Mitch McConnell is booed, and drowned out by chants of “retire, retire, retire”, for five minutes straight as he tries to talk to his own constituents in Kentucky. pic.twitter.com/zyZIHLJaoy
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) August 7, 2023
Because the modern GOP Death Cult is never happy unless it’s eating its own, some misfortunate ‘leader’ was bound to be targeted as the one non-Demoncrat individual responsible for Trump’s various indictments. The choice of Mitch McConnell as the scapegoat is neither surprising nor particularly saddening…
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is “plagued by worsening hearing loss” and his colleagues have become concerned about his health, according to Politico. https://t.co/T0KYmvA4gc
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 14, 2023
NEW: I spent a good bit of time this summer on McConnell’s last big campaign, the only way he’s confronting Trumpism: by trying to keep his party away from isolationism
On the inside game, from Helsinki and Munich to DC and Fancy Farm >https://t.co/f8gSPraWgJ
— Jonathan Martin (@jmart) August 14, 2023
Wheeling out the big journamalistic guns, even in advance of the Georgia indictments:
Mitch McConnell has made it his practice to dodge questions about Donald Trump. Whether it be Trump’s bid to reclaim office, the mounting indictments leveled against the former president or even Trump’s racist mockery of McConnell’s wife, the Senate Republican leader avoids engaging a man he disdains.
Which is why it was so striking last month to sit in McConnell’s Capitol office and have him repeatedly steer our conversation toward Trump. I was there to discuss his forceful and out-of-vogue campaign to keep Republicans defending Ukraine and, more broadly, on the Reaganite path of projecting strength abroad. And at every turn, McConnell made plain it was his way of battling what Trump has done to the party…
From the Senate floor and Washington fundraisers to awards banquets and congressional delegation trips overseas, Addison Mitchell McConnell is on what could be his final political mission. And the results may illuminate what has become of his party.
After a relatively harmonious first half of this year, House and Senate Republicans are on a collision course this fall over four issues, three of which pertain to McConnell’s quest: spending, supporting the Ukrainians and Trump’s candidacy. (The fourth is impeaching President Joe Biden, which is intended as retribution for Trump’s impeachment over, well, spending and Ukraine.)
This confluence of issues will test who has the upper hand in the GOP, at least in the halls of Congress. Is it the McConnell-led Senate, which largely wants to spend more on defense, deliver additional aid to Ukraine and is not exactly enthused about Trump’s resurrection? Or is it the House, where Speaker Kevin McCarthy is handcuffed to his party’s hardliners on spending and has little appetite to imperil his job by pushing through a supplemental package for Ukraine that Trump is sure to decry and perhaps pressure rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose amid demands that they, and McCarthy, endorse him?…
… [A]s somebody who’s covered McConnell for years, it’s jarring to see his decline. He told me at the end of our interview that, yes, he would be at the Fancy Farm picnic this month. The gathering is Kentucky’s annual political bacchanal, a 142-year-old church barbeque fundraiser in which pigs, lambs and politicians are all roasted in their own way to please an audience that descends by the thousands the first Saturday in August to a hamlet that’s anything but fancy.
Sure enough, there was McConnell, in his first major public appearance since his freeze-up, on stage gamely getting off zingers at Biden, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and other Democrats.
Yet his voice was diminished, he mostly read his lines without looking up and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, had to help him up from his chair each time he stood…
As I reported this column over the summer, speaking to dozens of officials in European capitals and Washington, two recurring themes emerged.
One was the degree of McConnell’s focus, to borrow what may be his favorite word and practice. In public and private, he’s waging a determined campaign to defend Ukraine, protect NATO and bequeath a Republican Party that’s as committed to what he calls “peace through strength” as the one he found in Washington after he was elected to the Senate in 1984 thanks in part to Ronald Reagan’s landslide reelection…
However, in many of my conversations, and usually not for attribution, another theme came up: how much McConnell has aged. Unlike with Biden, whose every gaffe and slip on the steps is caught on camera, McConnell’s difficulties have been largely out of view, or at least they were until late last month. In private, though, McConnell’s colleagues have grown more alarmed, with one lawmaker even talking to the leader’s staff about whether he should consider hearing implants.
“He was sitting there as the conversation went on around him,” said an attendee of a recent Senate Republican lunch, alluding to McConnell’s hearing loss.
This convergence of mission and moment — McConnell in the winter of his career attempting to thwart Trumpist isolationism — may have been less crucial had the leader shown more leadership in the last days and immediate aftermath of the former president’s term. McConnell’s assessment late on the night of Jan 6 that, with his conduct that day, Trump had “put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger” has proven wildly wrong or at least wholly dependent on the whims of a federal jury.
The party’s drift on foreign policy wouldn’t have been reversed, but Trump would not have the same authority on this, or any, issue had McConnell sought 10 more Senate Republicans to convict the former president of his second impeachment and barred him from seeking office again. He said at the time that he was convinced by constitutional arguments about impeaching a president no longer in office, but clearly his caucus’s lack of appetite for conviction weighed on him…
McConnell, ever cautious about turning himself into a lame duck, usually sniffs out and dismisses rearview-facing questions about his legacy. However, the man who set up his Senate institute and archives the year after his first reelection has long been consumed by history — and his place in it.
And at a time when he and his inner circle are all sitting down with and turning over old files to AP’s Michael Tackett, who’s writing a comprehensive McConnell biography, the leader was remarkably candid when I asked where his current crusade rates to him over the arc of his career.
“Well, I still believe in the Republican party of Ronald Reagan,” McConnell said…
GOP colleagues: A sad loss to us all… as long as he’s really dead.
The thing one has to remember is that @jmart is Republican. His family is all Republicans. He started out, among other things, as Mark Earley’s driver. There’s a personal need to build in coherence and sanity where there isn’t any. McConnell has failed at containing Trump.
— Clean Observer (@Hammbear2024) August 14, 2023
New in Huddle: The House GOP's right flank is pushing back over recent comments from McConnell, who said impeachments should be "rare" and frequent impeachments were "not good for the country" https://t.co/p2o6sQWoHk
— Jordain Carney (@jordainc) August 14, 2023
Kill the traitor! Kill!
… After The New York Times recently resurfaced his response, which was quickly picked up by conservative media, several members of the House’s right flank took the opportunity to chide the Senate GOP leader as too cautious, or even too protective of a president he’s occasionally cut deals with.
What McConnell really said: When our bureau chief Burgess Everett asked whether a House inquiry into Biden had any merit, McConnell said that a constant flow of impeachment probes isn’t “good for the country.”
The Senate Republican leader also pointed a finger at Democrats for setting Congress down the path of normalizing impeachments, adding that he was “not surprised” to see the House GOP open the door on Biden after former President Donald Trump’s impeachments.
But the new media attention was fueled by his comments that trying to oust a president should be “rare” and that an impeachment competition wasn’t good for America — not his blame of Democrats. So conservatives hit back…