An influential leader who protected Donald Trump during impeachment and hates the president is, however, his greatest ally.
On May 4, the Senate emerged from recess and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell directed his efforts toward an urgent issue. Combating the pandemic? No. Confirming an inexperienced and ultraconservative judge – who happens to be his political protégé – to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most powerful court in the country.
Justin Walker, 37, is a mediocre judge and a notorious enemy of former President Barack Obamas’ health care law. The Republicans hold a 51 to 49 Senate majority, an advantage Sen. McConnell has used to confirm more than 200 federal judges, many of them considered ultraconservative.
The Constitution provides that the Senate has the duty to oversee the executive branch. In November, McConnell, 78, will be running for his seventh term representing the state of Kentucky. Under his leadership, the Senate has not only failed to press the brakes on one of the most corrupt presidencies in recent American history, but it also has passed very little legislation. McConnell’s obsession is to stock the courts, and not because he is a profound thinker or ideologist.
To understand what motivates this politician, one needs only to know what he wrote on a blackboard when he taught in Louisville during the 70s about the three elements of political success: Money. Money. Money.
Few American politicians connect the financial and business elite with the electoral system as well as McConnell. His office in the Senate is a revolving door of staff who leave to become lobbyists to defend the interests of donors, such as cutting taxes or stopping legislation that protects the environment.
Other than anonymous funds accumulated by political actions committees, four of the five largest and well-known donors to McConnell’s campaign are Fox News executives, including founder Rupert Murdoch, and Fox News president Lachlan Murdoch, his son, among others.
Fox News guarantees Trump’s power, and recently increased its army of lawyers in the face of litigation due to its role in the spread of criminal disinformation regarding the seriousness of the pandemic. In addition to having the power to approve or block emergency aid packages in the effort against the pandemic, McConnell was one of the architects responsible for shrinking the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is a federal agency with a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19.
In an attempt to shut down “Obamacare,” McConnell tried to eliminate $1 billion (over 5.7 billion reals) designated for preventing and combating epidemics.
The Democrats resisted, but ultimately gave in, and a sizable amount of the CDC’s budget was diverted to fighting cancer.
People close to McConnell claim that he does not hide his contempt for Trump, whose presidential term he helped save by blocking testimony during the impeachment trial. These people also claim McConnell says Trump is mentally unbalanced and dense.
So why doesn’t McConnell openly criticize the president? There is more to the game than simply the financial support from his sponsors. In Kentucky, the sixth poorest state in the U.S., multimillionaire McConnell is far less popular than Trump.
In a recent article published in The New Yorker, one of McConnell’s old colleagues told reporter Jane Meyer to stop trying to find meaning in the senator’s political career. “He has no ideology except his own political power,” he said.
An unexperienced Democratic candidate, former Marine Corps aviator Amy McGrath, is raising funds at exceptional speed in order to challenge Sen. McConnell in November. In this nihilist vacuum, who knows if McGrath will use Sen. McConnell’s old teachings to bring an end to his political success.
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