Last year Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shared the Scholars & Rogues Asshole of the Year Award with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Fake Christians.
As a result of his redoubled commitment to inequality, social injustice, the annihilation of the Constitution, and general spite, this year “Moscow Mitch” – who has done more in four years to destroy America than the Soviet Union did in seven decades – has the trophy all to himself.
McConnell continues the Republican onslaught against actual democratic and republican principles that began Newt Gingrich. He was elected to the House in ’79 and became speaker in ’95. One of his first directives was to tell his caucus to NOT bring their families to DC. Newt told them to return to their districts on weekends (after all, the House only sat functionally sat in session from noon Tuesday to noon Thursday) to fundraise.
The end result of the Republican search for control of the legislative and judicial branches finds McConnell as an outgrowth of what Newt began. The important word is control. McConnell has imposed that control, and it’s been amplified by his caucus’s fear of a vindictive Trump.
Trump may not get a second term … but it’s likely McConnell will still be running the Senate and influencing who serves as a federal judge and who doesn’t.
Something has been bothering me about Mitch McConnell for a long time. I used to think it was how hypocritical he was. How he would whine and cajole and claim the mantle of an oppressed minority and demand his rights loudly, and then how he ignored those same demands when the shoe was on the other foot. But I’m pretty convinced that he doesn’t have a hypocritical bone in his body.
Instead, his actions are entirely focused on one thing – amassing enough power to prevent actions he doesn’t like and forcing through polices he does. Through that lens he’s not a hypocrite, he’s a kraterocrat – a totalitarian who believes might makes right.
He’s been frighteningly effective at it because his opponents have continually expected him to be restrained by American values, his oath of office to uphold the Constitution, ethics, and morals. And his opponents expectations have been repeatedly swept away like so many leaves before a tornado.
McConnell is like foam insulation, expanding to fill every gap, pushing the walls out, and bursting through every hole to claim more space as his own.
In retrospect, stopping McConnell was necessary to stop Donald, and the failure of his opponents to understand McConnell indicated a greater failure to appreciate and understand Donald. McConnell is as much a bully as Donald has ever been, but because McConnell is intelligent he’s better at it.
Donald is a blunt instrument, and his bluntness keeps his opponents distracted. In contrast, McConnell could slip a knife between your ribs and you wouldn’t even notice until he was 15 feet past you and already making his escape.
Until the Democrats figure out how to deal with McConnell and the hell in America he has unleashed, America will continue its drift toward evangelical theocratic fascism, with a wannabe Mussolini at the helm. But it will be McConnell carrying the knives.
America has a rich, storied tradition of useful idiots. Reagan, for instance, was one of the most significant presidents of my lifetime (for good or ill – mostly ill). Under him we saw earth-shaking changes that we’re still dealing with (and will be for the foreseeable future) – neo-feudal economics, thuggish foreign policy (admittedly not a new thing per se, but gleefully validated), a shift in the American landscape so dramatic that today’s Democrats are considerably to the right of the pre-Reagan GOP, etc.
But does anyone really think he was a rocket surgeon? No, Ronnie was the charismatic frontman for a far-right intellectual movement that got its start in the 1960s and involved the likes of Friedman/the Chicago School, Irving Kristol and the thoughtful but ultimately corrupt writings of Daniel Bell, who posited the “end of ideology.”
Our Asshole of the Year Award is named for yet another useful idiot, Donald Trump, a man who makes Reagan seem Einsteinian by comparison. Trump is a boob job of the first magnitude, but he isn’t just a boob job. He isn’t simply a bad boob job, or a discount boob job, or a botched back-alley boob job. Trump is the boob job you get from TRUMP® Boob Jobs.
He inherited a fortune and now has less money than if he’d just dumped the lot into an index fund and left it alone. He’s failed at steaks and universities and airlines and magazines and mortgages and travel and vodka and cologne and the self-proclaimed master of the deal has declared bankruptcy … what are we up to now, six times? Somehow he managed to lose money running casinos, where you’re guaranteed by law to make a profit. (Unless, of course, you believe he was actually laundering money for the Russian mob – which would explain some things.) A former prof called Donnie the dumbest student he ever had. He doesn’t understand wind and he worries about the fumes.
For the love of god, will somebody please ask the spiritual leader of the Republican Clown Posse how magnets work?
Point is, Trump is not a bright man. He’s damned useful, though, as the front for the real power, 2019’s Asshole of the Year Moscow Mitch McConnell. As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell has devoted every scrap of energy at his disposal to the active dismantling of the American political, social, and economic infrastructure.
His efforts aim to pass laws entrenching oligarchy, transferring every penny possible from the poor, the working class, and the vanishing middle class to his base constituency of billionaire jackal capitalists.
This mission is underpinned by an audacious, broad-daylight hijacking of the judiciary, reducing the Constitutionally defined process for appointing, confirming and seating federal judges to something about as sophisticated as mugging or, I don’t know, blackout-drunk date rape.
A hallmark of the last 20 years of GOP rhetoric has been bald-faced hypocrisy. For instance, if you’re running for office, figure out what your worst flaw is, then shamelessly accuse your opponent of it. Been married five times and caught cheating on every one of your ex-wives? Accuse your opponent of infidelity and preach family values. Secretly gay? Support laws stripping rights from LGBT citizens. Intent on driving up federal spending? Spend the whole eight years your opponent is in the White House yammering nonstop about the debt.
This is why recent GOP misdirections about Trump’s impeachment being a “coup” are so telling – and distressing. In a very real fashion, Moscow Mitch and his henchmen are engineering a new kind of “lawful” government takeover. “Lawful” is key. It’s only breaking the law if you get arrested and convicted, and what are the chances of that when you have total control over the legislative, executive and judicial processes?
And if you think Mitch’s hands are clean of the whole “coup” meme, I have a bedbug-infested time-share in South Florida I’d like to sell you.
I’ve argued for years that what’s happening in the US is basically what the Founders had in mind all along. The power and money resides with a narrow, privileged white male elite. Everyone else ranges in status from second-class citizen (women) to property (blacks).
So I shouldn’t argue here that McConnell is intent on destroying America, exactly. But he’s absolutely seeking to annihilate what most of our fellow citizens think America is, or ought to be.
Donald Trump is unspeakable by any imaginable standard. But he’s a yokel in clown shoes compared to the power behind the throne. Moscow Mitch McConnell isn’t just the Asshole of the Year, he may be the worst human being alive.
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About the Artist
S&R has been honored in recent years to periodically feature the work of Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Szep, and we were gratified when he agreed to provide us with the art around which our Donald J Trump Asshole of the Year Award trophy is constructed. We can’t imagine a more fitting tribute to either the namesake or the recipient.