Leadership. You hear the word every day, in a dozen different contexts. We all know what it means, but what is it? You can take two people with identical skill sets, identical training, identical experience, and identical personalities, but when the shot goes down, one of them will step into the breach, and start taking charge, the other will follow. It can’t be bought or borrowed, it just is. And when you have it, it shows, as bright as a new sunrise.
The hell with “the most powerful man in the world,” the President isn’t even the most powerful man in Washington. The president can’t even make a simple law. He can send a draft to congress, but it’s the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader who actually propose, write, and pass bills. If they refuse to consider his request, he’s as dead as Paddy’s pig. All this President, with the IQ of cole slaw mi, gets to do is to sign the damn thing with his Sharpie.
Whatever you think of her, personally or professionally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has leadership to spare. In January of 2011, Pelosi handed the Speakers gavel to John Boehner, mainly because she showed leadership in whipping her caucus to pass The Affordable Care Act, which provided millions of Americans with healthcare, knowing as she did it that it would likely cost her her Speakership.
In 2018, she showed leadership again. Pelosi could see the blue wave coming, but she also knew that in order to ride it, the Democrats would have to win seats in traditional GOP suburban districts. These are places where Pelosi was unpopular, and the Republican incumbents and the RCCC and associated PAC’s hit her hard. Rather than expect loyalty from people who didn’t even answer to her yet, she quietly got the word to them that if distancing themselves from her was the path to victory, then so be it. As Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis used to say, Just WIN, baby! After the election, rather than risk a contentious floor fight, Pelosi chose to pake power sharing concessions to her new freshman caucus, hoping to ensure a more unified caucus.
And Pelosi has shown leadership again in 2019. Those who have read me for a while now, know that I’ve swung like a pendulum with Pelosi over impeachment, finally, like the grandfather clock in a horror movie, stopping in the middle. At first, I sided with Pelosi about not impeaching Trump over an issue nobody understood, or would support. When Trump only became more emboldened, feeling that he was safe from retaliation, I rasped at her apparent refusal to acknowledge that at some point, duty to oath and country overrides political considerations. And now I’m just glad that we finally have an issue that works, and recognizing it, Pelosi is all in. And while Pelosi herself did not favor impeachment for the longest time, she recognized that the decision was a personal and a moral one, as well as a political one, and gave her caucus the freedom to make their own decisions and announcements without fear of recrimination or retribution. That’s leadership.
There can no longer be much doubt about it, Donald Juan Trump is going to be impeached in the US House of Representatives, with or without bipartisan Republican input. The Democrats are dong it right, they are taking enough time to negate the “rush to judgement” cop out, they’re talking to the right people, and demanding the right documents to show without a doubt that Trump’s actions were intentionally criminal, and they’re already advertising that any acts of obstruction will be taken as prima facie counts of obstruction of congress. Trump is going down in the House
Which brings us to the other most powerful person in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. What stellar acts of courage and leadership has good ol’ Yertl McTurtle displayed lately? Well, let’s see. On inauguration night of 2009, McConnell held a secret leadership meeting in a DC restaurant, where he proposed to make Barack Obama a one term president by obstructing every single thing that Obama tried to do. Obama ended up passing the ACA, and went on to stomp Mitt Romney to win reelection in 2012, so much for the best laid plans.
McConnell’s other leadership style can be summed up in two words, Fuck him. Obama wants to cover 20 million Americans with healthcare. Fuck him. Obama wants to isolate China economically with a new pacific trade agreement. Fuck him. Obama found a way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Fuck him. Obama wants to help to save the planet. Fuck him. Are you starting to see a pattern of redundancy there? What leadership!
Since Donald Trump took office, to say that Mitch McConnell has abdicated his responsibilities, including leadership, is the understatement of the century. Not only has McConnell slavishly carried Trump’s water to the point that it has saddled him with the nickname Moscow Mitch, which drives him criminally insane, but he has cut his own caucus off at the knees, refusing to bring popular legislation to the floor for a vote if Trump won’t sign it. This is killing his own members, who can’t even go home to their states and say that they voted for universal background checks, or even red flag laws, but the President wouldn’t sign them. Instead, he is painting them as obstructionists.
Mitch McConnell is about to find himself in a situation that is eerily similar to the one that Nancy Pelosi faced in 2009 and again in 2018 and 2019. McConnell has 23 GOP incumbents up for reelection this year, and another 8-9 I believe in 2022, and Donald Trump is becoming an increasingly heavy albatross around their necks. There are several states presumably red enough to be able to force compliance with the mantra of Trump, but there are several others including Colorado, Arizona, and Maine, where being a card carrying Trumpista figures to be a serious, if not fatal shortcoming.
So, what does Mitch McConnell do? In 2018 and 2019, Nancy Pelosi gave her members the freedom to make the choices that were not only best for them politically, but offered them the opportunity to voice and vote their moral convictions. Senior GOP strategist Mike Murphy has said several times recently that, in a private discussion with a current GOP Senator, said Senator told him that if the ballot in the Senate were a secret ballot, 30 GOP Senators would vote to convict Trump. It is highly unlikely that an actual Senate vote would be anywhere near that high.
But what does McConnell do? Does he give his members the freedom to make the choice that is most politically, as well as possibly morally expedient to them, and hope to save the Senate, where at least he can continue to thwart a Democratic president by refusing to even bring judicial nominations to the floor for a vote, or or does he show one last Gotterdammerung act of loyalty to Glorious Bleater, and risk turning over total control of government to the democrats in 2020? because that simple, binary choice is most likely the one about to confront him, he can’t have it both ways.
Everything i have seen of Mitch McConnell shows him to be a small, petty man, obsessed with his own personal power, and rumored to be a vindictive son of a bitch. But in the moment of existential threat to his party, like Pelosi, does Mitch McConnell have that one act of selfless courage, to put the needs and benefits of others above those of his own? From everything I’ve seen of McConnell, the answer is a resounding NO! For which I would be eternally grateful. Because, even with the occasional frustrations, and throwing shit off of the walls, I’ll take Pelosi in a heartbeat.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen