Moscow Mitch McConnell emerged from his shell in Kentucky on Monday to talk to the Federalist Society, aka his base, and at the University of Kentucky, where he complained that impeachment was keeping him from working on opioids in the Senate.
“My motto for the rest of the year is: Leave no vacancy behind,” McConnell told the Federalist Society, the entity he relies on to find the most archconservative of candidates to remake the judiciary. McConnell made no bones about the fact that he’s cramming the courts with the most conservative activist judges and that that’s all he intends to do. “Why? It’s pretty obvious—lifetime appointments,” he said. “If you want to have an impact on the country, there are not many things that we do that can’t be undone by the next election. […] But there’s not much you can do about a young, strict constructionist who’s committed for a lifetime to the quaint notion that maybe the job of a judge is to follow the law.” That would be the law as established at the founding, during slavery, and when only white male landowners had the vote.
That was his message to the Federalist Society—all judges all the time, and nothing else. When he was at the university, however, it was a different story. He was there to deliver largess, $87 million in a federal grant awarded to research aimed at reducing opioid deaths in the state. He told the university community that that’s why he’s in this job (which would be news to the Federalist Society). “The opportunity to advance causes like this is the kind of thing that gives my colleagues and I enormous job satisfaction,” McConnell said, then suggested that he didn’t get to do enough of it because of “distractions” like impeachment. “But if you sort of keep your head on straight and remember why you were sent there (to Washington), there are opportunities to do important things for the country and for the states that we represent.”
There are three House bills that have passed that further address the opioid crisis and expand affordable health care—including substance abuse help—that McConnell will not bring to the Senate floor. Because he’s not there to do important things for the country; he’s there to keep Democrats from achieving anything. And he’s happy to allow people to die in the process, whether from opioids or gun violence or lack of access to health care. As long as he gets those judges.