On Tuesday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, to urge Congress to amend the filibuster and pass voting rights protections. There was one part of the speech which caught the ears and ire of some of his Congressional contemporaries:
“At consequential moments in history, they present a choice,” said Biden in his speech. “Do you want to be the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”
Those comparisons ruffled the feathers of his apparent friendship bracelet co-holder Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to say a few things according to CNN:
“How profoundly — profoundly — unpresidential,” the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “I’ve known, liked and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at the podium yesterday.”
Somewhere along the way, President Biden realized if some form of the two voting rights bills collecting dust in the Senate doesn’t pass, he can say bye to his slim majority. And then he’ll have to work with McConnell–the man who is a pillar of bipartisanship (sarcasm intended.)
It’s a common tactic: any time Democrats get some fire under them to make a change, Sen. McConnell and others like him wag their fingers and say, “this behavior is unbecoming of Congress!”
Sen. Mitch McConnell seems to have forgotten the standard that he set himself. Right after denying former President Barack Obama a chance to appoint now Attorney General Merrick Garland a chance at a vacant Supreme Court slot, he invoked the “nuclear” option to confirm Neil Gorsuch to that same seat when Donald Trump became president. Keep in mind; Democrats are only looking at a carveout to pass voting rights legislation–the filibuster itself wouldn’t go away.
This is the same man who could not wait to lead the charge of filling a Supreme Court seat after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. The only reason that Sen. McConnell claims that he didn’t recognize President Biden at that podium is that (maybe) President Biden woke up and saw the farce bipartisanship has become.
Finishing his “outrage,” Sen. McConnell attempted to try and gain some moral high ground:
“You could not invent a better advertisement for the legislative filibuster than what we’ve just seen, a President abandoning rational persuasion for pure, pure, demagoguery,” McConnell said. “A president shouting that 52 senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the framers built the Senate to check his power.”
The real story here is that Democrats have to find every loophole possible because Republicans are so opposed to people having voting rights protections. Sen. McConnell does these “warning” speeches all the time– but these comparisons sting because they are true. Friends aren’t supposed to sugarcoat things. They are the first line of defense to let you know when you are genuinely tripping. So, if Sen. McConnell does consider President Biden, a friend–maybe he should listen.
For once, it feels good to see Democrats realize Republican legislature go by the “rules for thee, and not for me” principle. This “respect” has been gone for a long time. I only hope that Democrats don’t give in to this empty call for civility because if Republicans gain control, we know they certainly won’t.