There are all kinds of things wrong with the American political system. Members of both parties more interested in seeing the other one fail than success for the nation as a whole, members of Congress more interested in their own re-election chances than the important issues of the day, and garnering donations from big business instead of working for the best interest of the individual, just to name a few. But the 78 year-old poster child for Washington's broken system is Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell.
Most of the American public thinks the impeachment managers laid out a pretty good case that Donald Trump's words and actions incited the rioters that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. You saw videos of the mob members checking their phones to heed Trump's words. When the President of the United States, who seemed pleased that the insurrectionists were able to delay the certification of the November election for Joe Biden, finally, after hours of mayhem and death, finally sent a recorded message for the rioters to go home, the mob actually dispersed. Proof, to many, that if Trump had acted sooner, damage would have been minimal, and if Trump hadn't riled up the crowd in a speech earlier in the day, that a riot wouldn't have happened at all. Seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump, along with all 50 senate Democrats. Yes, it was a vote largely along party lines, but the real example of governmental ineptitude came after the roll call vote was taken.
The ayes were 57, and the nays were 43, but with a two-thirds vote needed to convict, Donald Trump was exonerated, at least politically. Majority leader Chuck Schumer used his time on the senate floor to blast Trump and the votes to acquit him, and then it was McConnell's turn.
For over nine minutes, McConnell spoke in the senate chamber and to the nation, reiterating the case that the prosecution had made in the preceding days. He called Trump's actions “disgraceful”, and a “dereliction of duty”. He said there was “no question” that Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” And this from the top Republican in the United States, and who voted not guilty. You knew a big 'but' was coming.
Almost halfway through his 20-minute address, it came. McConnell said that the Senate did not have the authority to impeach a President who is no longer in office, and added, “If President Trump were still in office, I would have carefully considered whether the House managers proved that specific charge [of inciting a riot].” That one sentence, after publicly condemning Trump's actions but not voting guilty, has a ton of hypocrisy attached to it.
First of all, McConnell inferred by that comment that he wasn't even listening to the prosecution's case, because he had already made up his mind that the case was irrelevant. He (and 99 other senators) had taken an oath to be impartial jurors, but that didn't matter to him.
Second, the issue of the constitutionality of the proceedings was addressed on the first day of the trial. The Senate voted 55 to 45 (five Republicans agreeing) that there was jurisdiction to impeach a president that is no longer in office. McConnell violated the rules of the trial set by his body, the United States Senate, and chose to be a stubborn child, and not play the rules because the vote didn't go the way he wanted.
And thirdly, and most importantly, the reason that Trump wasn't impeached while he was still in office is because McConnell himself wouldn't allow it. Before January 20, Republicans were in control of the Senate, and McConnell was the Majority Leader. He dictated the running of the Senate, when it was in session, and what issues would or would not come to the floor. McConnell made sure the Senate was in recess so the House couldn't deliver an article of impeachment to the floor.
For the first ten minutes of McConnell's speech on the floor, many viewers' jaws dropped because they couldn't believe that McConnell was condemning Trump even though he voted not guilty. For the next ten minutes, those mouths remained wide open because viewers couldn't believe he excoriated Trump in the first place, and is now using a constitutional excuse (former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton said later on CNN that the Constitution is not a technicality, not recognizing the issue was dealt with on the first day of the trial) to defend a not guilty vote.
Why say that Trump started the riot, and that the insurrectionists were there because of him, and that Trump could have stopped it? Why bother saying that? Most Republicans are still afraid of Trump politically if they go against him, or want Trump's money and donors for their campaigns when it comes re-election time. McConnell likely will, too. Right? The Sunday morning news programs suggest that McConnell would lose his leadership role, or have it greatly diminished, if he voted guilty. Power, not the people or the country, factored into McConnell's words this weekend.
There's a saying that you can't have your cake and eat it, too. In Washington you can. And this weekend, Mitch McConnell did.
No more love lost: A week before Valentine's Day and before the impeachment trial, these words exchanged between two top ranking House members, both from California. Regarding the vote to strip Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene of her committee memberships because of comments supporting Q-Anon beliefs, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, referring to Democrats, “If people are held to what they have said prior to even being in this House. If the majority party gets to decide who sits on what other committees, I hope you keep that standard, because we have a long list you can work with in your own.” Responding on NBC's Meet The Press February 7, Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said, “Look. Kevin McCarthy stands for nothing except the perpetuation of his own position. He has no values, and in my view, cares about little except for hoping to be Speaker one day. God forbid.” Not much reaching across the aisle there, huh?
Play ball!: To the fun and games department, baseball's Spring Training camps open this week, with pitchers and catchers reporting Wednesday or Thursday. Baseball is set to start on time this year, with 162 games, no designated hitter in the National League, and no expanded playoffs. There will be seven-inning doubleheaders and a runner at second base to start an extra inning. The first spring games are February 28, and the regular season gets underway on April 1.