Mitch McConnell, Suuuuuuuper Genius

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 December 17, 2017|
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Many of my former colleagues, still slaving away on Capitol Hill, insist that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is really a genius and we’re all lucky to have him as majority leader.

McConnell is a real mover-and-shaker, my friends say. He employs classic Machiavellian maneuvers—and is in possession of a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about Senate rules—to shepherd desired legislation through the clogged pipes of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. When in front of the camera, however, McConnell deviously exudes the charisma of the friendly old man up the road, whose unassuming manner immediately puts one at ease, and makes you want to share your life’s story over a glass of cool lemonade on a hot Kentucky day.

Or so they argue. I haven’t actually met anyone outside their circles desirous of lemonade on a hot day in Kentucky or anywhere else. But legends die hard on Capitol Hill, it seems, and so do fairy tales.

If McConnell is such a serious power player—a real leader of strategic forethought and decisiveness—how come his legislative agenda is stalled and his party is losing? Like an idiot savant who knows many details of one, specific subject (but is unaware of his overall imbecility), McConnell keeps plugging ahead in politics, achieving many stated and very small objectives, but all of them seem unrelated to any discernible strategy for Republicans. From the outside, it sure looks like his job is to lose.

Thinking Small for Decades
McConnell has been in elected office since the 1970s. Before that, he worked for other politicians in Washington. Although he may be from Kentucky, he is as much a creature of Washington, D.C. as Hillary Clinton. Now, I would be willing to overlook these shortcomings if McConnell was even somewhat capable (or willing) to pass the agenda that I wanted him to. But he hasn’t passed the agenda that most Trump voters support. He can’t. He won’t.

What has McConnell done to so earn his reputation as a steely, effective insider and a rock-ribbed conservative? In asking this question, we may discover the uselessness of the term “conservative.” It means too many different things to different people. Applied to a politician like McConnell, the term encompasses almost none of the policy positions Trump voters like me would advance. McConnell represents yesterday’s policies and priorities, serving the interests of a donor class that is unaware, even, of what best serves their own long-term interests. They think small.

Here is an elected official who categorically represents the interests of big corporations at the expense of the common voter. McConnell shifts with the wind—and the wind in D.C. is always blowing leftward. Unsurprisingly, McConnell is a former lobbyist whose wife seems to have a permanent, recurring role in Republican administrations—regardless of her qualifications (other than being the Senate majority leader’s wife). Corporatism, cowardice, and cronyism—McConnell is the embodiment of strong leadership, eh?

It’s strange. Now that McConnell has a friendly audience in the White House (and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress), he seems even less capable of implementing legislation than he was during the Obama era!

Most recently, McConnell was behind the political (and character) assassination of his fellow Republican, Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. Moore had an excellent chance of winning, if not for McConnell’s efforts to undercut him. Moore’s defeat leaves Republicans with a slim, one-seat majority in the Senate, which could severely hinder the Trump legislative agenda in 2018.

Who’s Serving Whom?
There was a time when a party elder such as McConnell would have focused only on preserving his majority, leaving gossip and rumors to the press. Clearly, those times are over (not so for the Democrats, though, who’ve yet to force Al Franken to actually resign).

Of course, we know the real reason why McConnell and his fellow establishment Republicans destroyed Roy Moore. The former state supreme court justice did not share the elite Republicans’ proclivities or worldview, and he actually promised to work to help implement the agenda Donald Trump campaigned on in 2016. Unlike McConnell, the Roy Moore-type Republican will not serve corporate masters; they will serve the will of the people. Moore was too much like Trump—a wildcard. That is a threat to Mitch McConnell.

When Trump was elected, it was clear that McConnell and the other lifers in the Republican establishment felt the change represented a dire threat to their way of doing business. Trump and his supporters had busted up the elite’s cushy club in Washington, D.C. Anyone who has ever been a part of an exclusive organization knows that when you let one upstart in, the proverbial floodgates are opened. Roy Moore and others like him were the flood. Mitch McConnell became the dam.

