Mitch McConnell’s legacy: promoting himself, not Kentucky Skip to content

Mitch McConnell’s legacy: promoting himself, not Kentucky

Some have labeled McConnell a “leader.” A true leader has qualities that obviously don’t reside with the Senator. In fact, he could be more accurately described as “a wind sock,” someone who moves with whichever way the wind is blowing when those gusts work to his own advantage.

Photo by Andrew Dawes / Unsplash

So, Senator Mitch McConnell has announced that he will step down as the Republican leader in the Senate later this year, a position he has held for seventeen years. He has not, however, committed to leaving the Senate at the end of his present term in 2026 (more’s the pity).

And, of course, immediately after his announcement, the plaudits began to roll in, touting his long years of service and dedication, except from fellow Kentucky senator Rand Paul, whose comments seemed somewhat lukewarm about the abdication. That’s probably because McConnell and Paul have seldom seen eye-to-eye on virtually anything.

While all the high praise is coming in for the Senator, there has been little substance attached to anything that he has accomplished that was truly beneficial to the welfare of the people of this country or Kentucky. Yes, he was likely responsible for getting a largesse of money sent to Kentucky from the federal government, but that’s something that Kentuckians expect from whomever they send to Washington. There is the question if any of those funds would have been available if they didn’t represent some form of advantage to him. If Kentucky was especially anointed with federal funds under his tenure, it is only because of his lengthy term, not because of any special generosity.

Let’s review some of Mitch’s accomplishments.

From the very beginning he was opposed to the Affordable Care Act, a law that has kept several hundred thousand Kentuckians out of abject poverty or without medical care. Maybe his objections to this act were simply because it came from President Obama. You remember Obama. Mitch declared that his main goal was to see that Obama was a one-term president.  (You botched that one, Mitch.)

(There’s an interesting side note to the ACA.  Several years ago, shortly after the ACA was enacted – without Mitch’s support – a poll was taken in which respondents were asked if they were in favor of “Obamacare.” Responses were almost universally negative, with significant percentages against it.  When the same respondents were asked if they supported the Affordable Care Act, the responses were reversed! Just shows how labels matter.)

The Senator has been consistently against anything designed to improve the environment. In 2020 the League of Conservation Voters gave him a lifetime rating of 7%, among the worst in the Senate.

McConnell was instrumental in getting conservative justices appointed to the Supreme Court (as well as many federal court judges) and one of the primary results of that (when Samuel Alito replaced Sandra O’Connor) was the ruling in Citizens United declaring corporations as “people,” opening the floodgates of corporate money into political campaigns.

Our senior senator supported NAFTA, the trade agreement that sucked jobs out of this country and caused the shutdown of Fruit of the Loom factories in several Kentucky counties, which have yet to recover the thousands of jobs that went south. Remember Ross Perot’s allusion to “that sucking sound” from south of the border?

When those who say they voted for, or are likely to vote for McConnell, because of what he has done for Kentucky, ask them to name something, anything, that fits that category and that did not benefit him as well.

In 2014 McConnell was named the NRA’s “Defender of Freedom,” perhaps because of his constant refusal to allow gun control legislation to come to the Senate floor.

The final (we thought at the time) indignity that McConnell brought to his office was his denial of the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court at the end of President Obama’s term. McConnell deliberately held up hearings on Garland for over nine months, claiming that the President should not be allowed an appointment during his last year in office. This was unprecedented and has brought undying shame on him for it, certainly an act for which he will be remembered by many, since it resulted in the Dobb’s decision upending abortion rights. And his reluctance to bring up Garland’s nomination didn’t deter him from rushing through the nomination of Amy Comer Barrett just 58 days before Biden was elected in November of 2020.

But just when it might have been thought that he couldn’t do anything more egregious, he comes to the end of his position as minority leader with an endorsement of a presidential candidate who has already been deemed by presidential scholars as the worst president in history, and who has declared that he will pardon those serving prison sentences for the assault on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, the moment when McConnell was cowering in the basement along with his colleagues. Apparently, Mitch has forgotten his declaration that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the events of that day. (Although to be fair, he has tried to reconcile his endorsement by referring back to his January 25th comment that he would support the party’s nominee.) His conscience must be doing flip-flops on that one.

Some have labeled McConnell a “leader.” A true leader has qualities that obviously don’t reside with the Senator. In fact, he could be more accurately described as “a wind sock,” someone who moves with whichever way the wind is blowing when those gusts work to his own advantage.

Only twelve senators have ever served longer than Mitch McConnell and if he remains to the end of his present term in 2026, he will overtake three of those. It’s hard to believe that the founders ever considered a position in government to be a lifetime commitment. In fact, Jefferson commented, “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on [offices] a rottenness begins in his conduct.” 

How appropriate.

So, for all those who want to heap plaudits on the Senator, please do so elsewhere.  I’m not buying.


Written by Chuck Witt. Cross-posted from WinCity Voices.

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