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Anyone who doubts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s drive and ability to wield power unhindered by any sense of fair play in pursuit of plutocratic ends should read Allen Raymond’s 2008 book titled: How To Rig An Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative. Raymond recounts his career as a political hatchet man for the GOP. And even as aggressive and merciless the young Raymond was as a Republican operative, he notes that Mitch McConnell’s oily demeanor still scared the shit out of him.

Raymond is a rich white Republican guy with an illustrious New England pedigree who had dedicated his youth to getting other rich white Republican guys elected to office. He gained brief notoriety following the 2002 midterm elections for being at the center of a criminal enterprise that jammed the phone lines of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire, which ultimately earned him a 5-month stint in a federal pen.

The “campaign operation” that landed him in jail involved blocking the phone lines at the Democratic Party headquarters during the party’s get-out-the-vote effort. Raymond at the time likened it to a military exercise aimed to destroy “the enemy’s” communications.

The illegal 2002 assault on the New Hampshire Democrats helped the right-wing blowhard John Sununu win a Senate seat and played a big role in vanquishing a number of down-ballot Democratic candidates in close races.

With equal doses of self-aggrandizement and contempt for his opponents, Raymond plied his trade of smears, libel, push-polls, voter suppression, and exploiting wedge politics to rise through the ranks. Soon he was rubbing elbows with Karl Rove, Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who in 1998 had been elected chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the party’s chief fundraising and campaign organ for Senate races that year.

At the time of his first meeting with the Senator Raymond describes McConnell this way:

joseph palermo

“He was a champion earner for the GOP; his rabid opposition to any and all campaign finance reform was the stuff of legend. He was also a scary, scary man.” (p. 124)

After an aide informed Raymond that his 20-minute meeting with McConnell “went really well” Raymond writes:

“What, I wondered, would a bad meeting have involved? Rusty hooks and a ball gag? I was relieved that the senator approved of me, but I never wanted to be alone with him again. He terrified me.” (p. 124)

Raymond explains:

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“With Haley Barbour, you always knew he was serious and that you had to do a good job, but he was also open and gregarious. Senator McConnell was like a sheet of drywall. He could probably sit straight-backed and rigid for seventy-two hours without a bathroom break if he needed to. As I said, terrifying, but it’s also what made him a great politician. Forget never letting anyone see you sweat – McConnell wouldn’t let you see him breathe.” (pp. 124-125)

In 1998, as head of the NRSC McConnell wanted most to unseat the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, who had some success in putting limits on the amount of money that could be spent on political campaigns.

“No Senate race that year,” Raymond writes, “held McConnell’s personal attention like Feingold versus Neumann in Wisconsin. Russ Feingold was the freshman Democratic senator and Mark Neumann was the Republican House member challenging him. In his first term, Feingold had set himself up as the Senate’s premier proponent of campaign finance reform; McConnell was the chief proponent of the status quo. McConnell had cobbled together a strange coalition . . . to oppose Feingold’s reform movement, but that movement struck a chord with voters that went beyond party lines. McConnell badly needed Feingold out of office.” (p. 129)

When it comes to fighting for the cause of making American elections ever more marinated in corporate money McConnell is at least consistent. In January 2010 he was so giddy about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling he personally ventured over to the court to hear the announcement and sang its praises to the press.

McConnell always despised limits on political spending. He understands that the more money flowing into our nation’s politics means more Republicans elected and his own power enhanced.

McConnell always despised limits on political spending. He understands that the more money flowing into our nation’s politics means more Republicans elected and his own power enhanced.

As he grasps in his hands the many powers enumerated in the post of Majority Leader of the United States Senate, McConnell is fulfilling a life-long dream achieved through massive amounts of money as well as underhanded tactics (such as obstructionism for political gain). And as Majority Leader McConnell wields greater power than he has ever held in his life. Some hack pundits predict that such awesome power will have a moderating influence on him.

Don’t count on it.

Joseph Palermo

Joseph Palermo

People who strive for power the way McConnell has done throughout his career cannot be trusted to “moderate” themselves. His Mayberry Machiavellianism of total obstruction that began six years ago today on the day of President Obama’s inauguration has paid dividends. Consolidating more power in the hands of a man like McConnell is a dangerous proposition. At the very least, people who are not already rich are likely going to find their lives getting a lot tougher. He is indeed, as Raymond said, “a scary, scary man.”

Joseph Palermo

Republished with permission from Joseph Palermo's Blog.