Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy Have One Brain and No Heart Between Them

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy Have One Brain and No Heart Between Them 1

Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer started talking to each other a few weeks ago.

It began with a confab in Schumer’s car and continued long enough for McConnell to clear the way for Democrats to raise the debt ceiling Thursday afternoon. This follows on McConnell killing a serious threat last Friday by two Senators to shut down the government unless Biden withdrew his vaccine mandates. The Old Crow, as Trump derides him, delivered 13 votes for infrastructure, to give his 2022 candidates ribbon-cutting opportunities but also because it was the right thing to do for the nation’s falling down bridges and roads.

It shouldn’t be news that the Senate Minority Leader talked to Schumer—Bob Dole talked to Tom Daschle all the time–but one-on-one in today’s toxic atmosphere is as rare as a total eclipse of the sun. The two are never going to throw back Kentucky bourbons on the Majority Leader’s balcony, but slipping off together instead of communicating through aides and the press is a start.

There’s little chance of a similar thaw in the House. The war between House Minority “Leader” Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains hot.

From his permanent position on Donald Trump’s lap, Kevin McCarthy remained strenuously opposed to lifting the debt ceiling and in favor of a government shutdown and reminded McConnell of his prior vow to never, ever help those truffle-eating, big spending Democrats. Trump, who accumulated the largest deficit in history when he was president, piled on from Mar a Lago, slamming McConnell for giving up the “debt ceiling card” for “nothing.” Nothing? We don’t know exactly what would happen to the party perceived to run out on the check for years of four-star meals, but McConnell is not dumb enough to find out.

Since neither McConnell nor McCarthy has a beating heart, and only one has a brain, it’s hard to tell how much the congressional leaders don’t like each other. It’s part of McCarthy’s repertoire to sniff at elitists, and what is the Senate if not the “upper” chamber. To the stoic McConnell, 79, McCarthy, 56, is a whippersnapper who worked in the district office of a Bakersfield congressman when McConnell was swiftly ascending the slippery pole to Majority Leader. Both of them are Irish, which can’t help.

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy after their meeting with President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders in May.

Nicholas Kamm/Getty

McCarthy once said the quiet part out loud, to Sean Hannity on Fox News of course, about how, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable,” until “we put together a Benghazi special committee.”

That was in 2015, when McConnell, asked about McCarthy then running to replace John Boehner, said, “I’m not going to give any advice to the House… about their various leadership questions. Occasionally, they like to give us advice.” Mic drop. McCarthy abruptly withdrew from the Speaker’s race that Paul Ryan went on to win.

It’s no surprise then that the pair are never going to put on Washington Nationals jerseys after a hard day legislating and go off to the ballpark. But it’s worse than that..McCarthy is such a captive of Trump, on strict orders from Mar a Lago to oppose anything the illegitimate president is for, everyone knows he’s not his own man, forever the substitute teacher with his charges running wild. When Lauren Boebert sent out a copycat Christmas card, mimicking that of Rep. Thomas Massie who decked out his family with assault weapons and asked Santa for “more ammo,” McCarthy may not have been amused but he was quiet, even though the Yuletide missives came only days after four teenagers were killed in a school shooting.

Trump’s fury with the Old Crow keeps rising yet McConnell stands his ground as he sees fit. McCarthy quivers in his boots if Trump wrinkles his brow, even as the former president primaries his incumbents anyway. He’s deluded if he thinks Trump will support him for Speaker, unless it turns out to be in his interest, no matter how much he indulges the antics of Trump’s MAGA squad in his caucus.

Boebert has yet to be disciplined for half-joking that she wasn’t afraid to share an elevator with Rep. Ilhan Omar as long as she wasn’t wearing a backpack. Into the deafening silence from leadership came conservative Rep. Nancy Mace asking everyone to “lower the temperature.” Just that was enough to ignite the perpetually half lit fuse of Marjorie Taylor Greene who called Mace “trash” and told her to go hang with the “Jihad Squad.” And we think Instagram is full of mean girls.

As much as McCarthy coddled his most servile flunky, Devin Nunes, making one of the least intelligent members the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Nunes is leaving Congress for the greener pastures. Instead of being paid by the taxpayer to carry water for Trump, he will do it directly by running Trump’s new media company. Were Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle not available, or Elizabeth Holmes? Nunes might want to check with Rudy about getting paid, and with the feuding Lin Wood and Sidney Powell about how to deal with the SEC investigation into the SPAC Trump merged with that raised nearly $300 million in a few weeks.

At least McCarthy will always have his friend and one-time Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows, unless he has to drop him under orders from a vengeful Trump. Trying to temporarily stall the Jan. 6 committee, Trump’s last and least chief of staff turned over thousands of documents, many smoking guns among them, including one which came out Thursday proposing to overturn the election by declaring “a NatSec emergency and have VP Pence delay Biden’s certification” and another ”to declare all electronic voting invalid.”

Before this, Trump was furious with his former chief of staff for his new book revealing that Trump tested positive for COVID two days before his first debate with Biden and a week before he was hospitalized, with enough time in between to expose as many as 500 people as he threw numerous parties, including one for new Justice Amy Coney Barrett (which may be where Chris Christie was infected) and another for Gold Star families he then claimed might have infected him.

To crawl back into Trump’s good graces, Meadows said his own book was “fake news’ and then reneged on his agreement to testify before the Jan. 6 committee and now faces a contempt vote Monday and possible jail time, without the possibility of a pardon. Another federal court ruling Thursday that Trump had no standing to keep his White House records secret renders a suit Meadows filed challenging the committee even more ludicrous.

It’s hard to believe that hundreds of grown-ups give up their lunch money to a bully without a fight. In reality, Trump is powerless except for what the party hands him. He just lured former Senator and alleged inside trader David Perdue into challenging the reelection campaign of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, after Perdue said, likely under orders from Mar a Lago, that he would have refused to certify Georgia’s election returns unlike that quisling Kemp. The upshot may be the election of the Democrat Stacey Abrams.

Trump’s criminal presidency brought out all the monsters lurking in the Republican party since Newt Gingrich gleefully welcomed the Tea Party, turned governing into bloodsport, and greased the skids for Trump’s rise. Fast forward to the current Republican Congress resisting two federal voting rights bills needed to counteract more than a dozen state legislatures working furiously to ensure the next time Trump falsely claims victory, he has partisan hacks in office ready to back him up. Unlike when Brad Raffensperger and other stalwarts who stood up to Trump, there will be operators standing by in 2024 to take Trump’s call to find those 11,870 votes.

Who counts the vote is the first thing to go in authoritarian countries, ones where we used to monitor elections for integrity. What’s next, calling out the military and holding a new election if, at first, you don’t prevail? Trump and Gen. Michael Flynn already entertained that.

It’s no mystery why we’re no longer ranked among the top 30 democracies in the world. We’re being led by officials who fear that a defeated, impaired, and ruthless man might say something nasty about them. That’s why McConnell speaking to the opposition and “caving” on the debt ceiling, as Trump saw it, is significant. Unlike McCarthy, he’s not so afraid anymore.