by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Every hostile nickname that Mitch McConnell gets is further confirmation of his effectiveness.
The latest is “Midnight Mitch,” a reaction to his resolution setting out the road map for the Senate impeachment trial. The measure stipulated that House impeachment managers could make their case over two days of 12-hour sessions, possibly pushing the presentations into the wee hours. Hence, the latest alliterative moniker for McConnell, also known to his enemies as “Moscow Mitch.”
McConnell relented slightly on the resolution, giving the managers — and the president’s team — three days, instead of two, for opening arguments. But he still got his way on the broader question of how to run the trial — unsurprisingly, because McConnell is a master at what he does.
When all is said and done, he’ll be remembered as one of the most effective Senate majority leaders in the modern era. A portion of an early Democratic presidential debate was devoted to asking candidates how they’d get around McConnell as president — and none of them had a good answer. He now looms as a hate figure for the Left at the same time he’s won the grudging admiration of conservatives who once scorned him as too establishmentarian.
Nancy Pelosi has gotten more than her share of good press as a powerful and shrewd speaker of the House. Yet her one false move in the impeachment saga was to believe, on the basis of sheer wishfulness, that she could somehow force McConnell into shaping the Senate trial to her liking by withholding the articles of impeachment. Since McConnell never panics, knows his caucus better than anyone, and understands who has leverage in any negotiation, the contest with Pelosi was a mismatch from the start.