While we fuss and fume about so much of the foolishness we see coming from Washington, we should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER forget that at its core, politics is as much about gamesmanship as anything else. Like a game of chess, it is about who can outmaneuver the guy on the other side of the issue.
Power drives it all. Sure we hear all the rhetoric about how we need to take care of the mamas and the little chillun–but we want to make damn sure that my side is calling the shots on how this is done.
For proof, just look at how these final days of the Trump administration are unfolding. It all begins with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. At the moment–and since 2015–he has been the most powerful person on Capitol Hill. He has had absolute power. And he liked it.
But that now ends with the new administration and the Democrats gaining control of the Senate. So McConnell is in a position he’s long held, how do i wheel and deal and come out the best I can.
There are 100 U.S. Senators. This may well be the most exclusive club in the land. Everything is based on tradition and seniority. They do not abide “shooting stars” well. Those who reach the top do so by paying their dues.
McConnell was elected to the Senate in 1985. He served in local office before that. No one from Kentucky has ever risen to this height in the Senate. Trump was an interloper. He had not paid the price. He did not understand or respect the institution. He thought everyone was only there to do his bidding.
McConnell looked at him with contempt. He did not respect him. He toted Trump’s water as long as he could and kept his mouth shut. He knew Trump was a conman. And most importantly, he knew one day Trump would be gone and he would not.
McConnell is surrounded by people like him. Long-serving, patient, obey the rules. Alabama’s senior Senator is Richard Shelby. He was elected to the Senate in 1986. He served two terms in the state senate and two terms in Congress before that. Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware was elected in 2001. Prior to that he was in Congress and also governor.
Let’s not forget Joe Biden. He served in the Senate from 1973 to 2009. He and McConnell served for 24 years together. They were molded by the same norms.
They were mentored and nourished and counseled by stalwarts like Howard Baker, Robert Byrd, Bob Doyle, Fritz Hollins, Dale Bumpers and John Glenn. They were men of character and integrity. They were trustworthy, they respected their peers, they understood bipartisanship.
John Glenn asked President Obama to speak at his funeral. He didn’t even want Trump to attend the service.
McConnell and Trump come from two different worlds. Their marriage has been estranged at best. It is about to cease to exist. The signals McConnell has been sending in the last week are not unexpected.