McConnell’s Lame Legacy


Ex-President Donald Trump is renowned for unpaid legal bills and stiffing contractors. But he has taken on his own kind, referring to influential Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell a “broken down crow” and a “dumb son-of-a-bitch.”

McConnell is not dumb. He is the longest serving party leader in U.S. Senate history, has represented Kentucky in the Senate for 40 years, and responsible for confirming three Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.

McConnell, 82, is giving up his leadership duties at year’s end but will stay in the Senate. Trump cost Republicans their Senate majority in 2020 when the Democrats flipped both Georgia seats. The Rs, burdened by the Supremes’ abortion decision, failed to regain control in 2022 despite all those “red wave” predictions.

Yet, despite the ridicule he’s received — and the fact that he privately detests Trump — McConnell has stayed with the 45th president. He has not only endorsed Trump’s comeback bid but can be described as Trump’s enabler.

McConnell was there for Trump when the House of Representatives in 2019 passed its first impeachment resolution. He moved to shut down the Senate trial almost before it began and defended Trump, saying: “I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There’s not anything judicial about it.” The Senate Republicans’ leadership, in McConnell’s words, was in “total coordination with the White House counsel’s office.”

In the fall of 2020, as Americans prepared to elect their President, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last. After the death of Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia, McConnell had refused to so much as hold a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of federal appellate judge (now Attorney General) Merrick Garland to fill Nino’s seat. The seat was held vacant as political catnip for evangelical voters.

In 2020, however, with Republicans still holding a 52-48 majority, McConnell rushed through confirmation of Justice Amy Comey Barrett in just over a month’s time. It gave Trump his third Supreme Court appointment and a two-to-one rightist majority on the high court. A lavish reception in the White House rose garden sent numerous celebrants away with the Covid virus.

Remaking the federal courts was Trump’s signature demand in lining up religious right support. The court has taken onto itself quasi-legislative duties and disdained precedent, thereby acting to end affirmative action in college admissions, rolling back federal authority under the Clean Water Act, and eviscerating a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

McConnell had an opportunity to play statesman. An institutionalist, he was visibly outraged and shaken at the Trump-inspired mob violence of January 6, 2021. The senator’s wife Elaine Chao quit her job as U.S. Secretary of Transportation in wake of the insurrection. McConnell took to the Senate floor, and for once was not droning and boring. “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically, and morally, responsible for promoting the events of that day,” he told colleagues and the country.

To which he added later: “I feel exhilarated by the fact that this fellow (Trump) finally, totally discredited himself . .  . He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.”

But McConnell stayed his trigger finger. The House voted to impeach the departing President. The Senate voted 57-43 to convict: Seven GOP senators voted Yay. McConnell quite likely could have furnished the additional 10 votes.

The result: The chance to rid American politics of Trump was lost. Trump can run again, and once more endanger the Republic. What is more, McConnell has endorsed him, this by a man who accurately described events of 01/06/2021 as a “failed insurrection.”

A part of it is partisan. McConnell voted to convict President Clinton. He played obstructionist during most of Obama’s two terms, telling Republican colleagues: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

All the while, Trump has kept banging away. He has gone over the boundaries of racism, mocking McConnell’s Asian American wife as “Coco Chao.”  “I hired his wife,” Trump said of her Cabinet appointment, “Did he ever say, ‘Thank you?’”

Later this year, likely, colleagues will line up on the Senate floor to deliver McConnell tributes. It’s an old-boy ritual that will ring hollow. When it comes to defending our Constitution, and preserving government by the people, Mitch McConnell has shown he is a man who could hide in a field of stubble.

Joel Connelly
Joel Connelly
I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.


  1. Thank you for writing such a withering summation of Mitch McConnell’s dishonesty.
    Great, memorable line:
    “When it comes to defending our Constitution, and preserving government by the people, Mitch McConnell has shown he is a man who could hide in a field of stubble.”


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