McConnell Op-Ed Proves Talk Of Bipartisanship Is Part Of The Troll
Establishment Republicans get a thrill out of their own hypocrisy.
One week after the 2018 midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell published a Fox News.com op-ed warning the upcoming Democratic-controlled House against using their newfound majority to launch investigations into President Trump and members of his cabinet.
“There will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol,” he writes. “What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?”
McConnell’s call for bipartisanship was met with a collective eye roll, given his rise to power as the leader of the GOP effort to obstruct President Obama’s legislative agenda — most infamously blocking Obama’s chance to appoint a Supreme Court justice in 2016.
Of course none of this is mentioned in the op-ed. In fact, McConnell hardly mentions any bipartisan measures passed by the House. Instead, he heaps praise on the Senate for doing the bare minimum — pass a federal budget — and misleadingly frames the GOP tax cut and the latest Supreme Court confirmation as bipartisan accomplishments.
An op-ed calling Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation an example of the success Democrats and Republicans can have if they work together? Dare I say Mitch McConnell is just trolling the libs.
McConnell’s op-ed is actually part of a pattern Republicans have of invoking legitimate criticisms they get from the left in order to ‘own’ the left. Republicans aren’t simply being hypocrites or displaying a lack of self-awareness. They know they are the primary instigators of the things they are trying to troll liberals for, and they do it anyway.
Take for instance President Trump’s claim on the eve of the midterm elections that pollsters and cable news networks were attempting to suppress Republican votes by discussing polls that showed Democrats would very likely to take back the House.
In keeping with the theme of accusing Democrats of being the real proponents of voter suppression, President Trump took to Twitter to share his disapproval of a Florida recount in the senate and governor races, claiming Democratic operatives submitted fake ballots in order to sink Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis’ election night vote leads and hand the election to their opponents.
Of course, Republicans were behind the real efforts at voter suppression long before Election Day, and they contributed to many of the problems witnessed at polls across Florida and Georgia, including malfunctioning or inadequate numbers of voting machines, hours-long waiting times, missing or purged voter registrations, and in some cases, missing early voting ballots.
Despite telling voters to ignore the polls, only when it became clear from polls that there would be potentially historic turnout among Democratic voters did President Trump begin invoking the charge of voter suppression to claim Democrats were subverting the will of the people.
Speaking of popular will, remember when House Republicans passed a bill gutting the most popular provisions in the Affordable Care Act, namely the protections for people with pre-existing conditions? In the months leading up to the midterms, President Trump claimed that Democrats were actually the ones who wanted to get rid of these protections.
And let’s not forget about Press Secretary Sarah Sanders falsely accusing CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta of striking a female White House aide during a press conference just two weeks after the president praised a Republican congressman for body-slamming a reporter.
Do I think Sarah Sanders sat at her desk chuckling to herself while she typed up the tweet announcing Acosta’s press pass had been revoked? Probably not. But I find it very difficult to believe that she or anyone in the White House is unaware of the legitimate criticism Trump gets for inciting violence against the press, and doesn’t actively lie and promote conspiracy theories about reporters in order to defend him.
In Republicans’ minds, accusing liberals of doing something bad that they have also been accused of doing is not admitting the behavior is bad. It just means that liberals aren’t principled in their criticisms, and Republicans don’t have to be either.
This reinforces a recasting of politics as a contest between competing fictions: both sides lie, both sides are hypocritical, thus the goal of elections is to decide which fiction serves you best and defend it to death.
Over the past two years, pundits have described the president’s more formal, unifying tone in major speeches as Teleprompter Trump and his coarse rhetoric online and on the campaign trail as Twitter Trump. In reality, it’s all Twitter Trump all the time, trolling the press with fake deference to civility to the delight of those who know cruelty is all he’s good for.