Mitch McConnell Issues A Threat

This morning, I’ve created a theoretical exercise. it’s intended to put you in the proper frame of mind to consider the latest outrage from Mitch McConnell–aka the most dangerous man in America.

Assume we are watching a TV western. The sheriff–having won a hard-fought election in his scruffy border town by promising to keep the residents safe from (unspecified) “bad guys”–issues a proclamation promising to deal severely with law-breakers. Well, maybe not all law-breakers. He’ll deal severely with any law-breakers who supported his opponent in the election.

If someone who supported him breaks the rules, however, he says he’ll look the other way.

If we encountered  a show with that plot device, we’d be incredulous–not only is that not what we mean when we champion law and order, we’d turn the TV off while muttering about the ridiculous premise–after all, when TV bad guys decide to engage in nefarious acts, they don’t typically broadcast that intention. If that storyline did appear in our fictional TV episode, we’d expect the local folks–including those who’d supported the sheriff– to rise up and run him and his co-conspirators out of town, thereby reinforcing the primacy of justice over partisanship.

Which brings us to Mitch McConnell.

After the Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Jackson, a Black female jurist, will replace Merrick Garland), McConnell reacted with a threat.

In an interview with the conservative radio commentator Hugh Hewitt, Mr. McConnell said Republicans would most likely block any Supreme Court nominee put forward by Mr. Biden in 2024 if Republicans regained control of the Senate in next year’s elections and a seat came open.

Along with most lawyers, I was astonished and infuriated in 2016 when McConnell brazenly refused even to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, piously intoning that it was “too close to the presidential election,” although that election was months away and nominees had previously been confirmed to the Court during similar timeframes..

As we all saw, that excuse was shown to be the partisan hogwash it was when Trump nominated, and McConnell pushed through,  Amy Coney Barrett a mere six weeks before the November election.

Republicans who had banded together in 2016 at Mr. McConnell’s urging and declared that it was not appropriate to confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year had remarkable conversions in the case of Judge Barrett. The Republican leader insisted that he had not changed his position, arguing that because Mr. Obama was a Democrat, it was entirely appropriate for members of his party to block his nominee.

“What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president,” Mr. McConnell told Mr. Hewitt. “And that’s why we went ahead with it.”

Partisan misuse of power, in McConnell-land, is “entirely appropriate.”

America without the rule of law would not be America. As far short of our aspirations and stated beliefs as this country has often fallen, it still seems absolutely incomprehensible that a high-ranking, powerful political figure would publicly–proudly!– trumpet his intention to ignore so foundational a principle.

I often refer to the rule of law, assuming readers understand its importance. The shorthand we all hear is: the same rules apply to everyone. Maybe that’s too abstract.

As an educational site maintained by the US Courts defines the concept:

Rule of law is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: Publicly promulgated, Equally enforced, Independently adjudicated; and consistent with international human rights principles.

The Trump administration waged an unrelenting attack on the rule of law, culminating with Trump’s pardons of some of its sleaziest transgressors. But even Trumpers as morally and ethically compromised as Bill Barr drew the line at publicly announcing their disdain for fair and equal application of the rules.

McConnell is the sheriff from my mythical TV show–the guy who publicly announces that the rules don’t matter–that whenever possible, he will ignore fundamental fairness and the national interest, and exercise power solely to privilege his partisans.

In a very real sense, he has promised  a coup. 

Michael Flynn must be so pleased.


  1. On this date in 1858, then Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided cannot stand”. Abe’s observation was spot-on then and remains so today. I’ll leave it at that.

  2. As for McConnell; “Hang ‘im High” with his “Fist Full of Dollars” from questionable sources then go after “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” who rode with him.

  3. Well, what I said!

    If you want to counteract this sort of thing, then it’s going to take using all the tools in the toolbox including but not limited to a declaration of martial law concerning the current crisis situation! Since you have one or two senators that will not go along with Joe biden’s agenda, he’s going to have to grow a bigger set and act proactively to prevent the further slide into anarchy and chaos!

    With the deck being stacked concerning elections next year, you can hear the boasting about taking back both houses for the GOP! So, are you just going to sit there and shrug your shoulders or put your hands under your chin and say oh my?

    They better start drinking some miracle grow, because gonads are in short supply on the democratic side of the Congress and but not limited to the presidency. It really is going to take a miracle for our beloved table pounders to grow a set!

