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Mitch McConnell Will Retire As Senate Leader After The Election

Updated: Feb 29

One Less Closet Case In Congress

Yesterday, in her panic, my friend Dorothy missed my tweet about the McConnell announcement and she called me an hour afterwards to tell me about it, while panicking. Over that asshole leaving??? “Now we’re going to get a MAGAt,” she said. We won’t; it’s going to be one of the 3 Johns— Cornyn or Thune or Barrasso— who are all conservative institutionalists, not MAGAts and not fascists.” But she knows her stuff: “They all endorsed Trump.” That’s true. But that’s what Republicans do. We’ll never know, but I bet at least Thune and Cornyn won’t vote for him. McConnell is 82— long past his self date. And, other than Trump, who has done more to destroy American democracy?

It must be noted that the MAGA-fascist wing is looking for their own contender to replace Mitch, although since almost all want it for themselves, I suspect this isn’t going anywhere (other than social media and the pages of Punchbowl, Axios and Politico): JD Vance (OH), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Ted Cruz (TX), Rick Scott (FL), Rand Paul (KY), Ron Johnson (WI), Tom Cotton (AR), Stephen Schmitt (MO), plus dim bulbs Tommy Tuberville (AL) and Marsha Blackburn (TN). Trump may or may not pick the new GOP Senate leader in the unlikely event that he wins in November, but he would absolutely have veto power over any selection not to his liking. Imagine a Senate MAGA Mike!

Anyway, good riddance to McConnell, who says he’s staying on as Minority Leader through the election… although David Graham's headline is Mitch McConnell Surrenders To Trump. Surrendering? the guy who once said to Josh Dawsey (right after the failed J-6 coup attempt) “I feel exhilarated by the fact that this fellow finally, totally discredited himself. He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.” Yeah, he is. Don't shed any tears for Miss McConnell. He has been one of the most destructive forces in American politics for too many decades, even if he personally detests Trump. Hopefully bitter and long-lasting chaos among Senate Republicans will be another one of his hideous legacies.

Today, Graham wrote that “McConnell’s exit marks Trump’s conquest of the Senate, the one element of the GOP that still offered even a little resistance to the former president. Trump has all but clinched the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The Republican National Committee may soon be controlled by one of his top campaign aides and his daughter-in-law. The speaker of the House rose to prominence trying to find legal means to overturn Trump’s 2020 defeat. Governors who once criticized him, such as Larry Hogan and Chris Sununu, have left or will soon leave office."

McConnell, the longest-serving party leader in Senate history, is 82 and visibly ailing; he suffered a pair of strange seizure-like incidents last year that raised concerns about his health. He also cited the recent death of his sister-in-law in his remarks. But McConnell’s health is not the reason he’s stepping down. (His current Senate term runs through 2026, and he has not said he will retire.)
“Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them,” he said. McConnell is already losing control of his caucus, and retaining his grip will only get harder after the elections, when the Senate is likely to gain more Trump-aligned members. McConnell had no interest in leading a Trumpist party in the Senate.

Mitch and I have the same birthday (February 20)… but half a dozen years apart. I wonder how steep his cognitive decline is. “One of life’s most under-appreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” he said told his colleagues from the well yesterday. “So I stand before you today... to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate… As I have been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work. A moment when I’m certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. That day arrived today… I am unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world… I still have enough gas in the tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm which they have become accustomed.”

In Washington— if no where else— most people on both sides of the aisle were publicly gracious about McConnell’s announcement, including Joe Biden— who served with him in the Senate— as well as Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries. Even knowing all the irreparable damage to democracy McConnell has done, they all tried their best to not dance on his grave yet, although many in the media were happy to. Remember two things, though: 1- McConnell has long been the single most disliked figure in American politics and 2- yesterday, McConnell made himself into a lame duck-- in the Senate and in the 2024 campaign battlefield.

But because he’s always in competition in Congress’ biggest asshole category, Josh Hawley (R-MO) said “Good. It’s time. This is a good decision and will be a chance to start fresh [in handing Ukraine over to Putin].” Of course, the person he's most frequently in competition with for the title is Florida Panhandle Twitter warrior Matt Gaetz, so... the competition is very, very stiff.



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