Witt: McConnell masters the art of duplicity

Published 8:05 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

By Chuck Witt

Kentucky Sen. McConnell must be one of the most duplicitous members of Congress. One would have to search thoroughly to find evidence of another senator with as much hubris and lack of integrity.

Since November’s election when Republicans took control of the White House and retained control of both the Senate and House, our good senator has been making the tour of all the talk shows touting how now is the time for everyone to come together and get something done for the American people.

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This position is somewhat strange in light of the fact he was the prime instigator behind eight years of unparalleled opposition to anything that President Obama tried to do. Recall his comment that his prime goal was to see that Obama did not get a second term as president.

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office and names his cabinet picks, who must be vetted by Congress, McConnell is finding opportunity to speak out of both sides of his mouth once again.

Nominees to cabinet posts must commit to a lengthy process of submitting information to the Office of Government Ethics, which must then prepare information to be sent to the committees who are to examine the nominees.

Apparently that process is going slowly and some committee members, who are being pressured to proceed with the vetting process, are questioning the need for such haste.

In 2009, McConnell said cabinet nominees shouldn’t get hearings unless “the OGE letter is complete and submitted to the committee in time for review…” McConnell even sent a letter to then-Democratic leader Reid demanding complete ethics reviews before hearings.

Of course, this opinion only apparently applied to nominees of President Obama since the senator is now saying “we need to sort of grow up here”, suggesting that Democrats are harping too much on procedural requirements before conducting hearings on Trump’s choices without complete reviews.

In 2007, McConnell objected to any moves to pass Obamacare with a simple 51-vote majority, relying on the strange senate rule requiring a super-majority of 60 votes. In 2010, he avowed that a 60-vote majority was necessary on “controversial matters.” Now he is espousing the 51-vote maneuver to enact tax reform. Is tax reform not a “controversial matter?”

Recently, our senior senator said, “I think that’s something (blocking Trump’s Supreme Court nominee) the American people simply will not tolerate…” How quickly he must have forgotten that he was primarily responsible for refusing to conduct hearings on Judge Merrick Garland — Obama’s choice to fill the Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia — for 11 months. The senator had to scour the annals of history for more than 100 years to find an instance in which Congress acted so heinously in refusing a hearing for a presidential appointment, and then cited it as a precedent for what he was doing. It’s sad to think so little integrity has permeated the senate in that period of time.

All this duplicity comes atop the senator’s fabricated War on Coal, a conflict which never existed except in his own snarled mind, and those who returned him to Washington can now watch supinely as nothing changes for those affected by the demise of this natural resource.

Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham — father of Walter, Peanut and Jose Jalapeno-on-a-stick — is probably the only person in the whole world more adept at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. At least Dunham is entertaining.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester.  He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.