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Monday, July 31, 2017

Mitch McConnell Gets the Sads

One of my favorite words is schadenfreude. It's German for, roughly, the pleasure one derives from watching other people suffer. Only the Germans could have come up with that word.

For progressives, there was plenty of schadenfreude to go around when the Senate defeated the amendment to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, 51-49. The deciding vote was cast by John McCain, standing right in front of the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

This was one of the most exciting Senate events in many years. It seems that every day there was a new vote, and McConnell could never get all 52 Republicans to go his way. A few would peel off for some reason or other. However, the vote to advance the bill to be voted on (sometimes the Senate rules sound bonkers) did get through, with VP Mike Pence breaking the tie.

This was when John McCain, just about eight days after having surgery that revealed brain cancer, came back to Washington to vote. He made a passionate speech about how the Senate should work together for the good of the country, but then voted to advance the bill anyway. He was pilloried by progressives--here was a man who was known for his courage, who had just come from a procedure paid for by fantastic health care benefits, and he voted to strip millions from their health care.

Perhaps this reached through to McCain. Did his staff enlighten him? (It's hard to believe McCain uses Twitter or Facebook). Sometimes a hue and cry can be so loud that it actually gets through, and the vote to deny McConnell and his cadre what they wanted can be directly linked to protest.

For whatever reason, McCain provided the third vote the Democrats needed. To be fair, the real heroes are Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who all along voted against the bill. President Trump sent an attack dog, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to threaten to remove some of what Alaska gets if she didn't tow the line. She didn't. And isn't that extortion?

I tuned in after McCain's vote, but have watched the video several times--it is fascinating. McCain strides in, after the roll was already being called (you hear Gary Peters of Michigan voting no). McCain, like a regular at a restaurant getting service ahead of others, gets the attention of the clerk. Dramatically, he gives a thumbs down and says, "No." Gasps and applause erupt. For one second McCain looks at McConnell, who is standing with arms folded, staring at him. McCain moves on, and McConnell turns away, realizing his seven years of work had gone down the drain.

McConnell then spoke after the amendment was defeated. It was the saddest speech I've ever heard without actual tears being spilled. He bemoaned how this was a blow to the American people, even though the bill had only a 16 point approval rating. Somehow removing 16 million people from their insurance benefits was something that was going to make America great again.

McConnell, whose picture could be put by the word hypocrite in the dictionary, also bemoaned the stoppage of votes on nominations. That's rich, coming from a man who essentially stole a Supreme Court appointment.

Mitch McConnell, whose lack of a chin (normally I don't like to refer to someone's appearance) makes him look even more shifty than he is, has got to be one of the most hated men in America. He's done more to elude democracy than anyone before. Kentucky keeps sending him back, though, and he won't be up for re-election until 2022. By then he'll be 81. Hopefully he'll retire, facing being in the minority in the Tulsi Gabbard or Kamala Harris presidency.

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