You’re going to see Miss Mitch McConnell when he’s gone
Last week, the top Republican in the US Senate, Mitch McConnellwas hospitalized after he tripped and suffered a concussion. That was alarming to me — but not as alarming as the realization that McConnell is older than both Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
No, it’s not another column regrettable America’s gerontocracy. In fact, McConnell has the energy and sharpness of a 55-year-old man – which is why this latest spill shook me. It is my contention that while McConnell is far from perfect, losing him now would be devastating to the Republican Party and America.
I am not alone in my thought process. As The hills Alexander Bolton writes, McConnell’s injury “left some GOP senators uneasy and worried about the future.” For example, one Republican senator told him, “I think who would be our next leader, and what kind of leader would that person be? Yes, I care about that.”
The GOP blew it by calling everything ‘woke’
More on that in a bit. First, though, I want to focus on McConnell’s age; the man is 81 years old.
Recently, National Review’s Dan McLaughlin (“Baseball Crank” on Twitter) described how old Joe Biden is. “One of Queen Victoria’s children was still alive when Joe Biden was born,” McLaughlin noted. “So was Orville Wright. So was Grover Cleveland’s widow. Martin Luther King Jr. was 13. Elvis was seven. Anne Frank had been in hiding for four months in a country whose queen-in-exile had been on the throne since 1890.
Each of these things also occurred during McConnell’s lifetime. Damn, McConnell contracted polio as a child (Jonas Salks polio vaccine was introduced in 1955). McConnell was present when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. McConnell is too longest-serving manager in the history of the Senate.
I’m not bringing this up to argue that McConnell is somehow unfit for the job or that he should resign. On the contrary. Actually I do opposite point. McConnell may be indispensable.
Of course he has disappointed me over the years (his low point may be his refusal to vote to impeach Donald Trump at its post-Jan. 6 second impeachment), but it’s hard to imagine a Republican leader in this era which is at the same time one effective conservative leader (He probably is more responsible than anyone for confirming conservative judges) and willing to stand up to MAGA forces on behalf of institutions and liberal democracy.
Trump blames it all on McConnell’s ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’
Instead of reporting all those times McConnell stood boldly against Trump and Trumpism, let’s consider what he did literally the day before his downfall: He publicly denounced the selectively edited Jan. 6 video that ran on Fox News. “I want to fully associate myself with the opinion of the chief and the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6th,” McConnell said. “It was a mistake, in my opinion, for Fox News to portray this in a way that is completely contrary to what our top law enforcement official here at the Capitol believes.”
This was no small thing. Video of McConnell (and other Republican senators) denouncing the video Fox News aired was widely viewed by news reporters, including Bret Baier by Fox News’ Special report.
This is important when you think about how things might be if one various Republicans were in McConnell’s shoes. After all, McConnell’s counterpart in the lower chamber, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, provided the security footage to Fox News in the first place.
Now the odds are that if and when Mitch McConnell leaves the US Senate, he will not be replaced by a MAGA populist like Sens. Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz. Not immediately, anyway. Nevertheless, just this year McConnell had to fend off a leadership challenge from Senator Rick Scott (which was approved by Trump). Ask yourself if Rick Scott would be more like McConnell or more like McCarthy.
Why does Kevin McCarthy even want to be speaker at this point?
It’s too early to hit the panic button, but this latest development serves as a reminder that McConnell won’t be around forever. And even about the person who replaces him want to to do the right thing, this person will not have the political skills, experience, toughness and skill that McConnell possesses.
He is in the autumn of his years. The end of the McConnell era is near; we should start preparing for it. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, McConnell’s departure—whenever it happens (and let’s hope it’s a long way off)—should be met with sadness and trepidation. You’ll never know how good you had it until it’s gone.
He is truly the last bulwark against the barbarians at the gate.
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