There is an old Jewish joke about the boy going to visit his grandmother to check out her new apartment. He calls her on the phone for directions to the unfamiliar address. She tells him where to turn, where to park, where to enter. “When you get to my door, there is a buzzer on your right which you can press with your elbow.”
“But, Grandma, why do I need my elbow? Can’t I just press it with my finger the regular way?”
“What, you’re coming empty-handed?”
This story comes to mind whenever I see Mitch McConnell’s face on the screen, interviewed about this or that legislation. Here is the “Leader” of the majority party in the United States Senate. After all the expense and effort we invested in turning his caucus from a minority into a majority in the 2014 elections, surely he must be bringing us a goodie of some kind, a sweet, a treat, a trinket, a card… something… anything. But no, his hands are always empty. He offers nothing and he accomplishes even less.
Less than nothing is not mere hyperbole, it is a fair assessment. Indeed we are lucky when his impact is merely neutral. In most cases he has the reverse Midas touch, making everything worse. Maybe he needs to wear gloves to avoid spreading the infection.
Here are the ground rules in the world he has created. Number One, the government must never be shut down. He boasts of his stalwart commitment to keeping the government open at all costs. Lately we have seen that “all costs” include killing babies to harvest their organs and giving the rogue state of Iran the funds and the firepower to commit at least terrorism and at most genocide.
Even when it came to executive orders by the President on immigration McConnell claimed were illegal, he would not block funding. You see, if you don’t give Barack his money, he won’t sign the budget, and then the government will run out of money and then the non-essential personnel who mop up the water after Old Faithful gushes will be furloughed. This will be much loved by ordinary citizens around the country, but despised by McConnell’s neighbors in the upscale suburbs of D.C., who fear that one day — this has NEVER EVER happened — there will be a shutdown so severe that some federal workers will lose some pay on the deal.
Number Two, there is no point passing a law which the President will veto, since we do not have enough votes to override. This leads to a particularly comical form of paralysis, in which McConnell actually is forced to become the President’s prime spokesman. The interviews go something like this:
“Senator McConnell, will you schedule a vote to defund Planned Parenthood?”
“No, because the President believes passionately in a woman’s right to choose and he considers the work of Planned Parenthood indispensable in that regard.”
“So why not put a bill on his desk?”
“Because he would never agree to allow any bill to stand if it involved a loss of funds for Planned Parenthood so it is pointless for us to pass such a bill.”
So the President never has to make his case because Mitch makes it for him. And he never has to go out and take a stand with a veto defying popular opinion, because Mitch protects him from confronting that conflict.
In the case of the Iran deal, Senator McConnell’s poltroonery-qua-perfidy is most startling of all. He goes along with its not being considered a treaty. He works with Senator Corker to craft a bill which requires 67 votes to disapprove of the agreement, at a time when the majority party has only 54 votes. He fools the public into thinking this rule gives the Senate “a chance” to possibly register its disapproval, when in actuality the Corker Bill removes the sanctions from Iran automatically… if the 67 votes cannot be mustered!
Now he is allowing the Democrats to filibuster a vote on the motion of disapproval, by using 42 votes to thwart the 60 vote threshold for cloture of debate. However, the rule could easily be changed to allow a 51 vote cloture in this one special instance. But no, the arteries of Mitch’s World are too hardened and circulation of red-blooded American courage has long since been blocked.
If Iran drops an atom bomb on Israel one day, don’t look for McConnell to admit his complicity. He will be too busy preventing a vote on the amendment to censure Iran. After all, Obama might veto and the government might shut down, and that will really and truly be Armageddon. Surely the few surviving Israelis will understand.
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That’s right, the Grinch (Joe Biden) is coming for your pocketbooks this Christmas season with record inflation. Just to recap, here is a list of items that have gone up during his reign.
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