He may well be the most hated man in America. Mitch McConnell has simultaneously angered Democrats by letting Trump off the hook for the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and angered Republicans by betraying Trump. In a bizarre moment in American political history, he acquitted the former President at his impeachment trial, then made a speech blaming him for the very crimes for which he had been acquitted.
Egregiously, his reason for acquitting the former President was that the Senate didn’t have the power to convict an impeached officer once they were out of office, even though, as majority leader when the impeachment articles were presented to the Senate, he had refused to try them! It was like he was playing a shell game. Because of this, McConnell will likely be remembered by history for duplicity, even cowardice.
And yet there was that speech, laying the blame wholly at Trump’s feet. What gives? Well, consider that McConnell, as I have brought up before, is from the Silent generation (b. 1925-1942). This is a generation that puts process over principle. They are indeed masters of process, which McConnell certainly demonstrated with his little political trick that enabled him to personally blame Trump for January 6, while sparing his fellow party members from having to make any similar such political statement.
Honestly, I think that is his game. He is trying to divest the Republicans of Trump with as little risk as possible to the current Republican office-holders. At least, that’s my understanding of his motivation. If, ultimately, this gambit fails and Trumpism rises again (the feared “beer hall putsch” scenario), then McConnell will go down in history as one of those double-dealing politicians who fails to confront a growing threat until it is too late. Like the Compromisers before the U.S. Civil War, or like Neville Chamberlain.
But for now, since Mitch McConnell has demonstrated the art of political process and a thorough appreciation of his powers within the political system, I name him my Silent of the week.