By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
I taught Kentucky history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah for 20 years.
So I know Bluegrass State politics has always been a contact sport. But politics wasn’t a holy war until that Orwellian year, 1984, when Kentucky elected—without my vote—Addison Mitchell McConnell to the U.S. Senate.
I'm proud to say I've cast my ballot for every Democrat who's run against McConnell.
Alec MacGillis’ 2014 biography of my state's longest-tenured senator--I say "tenured" instead of "serving" because all he serves is himself and the plutocrats and union-haters who bankroll him--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 disillusionment with its elected leaders if it would increase his and his party’s odds of success at the polls,” the author wrote.
The book is a must read. But Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, just emailed me a short article from Real Time Politics in which pundit, professor, author and former labor secretary Robert Reich offered five examples of McConnell’s ruthlessness, demagoguery and of his putting political gain over all else.
Reich, according to Realtime Politics, is “disgusted by the fact that Mitch McConnell stole the Supreme Court vacancy.”
Reich took to social media to catalogue this quintet of “despicable actions" because “he believes McConnell is a huge danger to American democracy and the moves he single-handedly made are destroying America’s foundation,” RP says.
On his Facebook page, Reich declared:
"No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government than Mitch McConnell. For example:
“1. As Majority Leader of the Senate, McConnell famously declared in 2010: ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.’
“2. By 2013, McConnell had led filibusters of 79 of Obama’s court nominees, compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic.
“3. After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed last year, it took McConnell less than an hour to say that the vacancy should be filled by the next president. He called keeping Obama’s nominee off the court ‘one of my proudest moments.’
“4. Although his predecessors as majority leaders at least attempted collegiality, McConnell practices no such niceties (recall his recent silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren).
“5. Now comes his use of the ‘nuclear option,’ ending the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees, killing the tradition of unlimited debate in the Senate dating back to 1789. Two years ago, when Obama was president, McConnell said he would abolish filibusters of Supreme Court justices only if there were 67 votes for such a change. This week, he employed a maneuver to do it with 51 votes.
“McConnell has consistently placed party over country. He is no patriot. He has shamed himself, the Republican Party, and America.”
Winning is all that has ever matters to the senate majority leader, no matter how deep in the gutter he wallows to get what he wants.
History will not be kind to McConnell.