Reader: A loathsome creature 


Growing up in the 1960s and '70s, I saw real leaders, people who didn't care about the size of their campaign war chest or the juicy FauxNews or thinktank gig awaiting them after their government exit.

As pundit Charlie Pierce says, Mitch McConnell is the most "loathsome creature" in American politics. He's content to luxuriate in the over $65 million in his bank account and enable the man-baby who is president.

McConnell failed in his Inauguration Day 2009 vow to ensure Barack Obama would be a one-term president, but his enmity for the man only grew. He took enormous glee in forbidding Merrick Garland a public hearing as a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. He paid little heed to Senate norms or ethics; yet that isn't the worst of his hypocrisies.

When the Democratic majority passed Resolution 1 (HR 1) earlier this month, it was a massive move to reverse the corruptive Citizens United decision, safeguard the integrity of voting rights and election processes, and propose making Election Day a federal holiday. In response, McConnell declared his opposition by saying, "I'm as firm a supporter as anyone of vigorous debate and a vibrant political discourse... ."

Look no further than his cutting off the microphone of Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a "vigorous debate," and his unwillingness to move any of the nine initiatives that House Democrats have passed (with Republican votes) to re-open the government.

But there's more. From the Jan. 19 Trump proposal that offers relief to Dreamers and other immigrants for a three-year period, in exchange for $5.7 billion for a vanity project that Mexico was supposed to pay for, McCon-nell announced that he would lump the president's proposal in with an initiative to end the shutdown, and increased spending for natural disaster relief. (No, not Puerto Rico.) His tactic is simple: If the Democrats balk, he can blame them for open borders, the shutdown and disaster relief inequities.

Let's be clear. Trump never mentioned 800,000 displaced federal workers and contractors in his speech — they are his hostages. But he took more hostages — 3.6 million Dreamers and millions more undocumented immigrants who want the opportunity to work and live freely in this country.

While McConnell justifies his position by declaring that he'll only advance legislation Trump will sign, he's abdicating his oath of office. He's the leader of a co-equal branch of government. Any man of conscience would send along the bipartisan legislation that has passed both houses and leave it to the president to sign or veto. If he vetoes, there are enough votes for an override. McConnell must do the bidding of his country, not that of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who are all bloviation and no accountability.

Be clear about the cause for this crisis: Prior to the shutdown, Nancy Pelosi urged the president to reconsider his broken promise to McConnell, to make good on his original promise to sign the appropriations bill. Trump told lawmakers that if he does that, he'll "look foolish." It's a vanity made even more cynical and disgraceful by the demand for a wall that Americans do not want and that immigration and law enforcement officials argue will not work.

McConnell banks on the tired cynicism of anti-government Reaganism, that government workers don't matter; his inactions bring to mind the quip "The government is your enemy until you need a friend."

— Steve Schriener

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