This gets us back to the Machiavellian McConnell we keep hearing about. When the GOP won the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections, McConnell and other Republican elites told voters that they could not implement any conservative legislation until they also got the Senate. By 2016, the GOP was given that (and more). Yet, the Republicans keep losing.

Why didn’t McConnell, the political genius, have a retinue of legislation ready for Trump’s signature the day the 45th president was sworn into office? What we’ve seen instead is a series of mostly failed, rushed pieces of legislation coupled with inattentive and feckless congressional leadership. Maybe McConnell wants Trump to fail. But, even with the pending tax bill, what should have been an easy win has been fraught with uncertainty and missed opportunities.

McConnell is presiding over a dying party—and he is one of the main causes of that slow, painful death. The majority leader’s actions are not the work of a mad genius; they’re the work of a corrupt stooge desperately clinging to fame and power. If he wanted to do a true service to his country, he’d leave the Senate and clear the way for fresh new leadership. But service appears to be low on McConnell’s list of priorities. So much for genius.

About the Author:

Brandon J. Weichert
Brandon J. Weichert is a contributing editor to American Greatness. A former Republican congressional staffer and national security expert, he also runs "The Weichert Report" (www.theweichertreport.com), an online journal of geopolitics. He holds master's degree in statecraft and national security from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. He is also an associate member of New College at Oxford University and holds a B.A. in political science from DePaul University. He is currently completing a book on national security space policy due out next year.
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14 Comments

  1. jack dobson December 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Republicans who were in D.C. prior to the 1994 Gingrich Revolution forever will suffer Stockholm Syndrome. Fifty years of Democratic rule and subservience to them made these Republicans essentially worthless. As you note, many just became corrupt corporatists and cashed out. The sooner the GOP rids itself of the likes of McConnell and Establishment Republicans–and it is happening, albeit too slowly–the faster it can act like a governing party. Or, as you again pointed out, it can die.

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  2. Peta Johnson December 18, 2017 at 4:23 am

    “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed is the king.” Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove prove the validity of this proverb everyday.

  3. Joel Mathis December 18, 2017 at 5:08 am

    “If McConnell is such a serious power player—a real leader of strategic forethought and decisiveness—how come his legislative agenda is stalled and his party is losing?”

    Because his job is less like being a dictator and more like herding cats, including cats named McCain,Corker, and Collins?

    • Joel Mathis December 18, 2017 at 5:11 am

      “Of course, we know the real reason why McConnell and his fellow establishment Republicans destroyed Roy Moore.”

      Somehow, “credibly accused of pursuing underaged women” is not even contemplated in the paragraph that follows. Conspiratorial thinking is easier!

      • Joel Mathis December 18, 2017 at 5:12 am

        I have no brief for McConnell. His tactics are more suited to guerilla opposition than governance. He’s a master obstructor. It’s just that Brandon’s critique is wrong.

  4. SmartProf December 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

    McConnell is a super genius at maintaining his own power.
    And to most politicians, THAT is the prime measure of success.
    Passing actual legislation is secondary.

  5. Mr. Covfefe December 18, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Don’t blame McConnell, he is what he is, blame the Gumps in KY who reelected the swamp turtle in 2014. They had a perfectly good primary challenger and they chose the anti-American globalist instead. The same can be said for the Gumps in AZ with McCain, the Gumps in SC with Graham and the Gumps in TN with Alexander. Don’t blame the swamp creatures for wanting to go back to their cozy swamp, blame the people who had the power to stop them but CHOSE not to.

  6. Uncle Max December 18, 2017 at 10:03 am

    A fair overview of a DC insider. McConnell relishes being in the minority and is poorly suited in the Majority. Instead of “forcing” issues, he dithers.. EXCEPT in one regard: Judges. I have to give him and Grassley some credit for the ONE area they are doing what needs to be done to seat judges. I’ll take that since it will pay dividends for a long time. We may have to wait for McConnell to die ( I doubt we’ll get him out any other way ) for change, and by then, several of the other old lions of the Senate GOP from the 70’s and 80’s will be gone too. ( Dem side too).

