I can tell you exactly when I think Mitch McConnell lost any chance of getting out of this whole impeachment scandal unscathed. And it might surprise you to find that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
Mitch McConnell has always had the reputation as a back room dealing, sneaky, underhanded son of a bitch. Any deal cut with Mitch McConnell benefited Mitch McConnell first and most, and McConnell was not shy in finding ways to weasel out of deals that he later found unpalatable.
As the Senate Minority leader, McConnell settled on a formula of sweet talk, promises, threats, and retaliation that worked to keep his caucus under his thumb. People just didn’t want to fuck with McConnell, it wasn’t worth the scars. Amd when McConnell rose to become the Senate Majority Leader, his power over his caucus became pretty much absolute.
Mitch McConnell lost his soul, and with it any chance of effectively dealing with the Trump impeachment crisis in 2016. He lost it over a Supreme Court nomination for Merrick Garland. His blatant abuse of his power and authority in refusing to even allow meetings with HOP Senators for Garland, much less allowing a committee hearing and an open floor vote for a qualified, properly nominated candidate enraged the political structure of Washington DC. It also told Mitch McConnell that there was pretty much nothing that he couldn’t do, if he didn’t mind taking a little heat for it.
So it’s only natural that a politician already as corrupted by his power as McConnell would be as happy as a pig in slop to have a president equally as corrupted by power. Especially since, taking into account Trump’s rather banal stupidity, McConnell thought that he could be the driving force in the partnership. But Trump’s arrogance and rancor proved to be even greater than McConnell’s, and Trump had more clout, so now McConnell is cast as the subservient one in the relationship.
Which brings us to Moscow Mitch’s current dilemma. He just released his proposed rules for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, and they’re a nightmare. Not just for the Democrats, but for the American people, as well as many vulnerable GOP Senators up for reelection. Trump’s arrogance in requiring an immediate and complete absolution, as opposed to simply not being removed from office has forced McConnell into an obvious miscarriage of justice, and forced a power play that didn’t need to happen.
Look, this was never about removing Trump from office. There aren’t 67 votes to do it, and there never were. All Mitch McConnell had to do was to allow the Democrats to hold their show trial, under normal rules and procedures, with a few bets hedged of course, and let the Senate vote to acquit Trump. Just like in the Clinton trial, allow a full and fair hearing, and let the votes fall right where you always knew that they would. Safe, clean, and simple.
But Trump’s arrogant refusal to allow anything to come out that portrays him as anything less than a god among mortals, coupled with McConnell’s craven capitulation on insisting that His Lowness had done nothing wrong, along with admitting in advance that he was willing to rig the process has now led McConnell to the edge of the Rubicon. his mouth wrote those checks, and now his ass has to cash them. Any chance of a quiet, pastoral, predetermined, dignified proceeding is gone. And the stage is set.
The next couple of days are going to be a wild ride. Trying to get a United States Senator to sit quietly for five minutes is a stretch, from 1-6 PM every day would be Herculean. But McConnell is proposing to keep them tied to their chairs for 12 hours a day, every day, with limited breaks, and no candy crush on their phones for distraction. And the really funny thing is that it won’t work! The object is to set things up so that the Democratic case managers present their most devastating evidence in the dead of night, when nobody is watching. But they already tried that in the House, and Jerry Nadler neatly sidestepped around them. All the cagey Democratic prosecutors have to do is to keep presenting their most damning evidence over and over again during prime time, and then toss out bulk filler in the hours where nobody is watching.
Which brings us to the next problem with this little farrago, which is Trump’s defense. If the Democrats are going to have 24 hours spread out to present their case, then the President’s defense team has to have 24 hours as well. The Democrats shipped over 104 pages of filings laying out the groundwork of their case. Trump’s legal beagles sent over a lousy 6 pages. Face it, the Trump defense team doesn’t have enough material to fill a 2 hour Geraldo Rivera special, even if he does blow open Capone’s vault again. But Trump is going to insist that they use every second of their 24 hours tio clear his shoddy name. Forget boring the Senators, all Trumjp’s defense effort is going to do is to show time and time again in prime time viewing how shoddy, incompetent, and pathetic his entire defense is.
And we haven’t even touched on the sins of the damned that McConnell is going to suffer if and when enough rebellious GOP Senators join the Democrats in insisting on witnesses being called, and documents produced. That banshee specter is enough for an article all of its own.
Mitch McConnell doesn’t have his paw caught in a bear trap, his nuts are caught in a vise. And if you want to throw some kudos around for that, then throw them at Nancy Pelosi. Her brilliant end run in holding up the articles of impeachment, and hammering home the risk of a sham trial got public opinion on her side, and forced mental midgets like Trump, McConnell, Leningrad Lindsey, and John “Aw, shucks” Kennedy to display their inherent bias. Their constituents want a fair trial, and there will be hell to pay if they don’t get one.
Mitch McConnell has painted himself into a corner. This has now devolved into a battle of wills between McConnell and his own vulnerable caucus. If the GOP caucus defies McConnell enough times on floor votes to turn this trial into a political nightmare, then McConnell is toast, he’s lost both power and control over his caucus. And even if he holds the caucus together and gets his sham trial, he may still lose. A sham trial could quite likely cost the GOP the Senate in November, and if that happens, then McConnell will almost certainly be challenged for Minority Leader next January, assuming he survives his own reelection bid, which may well also be in question.
Mitch McConnell made a deal with the devil and the check just came due. But he actually sold his soul the year before Trump even showed up. And wouldn’t it be ironically fitting if McConnell’s proudest moment of legislative treachery ended up being the thing that cost him the power he had worked so hard to obtain? Don’t touch that dial.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen