Here in the new millennium, two district species of Americans have evolved. There are the Americans who, from many years of having it demonstrated to them, know Sen. Mitch McConnell to be dishonest, power-obsessed, and eager to sabotage both nation itself and the lives of its citizens in service of Republican Party power.
And then there’s the press, which cannot stomach the thought that the most powerful political figure of recent times is singularly corrupt and dishonest, a man who through relentlessly false claims and rhetorical psychopathies worked diligently to turn the Senate into little more than an exceptionally pompous Fox News show.
On Saturday, Sen. Mitch McConnell gave a rousing speech blasting Donald Trump for a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” among other offenses, agreeing that there was “no question, none,” that Trump is “practically and morally responsible” for an insurrection attempt that killed a police officer, injured around 140 others, caused multiple other deaths, and came close to capturing or killing Trump’s own vice president and others specifically targeted by Trump as political enemies. As is rote for all McConnell speeches, as anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the body knows, it came immediately after McConnell voted to himself sabotage action against Trump—a sabotage that was deliberate, had taken place over the course of many weeks, and could likely not have succeeded if it were not for McConnell’s own dereliction.
McConnell’s argument was that a former president cannot be impeached—a theory deemed nonsensical by historians, scholars, and other experts not accessories to Trump’s modern fascist movement, and one that the Senate had already explicitly rejected. McConnell’s argument was that Democrats—because every single speech in which McConnell defends his party’s embrace of a new corrupt, counterfactual, or plainly malevolent act comes with an explanation that Democrats caused it to happen—did not move swiftly enough to impeach Trump after the January 6 insurrection, allowed Trump to leave office, and now his party’s bloodstained hands are tied.
But it was McConnell who blocked action while Trump was in office. It was McConnell who refused to call the Senate back to conduct the trial, and who justified the refusal by calling the House’s impeachment a “light-speed sham process.” Once he had lost the majority and with it, the powers to control the Senate clock, McConnell voted at every turn to block the Senate from hearing the case against Trump. It is McConnell himself inventing yet another New Rule that he now claims stands in the way of impeaching a Republican for violent insurrection; it comes after countless similar New Rules about the Constitution and the Senate that McConnell claimed to have discovered, both small and large.
McConnell declared that a sitting Democratic president could not appoint new Supreme Court justices during the last full year of his term; McConnell declared that a sitting Republican president could do so during his last weeks in office. It is all a farce. We have been here a dozen times before.
McConnell agrees that Trump was responsible for a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. But he did so too close to the end of his term, and so falls into a new loophole in which presidents are allowed to sit back and watch as a mob hunts his enemies in the U.S. Capitol so long as he gets the timing right.
Like the apocryphal man who murdered his parents, then begged the courts for leniency because he was an orphan, McConnell protected Trump through his last weeks in office, and now says that the delay he himself engineered now prevents the Senate from imposing consequences. Trump is culpable, he is fully willing to declare.
And with that declaration, McConnell singled himself out as willing collaborator.
This is the part of the well-worn program where Sen. Mitch McConnell knows a member of his party has done an unforgivable and evil thing, and thus prepares his dual defenses. To preserve party power and cultivate a base that has grown ever more willing to accept any crime in service to their cause, McConnell maneuvers to sabotage whatever accountability is being attempted. To preserve the money flow from donors horrified that the party would go so far—but who still count tax breaks and corporate deregulation as more urgent needs than flushing out white supremacist-laced, propaganda-fueled fascism—McConnell seeds stories about his personal frustration with the behavior, assures the donor class that he is absolutely not on board with the new horror he himself worked to protect.
It seems when a violent mob comes close to assassinating Sen. Mitch McConnell personally, that will be enough to stir an actual condemnation directly from the man himself. But it will still not, once the heat of the moment has died down and the mob has been dispersed, rouse him to support his country over his party. It is seemingly not in his nature, or in the nature of anyone left in his now-purged party.