Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time in cheerleading Trump’s bogus claim that he’s still President. In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell not only egged Trump on in pushing his fraudulent claim that he was cheated out of the Oval Office, but harped that Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to scream that there were “irregularities” in the voting. There is not a shred of evidence of any “irregularities” in the voting and McConnell almost certainly knows that. McConnell doubled down by not uttering a mumbling word about the outrage of Trump’s flat refusal to do anything to assist Biden in his transition to the Oval Office.
Yet, this is more than hot air and hyperbole on McConnell’s part He’s carefully and cynically laying down a gauntlet–brutal, direct, and unsparing–to Biden. It’s the same gauntlet that he laid down to then incoming President Obama in 2009. When, as the then Senate Minority Leader, McConnell quickly convened a meeting of GOP notables to concoct every scheme imaginable to wage political war against Obama. McConnell capped it with the boast that he would do everything he could to make Obama a one term president. That didn’t happen. But that didn’t stop McConnell and the GOP. He pivoted quickly and simply said he’d make his presidency a failed presidency. That didn’t happen either.
McConnell and the GOP, though, did mount a relentless and ruthless four-year campaign of hectoring, harassing, dithering, diddling, and obstructing many of Obama’s major initiatives. This was capped by McConnell’s flat refusal to consider Obama’s SCOTUS pick, Merrick Garland. Whether McConnell is Senate Majority or Minority Leader after the results of the Georgia run-off election in January 2021, he still will have a united, lock step GOP behind him. He’s armed with total mastery of all the parliamentary and legislative tricks of the Senate trade to stonewall Biden.
He has other potent weapons that he did not have in 2009 in the war against Obama. One is the 73 million voters that backed Trump. This is the greatest number of votes a losing candidate has gotten in a free election anywhere. Thousands of these voters are passionate, angered, and in more than a few cases violent. They have the mass power to disrupt. Almost certainly McConnell and the GOP will call on them to give vocal cover in the streets to McConnell’s Senate ploys to thwart Biden’s legislative initiatives.
He also has an endless bunch of shadowy GOP affiliated groups that will be well-financed and skilled in mobilizing and organizing much of Trump’s rabid vote base. That was on full display when tens of thousands of Trump backers harangued the SCOTUS in a march and rally with their war hoop that the election was stolen. This will be their hard mantra for every minute of Biden’s term.
Another weapon is the SCOTUS. McConnell will have a solid conservative majority high court behind him. He made sure of that by playing the long game and torpedoing Obama’s Garland SCOTUS nomination and shepherding Trump’s three rightist picks to the court. He bolstered that with his hand in glove machination with Trump to pack the federal judiciary with a bevy of ultra-conservative judges.
McConnell will also work the political landscape outside of the Senate. He’ll give aid, comfort, support, and lots of money to crucial down ballot GOP candidates in Senate and House races in the 2022 midterm elections. He whiffed opportunity when a crop of GOP candidates made a big inroad into whittling down the Democrats House majority in the presidential election. A GOP retake of the House combined with a GOP controlled Senate would ensure paralysis to anything that Biden and the Democrats try to push.
McConnell has already shown just how impossible it is to get around a McConnell legislative stonewall. He has said every way possible that he will never agree to the House passed COVID stimulus package. Not one GOP senator has broken ranks with him on this despite the colossal economic pain and suffering that failure to aid needy displaced workers and businesspersons has caused.
Biden has repeatedly said that he’s a healer and a unifier. His words are squarely aimed at McConnell. Biden knows full well how McConnell waged that his take no prisoner war against Obama. And that he’s loading up to do the same against his administration. However, all the soothing words of conciliation and compromise, and talk of reaching across the aisle to work together are alien concepts to McConnell and the GOP.
So, what’s left is that Biden will be forced to sign off on a rash of executive orders on education reforms and enhanced environmental and consumer financial protections. Predictably, when he does, he’ll be hit with a chorus of howls from McConnell and the GOP that he is a tyrant, dictator, and abusing the power of his office by usurping Congress.
It will be Obama redux all over again for Biden. With McConnell again taking the same great relish in torpedoing anything Biden tries to accomplish. It won’t be pretty.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of What’s Right and Wrong with the Electoral College (Middle Passage Press). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.