Trump’s nominees.

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Yes, there are many, many examples of hypocrisy throughout McConnell’s piece. You could note his description of cloture votes as a “once-rare procedural step” is pretty fucking rich considering they rose to prominence under Obama because his party kept filibustering nominations. You could note his history of blocking high-profile nominees, like Richard Cordray, or you could simply say the name “Merrick Garland” and feel the rage course through your veins. You could note that in 1994, he said: “I am a proud guardian of gridlock. I think gridlock is making a big comeback in the country.” You could note that in November 2013, Politifact reported there were 68 nominees blocked in the entire history of the U.S. before Obama, “and 79 (so far) during Obama’s term.” You could note that one of Obama’s judicial nominees literally died after two years of waiting for a confirmation vote.

But there’s not a lot of point in huffing and sputtering about hypocrisy when it comes to Mitch—as our former colleague Alex Pareene wrote recently in a New Republic cover story, he’s “gleefully nihilist” about Senate procedure:

Political journalists have been asking versions of this question since basically the day he became the top Republican in the Senate despite a conspicuous lack of charisma, friends, or big ideas. The New York Times Magazine’s Charles Homans was the latest reporter to puzzle over the sphinxlike riddle of McConnell’s deeper motivations, in a lengthy profile published in January. The answer, as ever, is that McConnell is in every way a study in stolid depth-resistance. He’s basically just what he looks like: a man serenely unbothered by anything he’s done to get his power or anything he’s done with it, having few friends but many allies. Homans’s profile attempts to answer a question—can McConnell square his record with his apparent belief in himself as a man of principle?—that is only of interest if you genuinely care about whether he knows what a hypocritical bastard he is, or if you think someone asking him the right question can get him to care.

Mitch’s deep-seated hypocrisy is unimportant to him and his donors. It’s completely immaterial. What matters to him is consolidating more power, by whatever means necessary, saying whatever he needs to at that moment to justify it, regardless of what he’s said or done in the past. He practically dares you to point out his hypocrisy, because the charge doesn’t matter to him, and he knows it doesn’t particularly impact whether or not his gambit will succeed. There are no prizes for Most Consistent Politician, and there’s certainly no money in that.

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Libby Watson

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com