If you’re salty about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and how he’s conducting the impeachment trial in the upper chamber, one of the least productive ways to take it out on him is to give him nicknames that are actually pretty awesome.
I can understand: The name “Mitch” kind of lends itself to monikers that sound like they’re sick burns when they come out of your mouth. We were reminded of that again during the impeachment proceedings, when #MidnightMitch began to trend.
“Midnight Mitch” was a name coined even before the first day of the impeachment trial proper began this week.
The idea was that McConnell and other Republicans were going to pass the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s trial in the middle of the night to avoid judgment by the American people.
This is an interesting take inasmuch as the only people who seem to be concerned about process are political junkies, the kind of people who would have been outraged no matter what the GOP did.
If America was really paying attention to how the impeachment trial was playing out in terms of rules, they would have been livid at the made-for-TV streamlined vulgarization of process that was the House impeachment inquiry spearheaded by Messrs. Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff.
The Senate GOP seems to be taking this every bit as seriously as the House Democrats did, and good for them.
In short, I gather “Midnight Mitch” cared not whether the rules were passed at noon or midnight.
The name was coined by Carl Bernstein — the more hysterical, desiccated half of the duo that broke open the Watergate investigation for The Washington Post nigh on a half-century ago.
Bernstein espies a new Watergate virtually every time a Republican is in the White House, which means he’s enjoying a bit of a renaissance at the moment.
He was on CNN with Anderson Cooper on Monday to talk about the proposed trial guidelines:
“We’re looking at ‘Midnight Mitch’ and the so-called world’s greatest deliberative body, really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see. That’s what this is about.”
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) January 21, 2020
“Now we’re looking at ‘Midnight Mitch’ and the so-called world’s greatest deliberative body really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see,” Bernstein said.
“That’s what this is about. It’s about preventing information from becoming known and seen by the American public.”
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The name seems to have trended, in part due to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to gunk up the gears of the proceedings until the wee hours of the morning with motion after motion which had zero percent chance of succeeding.
Naturally, blame fell upon McConnell for this:
#MidnightMitch has already admitted he’s working hand-in-hand with Trump on the #impeachment trial & violating his oath to be impartial—but his proposed rules for the trial (holding the trial at 1am??) are yet more evidence that he’s helping the White House perpetrate a cover-up. https://t.co/L2TzAeUuuB
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 21, 2020
If #MidnightMitch & Trump think that all of us are going to be asleep during the trial, they have another thought coming because I and others will stay up all night long to hear the democratic team lay out the charges against this criminal enterprise in the White House!
— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) January 21, 2020
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 21, 2020
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 21, 2020
No wonder #MidnightMitch banned cameras inside the room. I’d bet the American people would love to see all the Republicans dozing right now.
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 22, 2020
Amy Siskind really likes that hashtag.
As it turns out, so do some conservatives. Take The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti:
“Midnight Mitch” is a badass name https://t.co/icZLyyByyM
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) January 21, 2020
This is indeed true. If someone wants to call me “Midnight C. Douglas,” I’m down.
It’s also not the first time that an unassailably cool nickname has been bequeathed upon the Senate majority leader.
Easily the coolest has been “Cocaine Mitch,” which actually came from a nominal Republican. Don Blankenship is a curious specimen of wannabe politician, a former coal executive and convicted white-collar criminal who called himself “Trumpier than Trump” and ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for West Virginia Senate in 2018.
His sole qualification was his ability to say funny/stupid stuff, which didn’t endear him to Republicans — least of all the president, who called on primary voters to reject Blankenship lest the GOP punt away a chance to take out Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in a state Trump won by 42 points in 2016. (The eventual nominee lost, alas, albeit not with the kind of sure dumpster-fire gusto that Blankenship would have.)
On the way to blowing a bunch of his money in a quixotic effort, however, Blankenship coined one of the coolest nicknames ever for McConnell: “Cocaine Mitch.”
Mind you, the coal executive wasn’t running against McConnell.
I’m not entirely sure he knew this, but I guess we’ll never know.
The point was that he saw the Senate majority leader as some kind of existential threat to the GOP for being too moderate, or something — with an emphasis on the “or something.”
So he decided to fall into the coolness trap again by giving McConnell the “Cocaine Mitch” moniker, because apparently, 90 pounds of cocaine were allegedly once found on a container vessel owned McConnell’s father-in-law’s shipping company, although neither the company nor his father-in-law were implicated. Good work.
McConnell was so deeply wounded by Blankenship’s allegation that his campaign responded thusly:
A year ago, a legend was born. Own your piece of history. #CocaineMitch
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) May 8, 2019
The back of the shirt reads “Cartel Member.”
Then there’s “Moscow Mitch.”
The details of this one are a bit more ugly.
The Washington Post reported this nickname came from Democrats “after he blocked efforts to pass election security bills” in 2019.
To use The Post’s own scale, this should probably get either two or three Pinocchios.
What McConnell refused to allow was a vote on a Democratic bill that passed the House which would federalize a certain amount of electoral control, including the use of paper ballots.
The House refused to ban so-called “ballot harvesting,” where designated volunteers or other individuals collect absentee ballots.
This is arguably the greatest current threat to voting security there is, but Democrats also benefited from it immensely during the 2018 election, particularly in California, so ballot harvesting stays.
For blocking the “Safe Act,” Joe Scarborough decided that McConnell was in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and coined the nickname “Moscow Mitch“:
This was perhaps the only nickname McConnell did not embrace, and for obvious reasons: “Over the last several days, I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of boldfaced lies,” McConnell said.
“I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I’ve singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years: Vladimir Putin.”
It’s pretty low, although it’s telling (and still a little bit awesome) that the Democrats loathe McConnell to the extent that they’re willing to trot out the bow-legged ol’ Russian stooge stand-bye.
And then there’s the nickname McConnell has embraced for himself — the “Grim Reaper,” considering the Senate is where bad Democratic legislation goes to die.
“Think of me as the Grim Reaper,” McConnell said back in April. “None of that stuff is going to pass.”
Most of these are nicknames all of us would kind of like.
Only one of them has been suggested by McConnell for himself — and even then, it’s caught on.
The point is that when it comes to Mitch McConnell, be careful what you call him. Your so-called sick burn could end up on the front of an epic campaign T-shirt.
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