Profiles in cowardice: McConnell, Cruz, Graham and maybe Paul

This post also appears on Daily Kos.


AFT Local 1360

Pretend a Democrat is president.

He won the nomination by smearing most other hopefuls, including a quartet of U.S. senators.

He slammed one as a small, sweaty choker and a “Mr. Meltdown.” He scoffed that another “didn't get the right gene.”

He sneered that a third senator was “one of the dumbest human beings I have ever seen,” “a disgrace” and “one of the most worst representatives for the [senator’s] state.”

He flayed the fourth as a liar while dredging up a lie that the senator’s father was chummy with Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

One of the senators voted for a third-party candidate. Another one hinted that he voted for the president; the others told reporters that they supported him on election day.


The president gets off to a rough start; he tanks in the polls. A special prosecutor starts prying into possible election machinations that might even get the president impeached.

Meanwhile, though the Democrats control both houses of Congress, the president can’t get anything important passed.

He lashes out at lawmakers, notably the senate majority leader. Supposedly, they yell at each other on the phone.

No matter, the top senate Democrat will do anything to do in the other side. Power, personal and party, is the majority chief’s alpha and omega. 

So he genuflects to the president. He sneaks through a spiteful, deeply flawed bill the president demands. 

The measure will adversely affect one sixth of the economy and a slew of citizens. Even, so he won’t even make a pretense of getting Republican input. 

He refuses to wait for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to score the legislation. He agrees to hold one perfunctory hearing on the bill—before an unrelated committee.

All that matters to the senate chief is a win—for himself, for his party and for the president, in that order.

Senator “Disgrace” co-sponsors the bill. Sweat-drenched and dissembler favor it. Genetically challenged is a holdout, but he tweets, “Also currently working with the President to finalize better” bill...“Coming soon!”

If such a fable were fact, the Republicans would be popping veins crying foul, if not impeachment. Their wails would be audible from Washington, D.C. to Washington state. 


Oh, wait! Donald Trump is president. He’s a Republican. The GOP runs the House and Senate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is shoving through the senate—damn the damnable Democrats, full speed ahead!--real legislation to screw millions of Americans out of their health care and to shaft the Democratic black guy who lived in the White House before the Make-America-White-Again white guy moved in.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.—“dumbest...disgrace”— said he voted third-party. No matter, he’s a co-sponsor of the rocket-propelled bill to gut the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

“Little Marco” Rubio, R-Fla., purportedly profuse perspirer, voted for the president. He’s evidently a solid “aye” for the Trumpcare bill. That’s ditto for “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, D-Tex. 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.—genetically-challenged, according to the president—was also with Trump on Nov. 8. He doesn’t like the Graham-Cassidy bill because he thinks it doesn’t go far enough; Paul wants the ACA nuked. 

Anyway, before he was president, Kennedy wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book called Profiles in Courage. It’s about eight U.S. senators who defied their party bigwigs, elevated principle above partisan politics and imperiled their careers. 

McConnell wouldn’t have made into the book. The Huffington Post dubbed the senator “a Modern Day Machiavelli.” 

“He is a man who values political expediency above most else,” wrote HP scribe Jennifer Bendery. “He is cunning, he is calculating and he aligns with those he needs to keep his position of power.

“In the 1400s, this was a classic character in one of Niccolò Machiavelli’s books... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reprising the role.” 

The book is The Prince. “It is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves,” said the Prince.

A biography of Senator Self-Preservation is aptly titled The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell.

"At some point along the way, Mitch McConnell decided that his own longevity in Washington trumped all - that he would even be willing to feed the public's disillusionment with its elected leaders if it would increase his and his party's odds of success at the polls,” wrote author Alec MacGillis. “In the contest of cynical striving versus earnest service, Mitch McConnell already won."

Somebody should write a Profiles in Cowardice. The author would do well to include McConnell, Graham, Rubio and Cruz — and Paul if he knuckles under to the boorish bully in the White House. I’d almost bet the farm he will.