    You could solve a lot of these issues with one declaration, the supreme court, congress, the GOP, all rolled into one big edict, martial law! Our beloved table pounders have lost the battles, but they can still win the war! Although, I don’t think there’s much of a taste for it. And, they’ll take their megaphones, drop their shoulders, bow their heads, and go home like a whipped dog!

    It’s too bad when you think about it, because this one declaration could allow for infrastructure, healthcare, minimum wage, every single thing that’s progressive. Even getting voters rights and policing reform enacted! And then install new rules that would prevent the GOP from undoing anything once regular government is resumed! Of course afterwards it would take vigilance to make sure you’ve learned your lesson and take the battles seriously, use some foresight instead of being constantly reactionary! Too severe? What is the alternative?

  4. Rather than see the rantings of Mitch McConnell as a promised coup, I see them as the utterings of a desperate man trying to hold onto his political base of evangelicals. While Mitch was mouthing off with Hugh Hewitt, the Southern Baptist Convention was splitting along the same social issue lines as the rest of the country has been split these past years… and the liberal side won.
    Lordy lord, could it be that a bit of sanity is sweeping the Republican world?

  5. Isn’t it odd that only the Republicans can play these games of obstruction on the nightly news?

    When Nancy Pelosi was asked why she isn’t going after all the Republicans who assisted Trump in his coup attempt on 1/6, she replied (regretfully so), “We need a strong Republican Party.”

    Joe Biden said the same thing. Speaking of Amy Coney Barrett, remember how ‘angry’ and ‘inciteful’ all the leading Democrats were during the rush job to get her confirmation in order? Then remember the fawning of Dianne Feinstein over Lindsey Graham? Schumer replaced her from the judicial committee but the damage was done for those of us paying attention.

    The Democratic and Republican Parties are actors on a stage presented before us by an Entertainment Media Conglomerate. It’s a show for the benefit of us citizens/voters.

    Why hasn’t the Democrats added seats to the Supreme Court and filled those seats with progressive judges so we can bring fairness back into our country and tackle climate change, inequality, poverty, racism, and oppression across the board? LOL

    I believe Chris Hedges has the right idea and you can always count on him for telling us the truth even when it hurts our fragile egos. You see, if your ego is still identified with a political party, you will bristle at this truth. If your ego is identified our country, you will deny our reality — “It can’t be possible!”

    Chris had these words for the crowd assembled to hear from Julian Assange’s half-brother and father:

    “The criminal ruling class has all of us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It has abolished the rule of law. It obscures and falsifies the truth. It seeks the consolidation of its obscene wealth and power. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically of course, I say, “Off with their heads.”

  6. What I want to know about the election is how McConnell won his with a 30% approval rating? How is it that McConnell can block everything? He’s the minority leader! Our government is completely broken when the minority has more power than the majority. His threats need some major blowback.

  7. You seem extremely naive! Mitch McConnell has always been out for Mitch McConnell! The truth and “morality” has never been a value for him. Power is everything! He outwitted Obama far too often and he will continue outwitting the Democrats, until and unless they succeed in countering his messages and lesson his power. Where are the repercussions of his duplicity? In 2022 – there will be 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats up for re-election. Democrats obviously need to gain seats in the senate in 2022. Democrats are “socialists” – and worse – as Long as – the emotions and fears of the Republican voters and power structure – goes along with it. Reality is immaterial – as long as the power stays as it is. Mike Pence – has “principles”. I don’t like his principles. He is rarely strategic – using he power. Republicans have proved much more effective than Democrats in the messaging. Trump would have won in 2020 – if not for Covid – and how horribly he handled it. We can complain all we want – and it doesn’t matter! We need to organize. We need to attain power – and overcome the power of money – which is challenging. We need to recognize the – coalition of voices – which keep Mitch in power. It is “right to life” (sic). It is – “he keeps my taxes low”. It is “he cares about me”. It is – “Those ____ (take your pick) get the job I deserve”. It doesn’t matter – what the truth is! Much of the time it isn’t even the issue – itself – but the messaging. Lies – are often more effective than the truth – in getting at fears!

  8. Funny thing is, I have a neighbor with same moral compass as McConnell. We live on a lane in a rural lake neighborhood withe 20mph signs clearly posted. He will sometimes run out to the road and scream at people to slow down driving past his home but when he or his wife are behind the wheel they routinely drive 35-40 mph. He, like Mitch McConnell, is a sociopath, or one who displays a condition called Antisocial Personality Disorder (APS). Google the term and look at any of the many checklists of symptoms to get a feel for what this is. MANY of us display one or more traits now and then. My neighbor checks off 6-7 boxes out of 9-10.

