It’s been a bad, bad, bad summer for Mitch McConnell. From the shifting Senate map to the pandemic closing in on his state to the president who has no idea how to make America great again or even just keep Americans from dying, the majority leader who once held all the cards now looks like he’s just bluffing.
A wise man told us that everything Trump touches dies, but until these last few months Cocaine Mitch has seemed like the undead exception that proved the rule. Now, the ETTD curse is finally having its inevitable effect on the Turtle, who’s been the architect of the structures that have enabled Donald J. Trump for the last three years and one-hundred-and-ninety-eight days but who’s counting?
The cruel and bumbling moron in the White House couldn’t have inflicted so much damage on America without the steely support of the majority leader who kept him there and delivered a swift impeachment acquittal, despite his criming first with Russia (are you listening?), and then Ukraine.
Before Trump arrived, it was McConnell who denied Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, so much as even a hearing. “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ’Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy,’” he later boasted, after Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch stole Garland’s seat.
But if you live by Trump, you die by Trump, and that appears to be where McConnell and his majority are headed. The GOP can’t seem to find a way to replace the now-expired $600 enhanced unemployment checks—about the only thing that stood between much of the country and complete economic collapse—in large part because Trump bizarrely insisted that any new support for Americans come along with $1.8 billion for a new FBI building. Even Mitch had to admit that was “non-germane” here, but it’s a Trump obsession because the new building is across from his DC hotel. Sure, that’s obscene and immoral but it’s also an insanely self-destructive political move in an election year.
Which takes us to the 2020 Senate map and Mitch’s increasingly endangered majority. Trump, who’s getting pummeled in the polls, is hardly the gracious president who will go quietly into that good night for the sake of the Republican party he only rejoined to prepare for his presidential run. There’s a reason that Democrats in competitive races are using their TV time to tie Republican incumbents to Trump and that Republicans are doing what they can—which ain’t much—to create a little daylight with Trump, but not enough to end up on the receiving end of an angry tweet.
That’s why the word finally came down last week that McConnell had signaled to Republican senators that they could “distance from Trump if necessary.” It’s hard to imagine him doing so out of anything but the most dire necessity. All it took was 158,000 deaths and countless others whose health may never be the same.
Mitch McConnell used the Republican dark arts to screw Democrats over at every single point and now the tide has turned. Trump has done the impossible, making Senate seats like Montana, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, and maybe even Alaska competitive.
Trump’s unpopularity, and McConnell’s complicity, have even forced Cocaine Mitch to pour millions into his own re-election bid for what may be a diminished return, as majority leader no longer, and I for one love to see it.