Mitch McConnell never puts America first

Whatever voters decide in November, one thing is certain. Mitch McConnell will be there as Republican leader to enforce his party’s immigration, climate and voting rights obstruction and ensure a Democratic president doesn’t win legislative victories.

You can add gun safety to this list.

If McConnell has no revelation after the horror in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman entered an elementary school to murder 19 children, expect absolutely no legislative action to address these shamefully frequent tragedies.

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, named McConnell “the common theme of doing nothing about gun violence.”

McConnell, who was elected to a seventh term by Kentucky voters in 2020, will become the longest-serving Senate leader in history next year, surpassing Democrat Mike Mansfield, a statesman loved by both sides of the aisle. For his part, McConnell has been berated by Democrats for his blanket refusal to consider the needs of the nation and the brute force tactics he uses to advance the GOP’s priorities.

At the age of 80, McConnell, dubbed “the old crow” by Donald Trump, is standing his ground against the former president. In an interview last week with The New York Times, the minority leader announced his recent trip to Ukraine and how he is dissuading the GOP from its isolationist stance. He boasted that only 11 GOP senators voted against aid to Ukraine and hailed Senator Ted Cruz as “brave” in breaking with the far right and backing the aid package.

Say what you will about his ethics and values, but he is a political survivor and a master tactician. Is there anything that can stop McConnell?

“The threat to his legacy is Trump,” says Jim Kessler, a longtime Capitol Hill veteran who is now a member of the moderate Democratic group Third Way. “He must strengthen his caucus” with loyalists who will keep him in power.

McConnell’s leadership is secure for now, but he’s on Trump’s vendetta list.

“If Trump is the nominee, he will depose McConnell as leader, and that’s for sure,” Kessler said. “The question in 2024, are they kicking him out because of Trump? I’m sure he’s obsessed with it, and if he’s not, he’s not as smart as I think he is. [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy came back on board [after criticizing Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection] and Trump forgave him. There is no turning back for McConnell.”

a new book, Betrayal: How Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans left Americadescribes key moments when McConnell placed personal ambition and partisanship above the country to wreak the lasting damage that could yet doom him.

Author, Ira Shapiro, sets the scene, a dreary, rainy, cold day, January 9, 2009, when McConnell gathers his faction to plan a strategy. His mood is low, not because of the weather, but because the new president, not yet in office, has a high approval rating. McConnell had to trip him up. “His goal, which he clearly stated, was for Obama to fail, and he was unconcerned about the impact his obstructionism would have on actual Americans, including those living in his home state of Kentucky.”

At that moment, Shapiro said, McConnell gave up the traditional role of a Senate leader working to bridge partisan divisions and became clearly an opposition leader. “He immediately began to transform a Senate struggling unsuccessfully to rise above the polarization of American politics into a bitterly partisan, paralyzed Senate in which no effort was made to heal divisions,” writes Shapiro. Where former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared “politics is war,” McConnell hailed “victory at any cost” to become the Senate’s “architect of division,” doing everything to create tension, not legislation .

About the title of his book Treason, Shapiro says he did not choose the term lightly to describe McConnell and the meeting he chairs. “We’ve had an unhinged president during a pandemic, a president who made it clear that he would not accept loss [in the 2020 election]- and what do you do? They are rising from their torpor to confirm Amy Coney Barrett a week before the election.”

McConnell broke Senate norms to install three Supreme Court justices, first eliminating the nominee filibuster, then keeping the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat open and even denying President Obama’s nominee a hearing because it was too close the 2016 elections. Then, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020, McConnell set a new rule and got Comey Barrett’s endorsement, claiming it was fine for the party in power to control the White House and Senate.

“His legacy was safe. Very few people, including presidents, have ever left a greater stamp on our country,” writes Shapiro. “What McConnell lacked was a moral compass that would lead him to rise above political calculation.”

“With yet another school shooting leaving the nation saddened and sickened over young children blown to pieces by an assault weapon no civilian should have, will McConnell once again choose the path that sides with the gunmakers and the absolutists of the Second Amendment?”

McConnell underestimated Trump’s depravity (Shapiro’s word) and thought that the defeated president would go away on his own after the election. He saw no harm in amusing Trump as he spread what became known as the big lie that his election had been stolen. McConnell took five weeks after the November election before congratulating Joe Biden, a man he had served with and known for 35 years, on his victory.

On the morning of January 6, McConnell spoke in the Senate. He said the election wasn’t particularly close, strong words for a Republican, and warned of the danger posed by Trump. “If this election were to be nullified by mere claims from the losing side, our democracy would be caught in a death spiral. We would never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a struggle for power at any cost.”

Fine words, but when they were spoken, about 70 percent of the 74 million who voted for Trump thought the election had been stolen. That’s 50 million people.

Later that day, participants in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally stormed the US Capitol. A visibly shaken McConnell called it “a failed uprising,” and Democrats sought to impeach Trump. McConnell then struck his classic two-faced Janus pose, criticizing the House for rushing the impeachment process while delaying a date for a Senate trial that would not begin until Trump was out of office.

On the final day of Trump’s second Senate trial, Feb. 13, McConnell delivered a speech that rivaled anything a Democrat had said in his condemnation of the former president. He called Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and declared Trump “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

Fine words, but before voicing them in the Senate, McConnell voted to acquit Trump on narrow, fabricated procedural grounds that his conduct was “contentious” because a former president cannot be constitutionally convicted. McConnell had refused to accept the House’s only impeachment article while Trump was still in office, then turned around and said you can’t impeach and remove a former president. McConnell’s duplicity saved Trump, though he earned the former president’s enduring enmity.

McConnell was the only Republican senator to attend Beau Biden’s funeral in 2015, “an honor to him and an embarrassment to the other Senate Republicans, many of whom should have been there,” writes Shapiro. But despite her personal history and the country’s mounting problems, “You cannot allow Biden to succeed, regardless of America’s needs. In that fundamental sense, McConnell viewed President Biden in 2021 the same way he viewed President Obama in 2009.”

Democratic holdouts in a 50-50 Senate saved McConnell from shouldering the blame for Biden’s faltering agenda, but he helped orchestrate his party’s 47-3 opposition to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. With her certainty, it would have been easy to celebrate and uplift her as the first black female justice. Instead, McConnell vilified her as a radical left candidate. “If there’s a chance to bring the country together, he never takes it,” Shapiro says.

With yet another school shooting leaving the nation saddened and sickened over young children blown to pieces by an assault weapon no civilian should have, will McConnell once again choose the path that sides with the gunmakers and the absolutists of the Second Amendment?

So far he has benefited from the division he helped build. But one thing is certain: given the choice between doing what is right for the country or doing what is good for oneself, the old crow puts America second. Mitch McConnell never puts America first


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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