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Bill Straub: McConnell is Trump’s primary enabler as the walls come tumbling down around the President


Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is so smitten with the idea that he’s playing “the long game” in politics that he titled his self-penned hagiography after that empty phrase.

But it’s quickly becoming obvious, as the walls come tumbling down around President Trump (OMG!), that the sage of Louisville, misspoke. He isn’t playing the long game. He’s playing the wrong game.

And when future historians search through the rubble of an ancient library and blow the dust off a tome covering the events of these days, they won’t be kind to ol’ Root-‘n-Branch.

Over the past several months, McConnell has arranged it so that he, his political fortunes, as well as the fortunes of the Republican Senate caucus, are irrevocably tied to the Trumpster, who, frankly, has seen better days. While his Alphonse to the president’s Gaston has paid some dividends, especially regarding a tax cut package and judicial appointments, McConnell’s legacy will ultimately assume the same glow as New Coke, the Edsel, and last season’s Cleveland Browns.

Ol’ Root-‘n-Branch willingly associates himself with Trump, a bloated, foul-mouthed bully who rules through insult and fabrications. Now it’s almost certain he abetted a felony. His former attorney, Michael D. Cohen, has pled guilty to, among other things, violating finance laws during the 2016 presidential campaign that landed Humpty-Trumpty in the White House.

To wit: Cohen made payoffs, “at the direction of a candidate for federal office,’’ to two women with whom Trump was, shall we say, engaged in hanky-panky outside the holy bonds of his marriage, which must be a whole lot of laughs these days. One of the women receiving the cash, to put an exclamation point on it, goes by the stage name of Stormy Daniels, a renowned pornographic film star (not that I would know anything about that). This was done, Cohen told the court, “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.’’

In case you haven’t caught on, the “candidate for federal office’’ cited above, according to Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, was none other than the Trumpster himself.

Simultaneously, Trump’s one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort, he of the ostrich-skin jacket, was found guilty by a jury of his peers on eight counts of financial fraud, with another trial looming in Washington centered on allegations of lying to the FBI, money laundering and foreign lobbying.

Then there is the whole Russia mishegoss that led to the far-ranging probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the first place, which includes a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. at Manhattan’s Trump Tower with an individual who had ties to the Kremlin wanting to dish dirt on Hillary Clinton, the old man’s Democratic foe. That one is ongoing.

It’s not too great a stretch of the imagination to speculate that the word “impeachment’’ is being whispered in the corridors of the Capitol these days. The House, in December 1998, impeached then-President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about a sexual tryst with a young woman named Monica Lewinsky. Clinton subsequently was acquitted. On the face of it, Trump’s missteps would appear to be just as, if not more, serious than the alleged sins committed by Clinton, especially since he has denied the relationships and feigned ignorance on any pay-offs.

Throughout all this our boy Mitch has, in his usual stoic manner, kept his yap shut. In so doing he has enhanced his status as Trump’s primary enabler, providing the grifter-in-chief with the keys to the kingdom as long as he plays along with ol’ Root-‘n-Branch’s legislative whims.

President Trump, Michael Cohen

The other day, for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump announced that it was rolling back Obama-era regulations regarding power plant emissions, thus throwing a lifeline to Kentucky’s flailing coal industry and planting what passes as a smile on McConnell’s lips.

“The Obama Administration’s so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ offered a typical story from that era,”

McConnell said. “An innocent-seeming name. A pleasant-sounding objective. But underneath, an intrusive regulatory regime — built not on effective policy, but on far-left ideology. That’s why I am so grateful that, today, the Trump administration is unveiling its plan to pare back this unfair, unworkable, and likely illegal policy.”

Of course ol’ Root-‘n-Branch failed to acknowledge that the EPA itself acknowledges that the rollback will result in an additional 1,400 premature deaths a year. Apparently, that means very little to Trump’s new BFF.

Things haven’t always been so lovey-dovey between the two. Trump screamed bloody murder last year when the Senate failed to repeal Obamacare placing the fiasco squarely in McConnell’s lap, even suggesting that placing someone more effective in the leadership role might prove necessary.

Since then, however, the two men played nicely to pass massive tax cuts primarily benefitting Corporate America and the already very rich, adding about $1trillion to an already bloated deficit while failing to increase the take-home pay of the nation’s average worker despite promises. Now some Republicans are openly discussing cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to compensate for lost federal revenues, a situation they created.

Mitch McConnell

And now the modern embodiment of Laurel and Hardy are strategizing over the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was not McConnell’s first, or even second, choice for the job because of the extensive paper trail he left behind after serving 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, as well as in his roles as White House staff secretary under President George W. Bush and as an assistant to the independent counsel who investigated Clinton.

McConnell is carrying Trump’s water on the nomination by simply ignoring Democratic calls for the sort of documents Republicans requested when former President Barack Obama nominated Justice Elena Kagan. In that case, if you listen to the GOP, they were doing due diligence. Asking the same of Kavanaugh is a fishing expedition.

And now there exists a new question – should the Senate be in a rush to confirm a Supreme Court nomination from a president who, by all implications, participated in a felony, and shouldn’t that be addressed before considering Kavanaugh? McConnell will certainly ignore that issue, just as he has ignored the racist, misogynist, bigoted and cruel comments that have belched out of Trump’s mouth over his 19 months in office.

Regardless, the hard feelings created by the Obamacare debate last year are long gone and the two men now speak via phone “multiple times a week, and sometimes at unusual hours,’’ according to what ol’ Root-‘n-Branch told the Washington Post. Much of that time is spent discussing steps that need to be taken to retain GOP control of the Senate.

McConnell has spent a lot of miserable time propping up this wholly unqualified whacko to serve as president of the United States, knowing all along it was hurting the nation. In the unlikely event the House, now controlled by Republicans, impeaches the president, rest assured that McConnell will be there to protect Trump’s backside – not because it’s the right thing to do but because he is a Republican. McConnell has always placed party before country, and his sycophantic diligence toward Humpty-Trumpty does nothing but bolster that proposition.

As goes Trump so goes McConnell. They say if you lie down with a dog you get fleas. For old Mitch, they don’t make a dip strong enough to rid him of those nasty little insects.

KyForward’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.


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