During a televised debate Monday night, Amy McGrath, who is running against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a US Senate seat from Kentucky, noted again and again that a pandemic has plunged the country into an unrelenting crisis and McConnell’s Republican-controlled Senate is refusing to do anything to alleviate the pain.
In response, McConnell laughed like Star Wars’ Emperor Palpatine. And laughed. And laughed.
And he blamed Nancy Pelosi that more than 220,000 Americans are dead. At least 26 million people are unemployed and collecting benefits, and many more than that are unemployed, underemployed, or in danger of losing their jobs. More than 600,000 women left the workforce in September alone (compared with 78,000 men), according to government data.
All while the Republican controlled Senate, where McConnell is the majority leader, can get it together to hold lightning-speed confirmation hearings aimed at thrusting Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court before the November 3 election, they have shown no such ability to advance a new relief package for those hundreds of millions of Americans struggling — many with jobs and lives in ruins — as a deadly disease continues its rampage through their communities.
A relief bill is sitting on Mitch “I know how to make deals” McConnell’s desk, and he’s dismissed it.
There’s really no excuse for McConnell’s chuckling at a debate over the question of Covid relief. There’s nothing funny about the utter, unconscionable failures over which this Senate Majority Leader has presided.
There’s nothing funny about more Americans dying from Covid-19, than World War I, Vietnam, the Korean War, and the Iraq war combined. Or that while the US contributes just 4% percent of the world’s population, it makes up 20% of the world’s Covid deaths.
But the point is not only that McConnell found something to laugh about in Covid deaths, although it was striking that chortling was the response he reached for. His laughter-as-answer to McGrath came off as something else, and a reaction that will be familiar to many women: Condescension and dismissiveness.
McConnell couldn’t even pretend to care. The effect was one of arrogance not to mention stunningly cold and even sexist.
The defense McConnell offered for his do-nothing party is that the other side won’t negotiate, even though House Democrats did indeed pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill early this month, which McConnell has rejected. And McConnell can manage to rally his troops to, as McGrath put it, “ram through a Supreme Court nominee right now, instead of negotiating, which is what he should have been doing all summer long to make that happen.”
Now the real question remains, will voters think this is a laughing matter?
“I am the senate.”