Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is offended. No, it’s not because of his constant goalpost moving when it comes to the filibuster or opposition to letting voting rights legislation pass–it’s because people are mad at him about his comments about Black voters. Well, the Senate minority leader couldn’t bear the thought that anybody could think that he could initially separate African-American voters into a different category.
According to the Associated Press, McConnell claims that his comments were mischaracterized:
“This outrageous mischaracterization of my record as a result of leaving one word out inadvertently the other day ... is deeply offensive,” he said during a press conference in Louisville Friday.
“I’ve never been accused of this sort of thing before. It’s hurtful and offensive, and I think some of the critics know it’s totally nonsense,” McConnell said Friday.
McConnell tried to massage his statement for the first time on Friday, claiming he had left words out initially.
McConnell, on Friday, initially said that the word he left out of his earlier comments was “almost” Americans. Shortly after the press conference in Kentucky ended, McConnell, after consulting with an aide, walked back to the microphone and corrected his clarification, saying that the word he had accidentally left out while speaking to reporters in D.C. earlier this week was “all”.
McConnell also noted that he was some civil rights champion, saying “he attended the Rev. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963. He also said he helped organize a civil rights march at Kentucky’s state Capitol and was present when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.” It’s ironic, given that he is not doing anything like that now.
McConnell also went on to say he supported Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to be the first Black person in that position–that he has “had African American speechwriters, schedulers, office managers over the years.”
Let’s say McConnell’s comments were a slip of the tongue–his recent records prove otherwise. In speaking about his opposition to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act last year, Sen. McConnell said the following via MSNBC News:
“Clearly, [Democrats] want to change the subject ... to a non-existent problem with this marching out of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Again, I repeat, the Supreme Court did not strike down the Voting Rights Act. It’s still on the books. There’s no evidence right now anywhere in the country that states are engaged in suppressing the vote based upon race.”
It’s hypocritical and almost intentional to cite your civil rights record and claim that states aren’t engaged in voter suppression. Nineteen states have passed them so far, with more on the way. McConnell is aware of this–just like McConnell remembers the one Black politician in his state that he pushed to elect and the one MLK speech he can cite.
In 1964, McConnell’s mentor, then Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, joined a filibuster that almost killed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now, McConnell is doing the same with voting rights and every other thing he can block. Most African-Americans don’t feel like a part of America, and McConnell proudly stands in the way of one of the tools where that can be changed.