Mitch McConnell is big on that old “second kick of a mule” Kentucky saying. I’m guessing we could find him invoking it even before 2013. With his leadership gone AWOL over the past month’s government shutdown, he has become famous (infamous?) for it. But has he really learned from it? Does he really know what it means? Mitch’s latest publicly acknowledged mule kick came from an orange-haired ass in the White House. (scroll down for full article)
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First Kick of the Mule
“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he will not allow another government shutdown as part of a strategy to repeal Obamacare. McConnell (Ky.) told The Hill … his party learned a painful political lesson over the past 16 days, as its approval rating dropped while the government was shuttered. He said there’s no reason to go through the political wringer again. … ‘One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. … There will not be [another] government shutdown.’”
(Bolton, Alexander; “GOP’s McConnell Promises No More Shutdowns Over Obamacare”; The Hill; 10/17/2013.)
Second Kick of the Mule
“One of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s guiding principles is: ‘There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.’ Now, deep into a government shutdown he cautioned President Donald Trump against, McConnell is not about to let himself be kicked again. The Republican leader has been conspicuously deferential to Trump since the shutdown began. He’s waiting on the president and Democrats to make a deal to end it. The result is an unusually inactive profile for the GOP leader. …
“‘A few years ago, Leader McConnell remarked, “Remember me? I’m the guy that gets us out of shutdowns,”’ said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, unearthing an interview McConnell did some years ago. ‘Well, Leader McConnell, now’s the time … allow a vote on legislation and reopen the government.’”
(“McConnell’s Maneuvers Take Backseat to Trump in Shutdown”; U.S. News & World Report; 1/18/2019)
Third Kick of the Mule
“‘We’ve been down this path before,’ [Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] warned before President Trump launched the 35-day shutdown that ended Friday. ‘There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.’ So when Trump — who won exactly nothing in his standoff with Democrats — threatened to shut the government again in coming weeks, [Mitch] seemed to be hankering for the third kick of the mule.”
(McManus, Doyle; “Trump’s Looking for Trouble by Threatening New Shutdown”; Los Angeles Times; 1/30/2019.)
Old Kentucky Sayings
Mitch McConnell is big on that old “second kick of a mule” Kentucky saying. I’m guessing we could find him invoking it even before 2013. With his leadership gone AWOL over the past month’s government shutdown, he has become famous (infamous?) for it.
But has he really learned from it? Does he really know what it means?
Mitch’s latest publicly acknowledged mule kick came from an orange-haired ass in the White House.
Just before the federal government was scheduled to run out of Congressionally authorized funds to keep it running, President Trump threatened not to sign a spending bill without border wall funding, which would result in a government shutdown. As we see from Mitch’s sentiments above, he’s aware that shutdowns generally are bad for Republicans’ political health. So he advised the president against it, especially considering that Donald said in a televised meeting with House Democratic leader Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Schumer Dec. 11, 2018, “I’ll be the one to shut it down. I will take the mantle.”
Mitch McConnell knew Trump and the Republicans would shoulder the bulk of the blame for a shutdown. He’s smart that way. So he convinced the president to sign a compromise bill with no immediate border wall funding (wall money would be negotiated later). Donald assured Mitch he would sign that bill. McConnell pushed it through the Senate by near-unanimous voice vote. Just before the bill was to go to the GOP-controlled House for virtually assured passage, ultra-right media pundit-style entertainers Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and others spoke out to their listeners: “Uh, uh, uh! Trump is caving to Democrats on the wall he promised us!” The president immediately soiled his pants at the thought of crossing his base of supporters. He reversed himself and refused to sign the bill.
By the way, Why is President Trump so afraid of upsetting Limbaugh, Coulter, and other thought-leaders of his base? Because with their influence over Republican legislators who are terrified of being primary-ed in future elections, they likely will be the last thing standing between Donald and an all-expenses paid stay at Club Fed. But that’s a story for another day.
So Trump reversed his support for the bill, prompting a shutdown. Never mind that he had already talked all this through with his advisers. Never mind that he has said 212 times (give or take) that Mexico would be paying for the wall (even pocketing a $20 billion check from Mexico’s president during a 2016 Saturday Night Live skit). Never mind that he has had two years to work with obsequious Republicans who have controlled the House and Senate, and Trump and the lot of them never fought much for border wall funding. Virtually every thinking person — and also Donald himself — realized the 2,000-mile southern border wall was an insincere campaign promise-lie.
But Dec. 22, 2018, with Democrats taking control of the House in less than two weeks, Trump ignored his advisers and allies in Congress, changed his insecure mind on an equivocal dime, and gave Mitch McConnell a gold old-fashioned (second) Kentucky mule kick. The Trump shutdown had begun.
“Democrats complain publicly — and some Republicans grumble privately — that the Senate is not fulfilling its role as a co-equal branch of government, a legislative check on the executive. They worry about ordinary Americans facing hardship waiting for a resolution to the standoff over Trump’s demand for money to build the border wall with Mexico. But the Kentucky Republican [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell], who is up for re-election in 2020 in a state where Trump tends to be more popular than he is, sees no other choice than to stand back and let the president who took the country into the shutdown decide how he wants to get out of it.”
(Ibid.; “McConnell’s Maneuvers”; 1/18/2019)
The Education in That Second Mule Kick? Redirect the Third Kick
After Trump went back on his word, mule-kicking the Senate majority leader, McConnell had a choice of two perspectives: 1) “This recalcitrant president needs direction and checking from me and my Senate, to coerce him into doing the right thing”; or, 2) “This recalcitrant president made me look bad and endangered my political support. Therefore, I will surrender my leadership role to him and leave the country at his mercy.”
