Bill Straub: ‘The era of bipartisanship is over,’ McConnell declared; he should know since he killed it

Bill Straub: ‘The era of bipartisanship is over,’ McConnell declared; he should know since he killed it

What is a great nation to do when one of its top elected leaders overtly declares “the era of bipartisanship is dead,” thus imploding any attempt at future compromise? One who blithely acknowledges that any Democratic president’s nominee to the Supreme Court won’t get a fair shake if the Republican Party he leads in the Senate assumes control of the chamber?
A leader who, rather than advance the interests of the nation he purportedly serves, maintains he is “100 percent” focused on “stopping this administration,” which happens to be led by a Democrat, President Joe Biden? A man who blocks a necessary investigation into a failed insurrection against the United States of America simply because it might place his political party in a bad light? One who blocks efforts to make it easier for American citizens to exercise their franchise, especially African-Americans who have for centuries essentially been excluded from the process.

Apparently, there’s nothing to be done at this stage with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Louisville, who smugly continues to make a mockery of the nation’s democratic processes. With an evenly split Senate where 60 out of 100 available votes are necessary to move vital legislation, McConnell seems all-too-pleased to ground the nation’s legislature into dirt.

Addison Mitchell McConnellThe NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at

What has become increasingly obvious is that Addison Mitchell McConnell represents a greater danger to the body politic than anyone since President Richard “I am not a crook’’ Nixon. Tailgunner Joe McCarthy has nothing on this guy as he spits on the government based on the consent of the governed conceived by Jimmy Madison and the boys.

And, yes, he presents a greater danger to all that’s holy than the canned yam that once haunted 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Donald Trump was a buffoon, pure and simple, who couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the C and the A. America survived that demagogue but it was, admittedly, a close call.

And now there’s Mitch, who will stop at nothing to regain the majority he so desperately covets in the 2022 congressional elections.

The record establishes McConnell’s maneuvers over the past 15 years give or take are not normal. The American way of government requires some degree of cooperation and compromise in order to operate. He is having none of it. McConnell isn’t dumb, and more’s the pity. The wiles he displays are never for the advancement of good, only to allow him to adopt a perverted Pac-Man-like persona to gulp down power for the sake of power.

And power is the only commodity he recognizes. McConnell has served in the U.S. Senate since 1985 and throughout all that time he has never sponsored a major piece of legislation that passed muster. Even in his early years McConnell was not noted for pushing legislation but opposing it, leading ironically to some ugly confrontations with the late Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, over the issue of campaign finance reform.

But boy he loves to hold the power that allows him to consistently place party over country.

His declaration regarding the demise of bipartisanship is particularly telling. McConnell would have you believe that the Democrats are the guilty party here, refusing to proffer sufficient concessions on an infrastructure bill to meet his requirements, although it remains doubtful Democrats can propose anything to meet those requirements. That has always been McConnell’s modus operandi – make outlandish demands and then accuse the Democrats of refusing to deal in good faith. All the while it’s obvious McConnell is pulling the con job.

In fact the end of the era of bipartisanship pretty much started in 2011 under his watch when he and fellow Republicans set out to undermine the agenda of then-President Barack Obama, using the filibuster as a cudgel.
The first time the number of cloture votes – a parliamentary procedure that require 60 votes to permit the Senate to proceed on to legislation – exceeded 100 was during the 110th Congress which had a Democratic Senate majority. Republicans, who staged most of the tactics, were led by, you guessed it, Mitch McConnell.

It’s been Katy bar the door ever since. The number of votes to end a filibuster reached 252 during the 113th Congress in 2013-2014 when Democrats retained the majority and Obama was president. Once again, as is obvious by now, McConnell was the GOP leader.

Once Republicans gained the majority the number of cloture votes subsided somewhat until it catapulted under a Democratic majority during the final year of the Trump administration, 2019-2020, to 328. But make no mistake – the persistent use of the filibuster, intended to halt the progress of any legislation, became popular while McConnell was the GOP leader. Already during the current 117th Congress, 62 cloture motions have been filed.

It hasn’t always been this way. Howard Baker, of Tennessee, and Robert Dole, of Kansas, both served as Senate Republican leaders with distinction. They were most assuredly on the conservative side but you never witnessed from them the sort of abuse of power easily associated with McConnell. Both men had essentially the same tools to work with as McConnell. But both men had character – integrity, trustworthiness and a sense of fair play, qualities where Mitch winds up owing points.

And Democrats in recent history, save for the time in purgatory under Trump when his abuses proved to hard to swallow, have exhibited signs of bipartisanship. When Republican President George W. Bush assumed office in 2001 his priority was education reform, which took the shape of the No Child Left Behind Act. Despite some hesitation, 197 Democrats joined with 186 Republicans in the House to adopt the measure. It passed in the Senate 87-10 with once again, a majority of Democrats siding with a Republican president.

When Bush in 2002 sought authorization to use force in Iraq, the resolution passed both the House and Senate with Democratic votes. In the upper chamber, 29 Democrats supported the resolution, including then-Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton, D-NY and a fellow named Biden.

It was a terrible mistake, mind you, but a bipartisan one.

Then in 2007-2008, still under Bush, with the economy on the brink of collapse in the worst disaster since the Great Depression, it was Democrats who bailed out the administration, throwing their support behind the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act offered by the GOP administration.

Then, when Obama succeeded Bush in 2009 with the country still wobbly from the economic catastrophe, he received no help from the Republicans, led by McConnell.

So, yeah, Mitch is right when he says bipartisanship is dead. He ought to know. He killed it. And the country is worse off for it.

It’s downright un-American.

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