Journalist lays out a long list of reasons not to trust anything Mitch McConnell has to say
Mitch McConnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2014. (

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Republicans regain control of the U.S. Senate and the White House, he would be open to supporting a nationwide abortion ban; the Kentucky Republican, however, is promising, “I will never support smashing the legislative filibuster on this issue or any other.” But Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank, in his May 10 column, lays out a long list of reasons why McConnell would likely go back on his word and “smash” the filibuster in order to get a federal abortion ban passed in the U.S. Senate.

Milbank cleverly uses humor and biting sarcasm to get his point across. When he writes that he “believed McConnell” in the past, he goes on to cite examples of McConnell going back on his word. This is one Milbank column that should not be taken literally, and the reader needs to read between the lines to realize just how untrustworthy Milbank considers McConnell to be.

“I’ve always believed Mitch McConnell,” Milbank sarcastically declares. “I believed the Kentucky Republican when he said, in 2016, that an election-year Supreme Court vacancy ‘should not be filled until we have a new president’ — before he filled a Supreme Court vacancy eight days before the 2020 presidential election.”

After the death of far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated centrist Democrat Merrick Garland — now U.S. attorney general in the Biden Administration — for the High Court. But McConnell, who was Senate majority leader at the time, wouldn’t even consider Obama’s nominee, arguing that it was unfair for Obama to nominate someone during a presidential election year.

McConnell, in 2016, said he was invoking the “McConnell rule.” But the “McConnell rule” was nowhere to be found in 2020, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and McConnell rammed then-President Donald Trump’s far-right nominee, now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett, through the Senate and got her confirmed.

McConnell showed that he is totally untrustworthy, which is exactly the point of Milbank’s May 10 column.

“I believed him when he excoriated Democrats, in 2013, for ‘breaking the rules’ and using the ‘nuclear option’ to eliminate the filibuster for lower-court nominees — before he broke the rules and used the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017,” Milbank sarcastically writes. “I believed him when he said President Donald Trump was ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the January 6 Capitol insurrection — before voting to acquit Trump and declaring he would support him if he’s the Republican nominee in 2024.”

McConnell goes on to give some more reasons why he doesn’t trust McConnell.

“I believed McConnell when he was an outspoken champion of corporate free speech — before he scolded corporations for their ‘quite stupid’ protest of Georgia’s voter-suppression law,” Milbank says. “I believed McConnell’s years of statements in support of disclosing the identities of political contributors — before he used a filibuster in 2010 to block legislation requiring such disclosure…. I believed McConnell in 2009, when he threw his backing behind a proposal for a bipartisan debt commission to get federal spending under control, calling it ‘our best hope’ and urging the Obama Administration to get on board — before using a filibuster to block the proposal after the Obama Administration supported it.”

McConnell was first elected to the U.S. Senate via Kentucky in 1984, the year in which President Ronald Reagan was reelected by a landslide. Along the way, he has become increasingly partisan and increasingly ruthless.

“I believed McConnell when he said, in 2019, that background checks would be front and center in Senate talks on gun legislation; when he said, in 2016, that he would put renewable energy tax credits in an aviation bill; when he reached an agreement with his Democratic counterpart on nominees to the Federal Communications Commission; and when he repeatedly vowed to open up the Senate amendment process,” Milbank writes. “None of these things came to pass, either. But believe me: I still believe Mitch McConnell.”