Mitch McConnell made a Faustian bargain when Donald Trump was elected: In exchange for Trump nominating ultraconservative federal judges (some of whom were not even qualified to serve on the bench), the Senate Majority Leader would do his best to normalize Trump and give the appearance that the president was “running things” even though both knew better.
McConnell’s plan had been working to his and Trump’s satisfaction until the novel coronavirus arrived in the United States and Trump’s massive incompetence was laid bare for the nation and world to see. Now 53,000 Americans are dead and the president’s poll numbers are in free fall.
As Heather Digby Parton notes in a fascinating article for Salon, McConnell slipped up, too, when it came to coronavirus, suggesting that he’s unwilling to help the states with federal infusions of cash, so they’ll need to explore the bankruptcy route:
“He said these states and cities can use this crisis to solve their ‘pension problem,’ and that he’s saving future generations from their fiscal irresponsibility. He later made clear just exactly which states he was talking about by putting out a memorandum in which he described the states requesting help as ‘Blue State Bailouts.'”
McConnell’s remarks drew fire from both sides of the political aisle, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commenting:
“It really is offensive. You talk about one issue where you think you can get past partisanship and pettiness, and now you talk about helping communities where people are dying, and you say they are blue states?”
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) concurred, remarking:
“To say that it is ‘free money’ to provide funds for cops, firefighters and healthcare workers makes McConnell the Marie Antoinette of the Senate.”
Of course, states aren’t allowed to go bankrupt, and McConnell knows that, but it sets up a fight he thinks will be beneficial to him and Republicans. Problem is, if states are forced to cut police and firefighters, along with doctors and nurses — especially now that we know how horrific a pandemic can be — the GOP looks like the Grim Reaper. And that isn’t gong to sell with voters come November.
McConnell has organized his own downfall, along with that of the Republican Party and Donald Trump, Parton concludes:
“The incumbent president and his party have decided that their best bet to win over the country during an unprecedented crisis will be to give as much money as possible to big business, force states into bankruptcy and destroy the pensions of cops, firefighters and teachers as the pile of dead bodies gets higher and higher.”
The self-inflicted wound is almost always the fatal one, especially in politics. And it’s the one that Mitch McConnell has inflicted on his party and his president. When November 3 rolls around, there’s a very good chance that all the bandages and hateful rhetoric in the world won’t be able to save what’s left of the the Republican Party.