Mitch McConnell chose the latter. His version of avoiding the third kick was to take no action, put forth no legislation unless the president guaranteed he would support it — you know, the way he guaranteed to support the first bill. This would ensure no further embarrassment to Mitch, especially in his own state. It would also ensure maximum pain to a country at the megalomaniacal mercy of an incompetent president, including the 800,000 federal workers without pay and the many more workers in peripheral private industries, large and small — not to mention weakened national security, endangered airline travel, and the loss of numerous other important government services.
McConnell’s way of avoiding the third kick of the mule was to let the country suffer indefinitely until Donald felt enough of the political pain produced by his stupidity, inanity, and selfishness. Mitch’s plan was to let the country be kicked by the presidential mule instead of him, because Senate checks would require leadership, which might require appearing out of step with Trump, which would be harmful to Mitch’s political health.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats took control of the House Jan. 3, 2019. They immediately passed the identical spending/funding bill the Republican Senate passed in December, before Trump had bailed on them. The still Republican-controlled Senate refused to take it up again. Political experts on both sides were clamoring for McConnell and the Senate to work with the House to formulate a bill from both chambers that would put pressure on Trump to sign it. Mitch refused. He would not be kicked again — the country be damned.
How does that other old saying go? “Kick me once, shame on you. Kick me twice, won’t get kicked again.” (— thanks to George W. Bush for the basis of that paraphrase).
The Other Education in That Other Second Mule Kick? Impede Voting Rights …
Ultimately, after 35 days, the president relented after his poll numbers plunged and nationwide air travel slowed due to grave safety concerns. Also, Donald needed to take the story off Roger Stone (Trump friend and adviser of three decades-plus) and his indictment for Russia-related lying, obstruction, and witness tampering. President Trump signed a bill to keep the government open for three more weeks. He has reserved the right to shut it down again if he doesn’t get his wall money down payment.
“There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.”
Oh, but there is. Obamacare-repeal hardliner Republicans first mule-kicked Mitch in 2013, resulting in a 16-day shutdown blamed on the GOP. Trump mule-kicked him again last December. Mitch McConnell’s education from that second kick by Donald is this: “Let the third, fourth, or fifth kick go anywhere else except my behind.” U.S. federal workers? The American people? “Better their derrieres than mine.”
Mitch’s second phase of education, coming from a second mule kick to his party, is his opposition to House Democrats’ bill to strengthen voting rights:
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that a Democratic bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘power grab.’ … McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats ‘want taxpayers on the hook for generous new benefits for federal bureaucrats and government employees,’ including making Election Day a ‘new paid holiday for government workers.’
“‘So this is the Democrats’ plan to “restore democracy,”’ McConnell said, describing the legislation as ‘a political power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.’ The far-reaching legislation would also prohibit the purging of voter rolls, require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns, compel states to adopt independent redistricting commissions, and create a matching system for small-dollar donations to congressional campaigns, among other changes. … McConnell mocked the legislation as the ‘Democrat Politician Protection Act.’ ‘H.R. 1 would victimize every American taxpayer by pouring their money into expensive new subsidies that don’t even pass the laugh test,’ McConnell said on the Senate floor. His remarks prompted a wave of criticism by Democrats, some of whom argued that McConnell was acknowledging that Republicans want to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.”
(Sonmez, Felicia; “McConnell Says Bill That Would Make Election Day a Federal Holiday Is a ‘Power Grab’ by Democrats”; The Washington Post; 1/30/2019.)
Laugh test!? Mitch, you don’t even pass the smell test. And it’s “Democratic,” you adolescent insult-throwing idiot, not “Democrat,” when used as an adjective. Of course, you know that. But what do your continuous grade-school put-downs say about you? That you stink and don’t pass the smell test, of course.
How does Mitch’s 2019 opposition to this bill comprise his attempt to avoid a third voting-rights kick of the mule to his party?
The first kick was passage of the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1964. This is the one that outlawed poll taxes for voting in federal elections. Nothing wrong with poll taxes except they keep poor people from voting. And poor people generally don’t favor Republicans. How in the world did the GOP ever let the Twenty-fourth Amendment get by them? They won’t let that happen again.
Oops. Then came passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the second kick of the voting-rights mule. This one is famous for, you know, letting every eligible American citizen register and vote, not just those of European Caucasian descent who can afford the poll tax. Funny thing: non-European, non-Caucasian Americans don’t vote Republican as much as their white Anglo-Saxon counterparts.
Behold Mitch’s education from yet another second kick of the mule — the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
… by Calling It a “Power Grab”
In response to McConnell’s opposition to the current House voting rights bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “Why are Republicans always afraid of making it easier for Americans to vote?” Of course, Chuck already knows the answer: For various reasons, a larger voter turnout almost always favors Democrats.
“Ezra Levin, a former Capitol Hill staffer who co-founded the Indivisible network of liberal activist groups, accused McConnell of ‘rehearsing old lines.’ ‘In 1977, after Watergate and Nixon, Jimmy Carter was inaugurated and proposed expansive reforms to campaign finance and to make it easier to vote,’ Levin said on Twitter. ‘The GOP called it a ‘power grab’ and killed it in the Senate.’”
(Ibid.; Sonmez; 1/30/2019.)
In 1977, the voting-rights mule tried to kick the Republican Party again. It whiffed. In 2019, the Party of Trump, the Grand Old Party, is attempting to avoid another, third voting-rights ass-kicking.
(All right. I know. An ass is technically not a mule. But the synonymetry was just too good to be lost on a technicality.)
[OLD KENTUCKY SAGE]: “There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.”
[MITCH MCCONNELL]: “Oh, yes there is. I learned to redirect the third kick and call it a ‘power grab.’” ■
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