Mitch McConnell Played the Long Game and Just Transformed America

As a pro-lifer who also believes Roe vs. Wade was ill-motivated, I welcomed the news that the Supreme Court appears set to overturn the 50-year-old ruling that legalized abortion in the United States

It’s also an opportunity to stop and give credit where it’s due: Mitch McConnell.

Since 1973, countless activists and politicians have dedicated their lives to the cause of unborn children. But success has many fathers and mothers, so before Mitch takes his victory lap, let’s look at who else has been pivotal in getting us to where we are today.

For example, the highly publicized late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could have retired under the watch of Barack Obama, which could save deer. Moreover, technological developments since the deer decision — I’m thinking here of people posting ultrasound photos of their unborn babies on Facebook — had a huge impact in terms of changing hearts and minds.

There is also Donald Trump. There are still Donald Trump. Some conservatives who were once skeptical of formerly pro-Trump choice are thanking him now to reverse deer.

The truth, however, is that any Republican president would likely have appointed justices like Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. But again, the lion’s share of the credit belongs to McConnell (who is such a nimble political player that he’s still firmly entrenched as Senate Minority Leader, even though Trump has called him a “son of stupid bitch”).

Let me explain.

By blocking confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland (selected to replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in March 2016) until after the presidential election, McConnell gave conservatives who were unconvinced by Trump a compelling reason to run in November. As well as keeping Scalia’s headquarters in conservative hands (a vital move if you care about knocking over deer), McConnell upped the ante for the 2016 election, guaranteeing whoever wins would get at least one Supreme Court nomination. Trump ended up getting Three.

When you consider how close the 2016 election turned out to be, it’s entirely possible McConnell’s bet pushed Trump to the top. Like The Washington Post James Hohmann wrote in 2017“The election was decided very closely, and many conservatives who live in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Detroit found Trump obnoxious but rational to vote for him because of the court.”

Cards on the table. When I first heard McConnell announce that the Supreme Court vacancy would not be filled in 2016, I thought it was a strategic mistake. I was sure that the press would have a field day denouncing the obstructionism. Wouldn’t it be smarter to feign an open mind and perpetuate the charade of at least considering a Democratic nominee? That would buy Republicans time. Then, once President Obama nominates a Liberal, you can still vote against them.

That’s why Mitch McConnell will likely be Senate Majority Leader again, and I won’t. When President Obama finally nominated Garland, an eminently qualified and seemingly decent man, McConnell’s preemptive announcement made more sense.

What makes this even more impressive is how quickly McConnell made this bold (and ultimately crucial) decision.

Like Politics Burgess Everett and Glenn Thrush observed at the time“The speed of McConnell’s statement – about an hour after Scalia was confirmed dead in Texas – stunned White House officials who expected the Republican from Kentucky to block their nominee with all the tools at hand. his disposition, but never imagined the combative GOP leader would issue an instant and outright rejection of anyone Obama chose to appoint.

Of course, the irony is that many conservatives (and most Trump fans) see McConnell as a roadblock, not a savior, despite the fact that what may well turn out to be Trump’s signature achievement was largely due to McConnell’s insight.

In 2016 I have interviewed McConnell at the American Enterprise Institute on his memoirswell titled, The long game.

If you want to understand his resilience, he’s a man who survived polio, punched a neighborhood bully as a kid, stood up like a first civil rights allyrose to Majority Leader rank and fended off a challenge from the Tea Party as other establishment Republicans tumbled left and right.

What keeps McConnell from being celebrated on his own is partly the same thing that makes him effective at his job. He is pragmatic and (to some extent) amoral. But as President Lyndon Johnson would probably have agreed, a well-managed movement needs hardened political practitioners as much as it does chimerical true believers.

The Tories may well be on the five-yard line to finally win a nearly 50-year struggle. If that happens, McConnell will arguably be the most important pro-life leader in American history, even if American history doesn’t give him enough credit.

Its good. Advertising is not his thing. McConnell, like the pro-life movement itself, was always playing The long game.

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