  7. Andy December 18, 2017 at 10:57 am

    After looking at the GOP tax plan and hearing Trump’s unabashed support, it seems clear to me that either:

    1. McConnell and Ryan have convinced Trump that it represents the populism that got Trump elected (meaning Trump has no idea what populism actually means.)
    2. McConnell and Ryan have convinced Trump that it will make him so rich that he felt compelled to abandon his populist ideals (meaning Trump values money over populism.)
    3. Trump never really cared about the “forgotten man” to begin with and is a huge liar.

    None of these options seem to go along with the overarching message of this site, one wonders if/how the writers will react when Trump is revealed for the craven con-man that he really is.

    • Smokey December 27, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Ummm-m… No.

  8. Peter63 December 18, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I am so grateful to you, Mr Weichert, for pointing out something which gets said FAR TOO LITTLE.
    The Establishment politicians’ donors (at least, on the Republican side of the aisle) are involved in an enterprise which is utterly self-defeating.
    Wall Street, the banks, the Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley billionaires et hoc genus omne are digging their own graves and working to fill them with very painful deaths. They are awe-inspiringly stupid, driven and blinded by their greed. They toil night and day for mass immigration ‘justified’ by the lunatic doctrines of Multiculturalism (all cultures are equal, all are benign [Oh yes: just look at ISIS], all can live together harmoniously in any one country); and they run America on behalf of their short-term thinking, their self-feathering crony corporatism – hence globalisation, supranational government, trade treaties which are ruinous for the democracies with developed economies. These measures mean that in the middle-term there will be far-left governments in all such with nearly every one of the multitude of Third-World immigrants voting that way; and how do you suppose commerce will fare under such regimes’ itch for ultra-taxing ultra-regulating rule? (Think Brazil if we be lucky, Venezuela if not.)
    Once the USA is completely ruined as a superpower, descends into poverty and chaos, what force on Earth will be protecting their human rights? New Zealand? The New Zealanders mean well but they haven’t got the clout. China will rule by default; and how much does President-(soon)-for-life Xi care about that?
    In the middle term – now not at all far off – turning the USA, in the longer term turning the world, into a bigger version of Brazil will mean that the most ruthless gangsters from the barrios will come out politically on top, expropriate the wealth of the very rich and (in most cases) murder them; certainly turn them onto the streets with nothing but what they stand up in (perhaps their underwear). The gangsters’ teams will also be busily torturing and murdering lots of ordinary folk.
    Meanwhile, coming up on the inside track, will be the burgeoning success of Islam-on-the-warpath achieved by the very realistic and competent military strategy of cowing society by constant acts of terror into accepting Muslim law and rules on EVERYTHING. And what kind of joyous lifestyle will the donors and their families have then?

    None of this is guesswork. All they need to do is read the history books.
    Big commercial interests made practically the same mistake when they talked President Hindenburg into co-opting Adolf Hitler into the German cabinet in 1932/3. They thought to rule through him. Big error. The gangster brought in to crush the unions and end the opposing political warfare on the streets almost immediately occupied their bosses’ chair at the office. He absolutely ruled them.
    For the very cogent military strategy Islamic Jihad is currently pursuing, observe the success of the men of violence (Protestant UDF and Catholic IRA) in N. Ireland 1966-1999. At the end of that period, the moderate sectarian parties were effectually water under the bridge; and the government of that province was handed over to the successful warriors who now rule in Stormont.

  9. ChowFaahnHound December 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    What’s new? What is funny, is that the term “turtlehead”, lately applied to this man, has an equivalent term in Chinese, which also means “The head that men think with most of their lives”.

  10. USInfidelPorkEater December 20, 2017 at 6:18 am

    “We the common people” are being sandbagged by the whole bunch in the District of Corruption. If you have ever really thought about it, this country has had over 200 years to implement a government for the people and has NOT and from the looks of the level of corruption today, NEVER will.

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