While the Biden administration faces escalating calls for impeachment, either of the homeland security secretary, the attorney general, or even the president himself as evidence mounts over myriad scandals, Republicans’ top Senate lawmaker is distracted.
Instead of directing his ire at President Joe Biden for his influence-peddling schemes with corrupt overseas actors, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell piled onto the media onslaught against a freshman representative from Wisconsin who cussed out some teenagers at the Capitol. GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden stirred up controversy last week when he went on a tirade against some interns with the Senate page program who were lying in the Capitol rotunda, which the congressman says he considered disrespectful.
“Wake the fuck up you little sh-ts. … What the f-ck are you all doing? Get the f-ck out of here,” Van Orden said, telling the group they were “defiling the space,” according to one page’s recollection of the incident. The Wisconsin lawmaker was defiant, explaining on a local radio show, “The people who have brought this up are not serious people.”
Nor are the Republicans who have remained silent on the administration’s series of scandals but have been quick to get behind the Democrats’ latest outrage circus.
The Van Orden outburst drew swift condemnation from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “I was shocked when I heard about it, and I am further shocked at his refusal to apologize to these young people,” Schumer said.
McConnell didn’t hesitate to make the outrage bipartisan. According to Politico, McConnell was clear to “associate myself with the remarks of the majority leader.”
“Everybody on this side of the aisle feels exactly the same way,” McConnell added.
If only Republicans had a leader in the upper chamber who dared stand up for Republicans. The problem is not that Van Orden’s eruption at a couple of teenagers is excusable. The problem is McConnell’s regular participation in Democrats’ smear campaigns against other Republicans while the GOP Senate leader remains silent on the administration’s corruption scandals. Last week, McConnell declined to comment at all on House Republicans’ impeachment push.
It’s far from the first time the Republican Senate leader has peddled the Democrats’ latest political narratives. In March, McConnell condemned Fox News for the network airing the Jan. 6 tapes presented by Tucker Carlson. The tapes undermined the Democrats’ narratives of a “deadly insurrection,” the basis for their snap impeachment of outgoing President Donald Trump.
“With regard to the presentation on Fox News last night, I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol Police about what happened on Jan. 6,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill following Carlson’s first installment of the J6 tapes. Hours earlier, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger had sent a memo to his department that called Carlson’s coverage “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions.”
The comments led even Elon Musk to begin to question whether McConnell was actually a Republican. “I keep forgetting which party he belongs to,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
After the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago, McConnell didn’t condemn the weaponization of federal law enforcement. Instead, the Republican Senate leader endorsed more funding for the federal bureau. This followed the octogenarian lawmaker sabotaging Republicans’ midterm efforts to reclaim the Senate. McConnell was more interested in maintaining an establishment minority he could control than in achieving a GOP majority that aligned more with Trump’s vision for the party.
Republicans have a right to expect far better from their No. 1 leader in the Senate. Considering McConnell’s recent health problems, new leadership could come sooner rather than later. His successor would be wise to adopt a new approach that puts voters first.