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Let ‘em eat cake, Sen. McConnell?

Marie Antoinette McConnell

You and your Republican majority are wrapping up a weekend off while almost 30 million jobless workers are scared stiff trying to figure out how to make ends meet now that you’ve let lapse their $600 in enhanced federal weekly unemployment benefits. You also stood idly by when the federal eviction moratorium ended, leaving 12 million tenants at risk of losing their housing.

You’re a Fox News fan. So maybe you haven’t heard that we’re deep into one of our country’s worst crises, a one-two-three gut punch that threatens our lives, livelihoods and homes.

More than 154,000—and counting--of your fellow citizens have died from COVID-19. The lethal virus is the biggest threat to world health since the 1918-1919 global influenza pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic—and you, your president and your party's stubborn refusal to take decisive action against it—is tanking the economy.

The coronavirus pandemic—and you, your president and your party's stubborn refusal to take decisive action against it—is tanking the economy. Unemployment hasn’t been this bad since the Great Depression.

But you gave the Senate—where you and your party rule the roost—a worry-free break for golfing at the country club, sipping a cold one or two around the backyard pool, getting away to the country home, or whatever.

I hear you claim to admire another Senate majority leader from Kentucky, Alben Barkley. He ran the Senate in FDR’s time. He, his president and his party lost no time in passing landmark legislation to fight our greatest-ever economic calamity.

Barkley, from Paducah, would have kept the Senate in session.

Anyway, remember back in May when the Democratic-majority House passed the HEROES Act? Reminiscent of comprehensive New Deal legislation that Barkley backed during the Depression, the measure includes extending the weekly $600 UI payments and the eviction moratorium.

What was it you called the HEROES Act, senator? Oh, yeah, “an unserious product from an unserious majority.”

You've made it clear that your top priority in any additional coronavirus relief legislation is protecting bosses from getting sued for refusing to properly protect their workers from getting coronavirus.

In April, you suggestedon Trump lickspittle Hugh Hewitt's radio show that cash-strapped states hard hit by the pandemic ought to trim spending and declare bankruptcy in lieu of seeking more aid from Washington.

Maybe your elitist wisecrack won’t go down in history with Marie Antoinette’s infamous “Let ‘em eat cake.”

Okay, King Louis XVI’s royal consort might not have said exactly that when she heard her impoverished subjects were breadless and starving. But she had the same contempt for folks the Good Book calls “the least among us” that you do.

So did her spouse.

Louisville, your hometown, is named for the French monarch because he sent troops and money to help us beat Mother Britain in the Revolutionary War. Louis despised the idea of republican government; he just wanted to get even with the Brits for stomping France in the Seven Years' War—the French and Indian War on our side of the pond.

In any event, the French Revolution, inspired in part by our revolution, didn’t turn out well for France’s royal couple. Time will tell if Nov. 3 will be a close encounter of the worst kind for you.

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To be sure, senator, it’s no secret that you’re a millionaire, though most of your constituents—myself among them—live a long way from Easy Street. You've spent 35 years on Capitol Hill insisting that Uncle Sam’s Job One is enriching the already rich.

But I’ve got to hand it to you. You keep winning and may again.

You’ve been running a successful con on Kentuckians every six years since 1984. You’re the political grifter’s grifter.

You’ve a maestro at dog whistle politics and a pro at pandering on the social issues. You’ve used the double-dupe to hide your record of voting for everything to enhance the bank accounts—domestic and off-shore--of plutocrats like yourself.

You’re a bare-knucks union-buster. You believe government at any level has no responsibility to help people who need help and to safeguard workers, consumers and the environment against the greedy excesses inherent in the unfettered, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist system you deify.

You’re an old-time social Darwinist who believes that if you’re poor it’s because of your own shortcomings.

At least you’re consistent. Right on cue, you’ve dusted off your old playbook and updated it for Amy McGrath, your moderate Democratic opponent.

You’re telling us how much you love guns (and your soulmate Trump) and hate abortion and socialism.

You’d have us believe that McGrath--a Naval Academy grad and former Marine jet pilot--is a gun-grabbing, criminal-coddling, endorser of baby-killers, a fan of anarchy and a radical socialist.

All that baloney—I can think of a lot stronger word--is more proof—as if proof were needed—that The Cynic, Alec MacGillis’s book about you, is aptly titled.

You figure the same old smoke screen will work for you again on Nov. 3, and it might.

But no matter how the election turns out, history won’t be kind to you--or your president. Maybe you (and Trump) don’t care.

Louisville, your hometown, is named for Louis XVI. The city honored him with a statue for providing us a big boost over the Brits. But I’d bet the farm that you won’t get a statue in a public place in the Falls City. (You don’t fare too well on election days in Kentucky's largest city.)

In Paducah, there's a monument to Barkley, dubbed “The Veep” while he was Harry Truman’s vice president, at 28th and Jefferson streets.

“I have been a loyal, regular Democrat all during my career,” he wrote in That Reminds Me, his folksy 1954 autobiography. “… However, that has never precluded me from recognizing a lot of good things emanating from the opposition. In the period when I was in Congress and the Democrats were in the minority I supported measures I thought were beneficial for the people, regardless of which side of the aisle they came from.”

Sen. McConnell, that’s about as un-you as it gets.

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Berry Craig

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