Mitch McConnell Begins to Contemplate His Legacy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is 76 years old, so it is probably not surprising that he is beginning to contemplate his legacy. Take a look at what he said during an interview with Bloomberg News:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blamed rising federal deficits and debt on a bipartisan unwillingness to contain spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and said he sees little chance of a major deficit reduction deal while Republicans control Congress and the White House…

“I think it would be safe to say that the single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue, and it’s a shame, because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for all,” he said. “I mean, my gosh, we can’t sustain the Medicare we have at the rate we’re going and that’s the height of irresponsibility.”

Never mind that it was McConnell’s $1.5 trillion tax cut that made the deficit explode, the Republican Majority Leader’s single biggest disappointment for his time in Congress has been his failure to use the deficits he helped create as an excuse to hurt senior citizens and poor people by decimating entitlement programs. Isn’t that special?

It wasn’t that long ago that McConnell was celebrating his greatest accomplishment.

“You’ve heard me say before that I thought the decision I made not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Scalia died was the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career. The things that will last the longest time, those are my top priorities.”

He’s actually proud of the fact that he took a sledge hammer to Senate norms in order to completely politicize Supreme Court confirmations. But as a reminder, that isn’t McConnell’s only legacy. Ed Kilgore summed up the rest quite nicely.

There was his career-long fight against campaign-finance reform, culminating in the legal battle that led to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. There was his famous strategic plan to make total obstruction of Barack Obama, rather than any positive agenda, the focal point for Senate Republicans, which contributed to the poisonous atmosphere that eventually produced President Trump. And speaking of Trump, there was McConnell’s refusal to go along with Obama’s request for a bipartisan warning about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections…

Mitch McConnell might have failed to stick it to senior citizens and poor people, but he will go down in history as the man who:

  • paved the way for an infusion of dark money into politics,
  • built on the legacy of Newt Gingrich to poison the political atmosphere,
  • chose party power games over national security, and
  • politicized Supreme Court confirmations.

That might rank up there as one of the most powerful legacies of anyone who has ever served in the United States Senate—and of course I don’t mean that in a good way.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.