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Capo McConnell

Musings on the New Year

Former Vice President Al Gore, who lost to President George W. Bush 20 years ago, is back in the news. 

The media has been contrasting Gore, who lost with dignity and grace, with Donald Trump’s Banana Republic-style power grab to steal the 2020 election and stay in office. 

Recognizing how democracy is supposed to work, Gore set aside his obvious disappointment and dutifully fulfilled one of the last requirements of his office by presiding over Congress’s counting of the Electoral College vote that put Bush in the White House.

In contrast, the media hasn’t made much of another sitting vice president—a Kentuckian—who ran for president in 1860. Maybe that’s because after overseeing the electoral vote count that made his rival president, he ultimately betrayed his country and joined an armed rebellion against the new president and his government.

John C. Breckinridge of Lexington, who ran for president on the pro-slavery Southern Democratic ticket, couldn’t abide the free and fair election of anti-slavery Republican Abraham Lincoln. So, he became a Confederate general and ended America’s most lethal conflict as the enemy secretary of war.

According to Newsweek, Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to permit a standalone vote on those proposed $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks for Americans by declaring, “Ten out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky.” Sanders suggested that McConnell “might want to get on the phone and start talking to working families in Kentucky and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $2,000 check for adults.”

Long before he became Don Corleone Trump’s capo, McConnell was running the Senate like a mob boss. 

You’d think it would be mission impossible to get people to vote against their own economic interests. But it’s mission accomplished for McConnell because on November 3, he carried all ten of the counties Sanders cited. (President Trump did, too.)

“People all over the country are upset that Kentucky keeps electing McConnell,” said Daniel Hurt, a member of the state Democratic committee. “I wish they would move here so they could help us ditch Mitch.

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Long before he became Don Corleone Trump’s capo, McConnell was running the Senate like a mob boss. 

When $2,000 Covid relief checks were proposed, McConnell snapped, “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need help.” 

He meant hell would freeze over before he permitted a vote on the money.

McConnell is “a modern day Machiavelli, a primal bully whose praise of immoral leadership like that of the Borgia family is well known,” Regina Clarke wrote in Medium. “When he wrote the political treatise The Prince in the 1500s, Machiavelli declared that any deceit and connivance and punishment that harms the citizens of a country was sometimes required to secure and sustain power. This is a behavior that is embraced and taken as gospel by Mitch McConnell.”

Added Clarke, “McConnell as ‘bully’ is a rather vicious demonstration of our now dysfunctional political system. He processes his agendas one by one, bit by bit, in a way that speaks to our worst side as a country, not our best. 

For Mitch, anything that helps the Republican party—and him—gain supreme control is good—anything else is bad, and must be pushed down and defeated, the opposition pulverized.”

“McConnell, with his hypocrisy, guile, and cynicism, has broken the American system of government,” wrote Joseph Gerth in The Louisville Courier-Journal, McConnell’s hometown paper. “….No one should count on McConnell to do the right thing, the ethical thing, or the honest thing. The only thing he craves and respects is power.”

Gerth frequently fires verbal broadsides against Capo McConnell that unseam “him from the nave to th’ chops.”

Writing in The Nation, Jeet Heer proposed, “Now is the time for Democrats to start treating McConnell as what he really is: a ruthless partisan who games the system in a way that makes political negotiations impossible. By turning the spotlight on McConnell’s underhanded tactics, Democrats will have a better argument for their own senatorial candidates, both in the Georgia run-offs and in the 2022 midterms.

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“The Democrats need to make it clear that so long as the GOP is in thrall to McConnell, American is doomed to gridlock and weak governance. The stimulus fight gives them the perfect chance to start making this case.”

Berry Craig