    I think the bigger issue in our body politic is how to keep people with APS out of elected office. This does not mean they need to be ego-less but it does mean that they MUST have empathy. They MUST care about and value people, all people, and they MUST be able to feel remorse about the negative consequences of their words and deeds.

    There has been a lot of ink spilled about civics tests. Perhaps we should move to standardized psychological profile assessments as a requirement to run for public office.

  9. I think it’s adorable that anyone would believe McConnell would only block a Supreme Court Nominee in 2024. I’d bet any amount you’d care to wager that is, for instance, Stephan Breyer stepped down tomorrow there would be no vote until a Republican sat in the Oval Office. Whether that was 2024 or 2028 or 2032 or 20XX wouldn’t matter.

  10. Spout, spout, spout….use that energy to get together, pick a critical 2022 Senate race and use your brains to make sure it goes DEM. Be Stacey !

  11. Does anyone remember 2016? Mitch and other Republicans stated out loud that Hillary, if she were elected, would not get a single nominee on the bench. If you want to stop blatant violations of the Constitution, you have to have some penalty for those violations. If all we can do under the law is say Mitch is a meanie, that won’t bother Mitch at all, nor will it stop him.

  12. It’s true. Mitch McConnell is driven by his lust for power. I really wish Amy McConnell could have won his seat last year because I believe she would be a servant leader McConnell has a powerful oligarchy, powerful plutocrats who still support him and the citizens of Kentucky are probably committed to identity politics. If red Kentucky is ever going to become more like Arizona or Georgia, then it will start at the state level. I don’t know much about the gerrymandering in Kentucky, but I will bet it is highly partisan.

    There is only one way to put McConnell in check. Democrats need to roll up their sleeves and walk into the red states. They need to have an effective strategy to allow them to gain more seats instead of losing them to the Senate and the House of Reps. If they don’t, President Biden will be hamstrung. Democrats need to find ways to motivate the young to vote in 2022 by showing them how much is at stake for their future ie addressing global warming, wealth inequality, the cost of college.

    Yes, Lester, we need a Stacey Abrams in every state, more than ever.We need people like her because state legislatures are bent on suppressing the vote.

  13. McConnell will probably try to block any Biden appointment. He will exercise what ever power he has. Manchin, the DINO, is the real stab in the back. The GOP is doing the best it can to run out the clock on Biden, with the hopes that they can retake House and Senate in 2022.

    Jon @ 6:58 am, I do not believe declaring martial law is a path we want to go on. It sounds like a dictatorship to me. How much power will you allow this person to have??? There is not a good track record when power is concentrated in the hands of one person: Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Somoza, Marcos, etc.

    The die hard Trumper’s and the Reactionary Right Wing of the GOP are not going to vote for a “D”. Turnout will be critical in 2022, the GOP knows this and they doing what ever they can to contain it.

  14. Crazy thought of the day. Could Putin kidnap Biden and force the country to reinstate the Donald over threat of war?
    With Moscow Mitch’s help he could

  15. ML,

    I’m not seeing the problem!

    There is a reason why the founders allowed that tach in the Constitution!

    It’s kind of like when your phone gets all garbage dump and you hit the factory reset button! You get rid of all the garbage is been accumulated, the useless junk and things that you are just too preoccupied to pay attention to. Once that junk is cleaned out, you start fresh!

    It doesn’t matter if the GOP votes D or not, once the rules are changed, and you get rid of the electoral college and use a straight majority rules, and not have to deal with all of this nuanced foolishness that somehow passes for a democracy. I think that they would do it and do it right! What we have right now is a dictatorship and waiting anyway. Even now the GOP minority runs the show, how is that equal across the board?

    Time to hit the reset.

  16. Is it McConnell who is presiding over minority rule or the Democratic senators from Arizona and West Virginia? We can put up with a vote of conscience within our ranks but not one where a failure to vote with the caucus allows our democracy to be placed in the hands of Republican state legislators who prefer dictatorship over democracy, legislators and governors who are now talking indictment of teachers for teaching and rules against giving water to voters, legislators and governors who are determined to narrowly defining the right to vote to suit their own political advantage. Marc Elias rightly categorizes his lawsuits against such restrictive state laws as holding actions, advising us that we must have congressional action, i. e., the two bills soon up for a vote that our Democratic senators have, so far, said they will vote against. We got trouble, fellow Democrats, right here in river city.

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