McConnell’s imaginary high crimes

Updated
 
McConnell's imaginary high crimes
McConnell's imaginary high crimes

Late last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke at a conservative think tank to make a spirited case against public disclosure in the campaign-finance system. As far as the Republican Leader is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with wealthy interests buying American elections – the real scandal is a proposal to let American voters know who’s doing the buying.

But that’s not the only scandal. Kevin Drum noted what McConnell went on to say later in the day during a Fox News interview.

[T]he Senate’s top Republican also accused the [Obama] administration of improperly using government agencies to exert political pressure.

“What they’re trying to do is intimidate donors to outside groups that are critical of the administration, McConnell said. “The campaign has rifled through donors’ divorce records. They’ve got the IRS, the SEC and other agencies going after contributors trying to frighten people and intimidate them out of exercising their rights to participate in the American political discourse.”

Look, I realize that Republican members of Congress, just as habitual reflex, target President Obama with all kinds of over-the-top accusations. Those of us who remember the Clinton/Gore years know this isn’t at all new. Ideally, folks like McConnell – a man who’s served in the Senate for more than a quarter of a century – would leave garbage attacks to House backbenchers, but that would presuppose a level of decency and decorum that doesn’t exist.

But McConnell’s comments aren’t just casual nonsense – the Senate Minority Leader appeared on national television and accused the sitting president of impeachable offenses. If the Obama administration actually “rifled through” donors’ private records and directed federal agencies to “go after” and “intimidate” political contributors, the scandal would rock the federal government, indictments would be issued, and the president would almost certainly be driven from office.

Indeed, the very crimes McConnell alleged actually occurred roughly four decades ago, and the result was one of the most monumental political scandals in American history.

And therein lies the point: Obama hasn’t done any of this – McConnell just made it up. For the leading Republican member of the Senate, casually accusing a sitting president of high crimes is just a way to kill a Friday afternoon in June.

Mitch McConnell

McConnell's imaginary high crimes

Updated