The Democrats are the minority party in Congress and they don’t hold the presidency. They can’t, on their own, pass legislation. What they can do is make noise. And while I’m not a highly compensated political consultant who gets paid to come up with great slogans like “Pokémon Go to the Polls,” I do think that there might be some political and substantive benefit to making noise about how Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did a solid for what we now officially know to have been an effort carried out by specific Russian operatives to destroy American power and credibility by screwing with the 2016 election. (It was a successful effort!)
Here, if you’ve forgotten, is how a June 2017 Washington Post story describes McConnell having reacted when the Obama administration asked him in September 2016 to participate in a bipartisan announcement about what intelligence agencies already knew to be a Russian-directed propaganda and hacking attack:
“The Dems were, ‘Hey, we have to tell the public,’ ” recalled one participant. But Republicans resisted, arguing that to warn the public that the election was under attack would further Russia’s aim of sapping confidence in the system.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claim.
An earlier Post piece reported, in fact, that McConnell “made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.” In other words, McConnell not only refused to condemn a foreign spy operation, he threatened to retaliate against his country’s efforts to defend itself. (McConnell has argued that a letter he later co-signed with other congressional leaders constituted an appropriate reaction to Russian meddling, but the letter in question literally did not use the word “Russia.”)
Barack Obama deserves blame for deciding not to go forward with an aggressive response to Russia on his own—and honestly, for believing there was any chance in the first place that McConnell would have any interest in undermining foreign support for the Republican presidential candidate. But Mitch McConnell also deserves a lot of blame for being a craven hack who didn’t defend his country when he had the chance. One might even argue that what he did was unpatriotic, and that it should disqualify him from continuing to serve as one of the government’s most powerful figures.
But it’s doubtful that you’ll hear anything like that from the current, perpetually cautious class of Democratic leaders, who are at the moment paralyzed by the discovery that Donald Trump isn’t participating honestly in bipartisan negotiations regarding DACA. The more things change …