A Conversation With Howard Fineman


I welcome to the Al Franken podcast. We've got a really good for a change inch <hes>. It's Howard Fineman who younger folks listening may know only from M._S._N._B._C.. He's the guy who looks like an older grayer. Your Max Weinberg Bruce Springsteen's drummer <hes> Howard has had a forty five year career thus far as a journalist for years he wrote the clinical cover stories for Newsweek and Howard was one of those guys like David Broder who would travel all over the country greeny ride the bus <hes> with the other reporters and he talked with locals as part of his story so Howard knows this country very well but a part of the country he knows probably better than any other beltway. Journalist is Kentucky because Howard's first job as reporter. I was for the Louisville Courier Journal so Howard knows Kentucky and he is covered Mitch McConnell for decades and I I thought it was time for a podcast to help my listeners understand how cynical and power hungry and just awful the <hes> current majority leader is so Howard and I sat down this past Thursday and recorded our conversation but Mitch is so awful awful that while we were discussing how he is destroying our institutions and our our democracy he did another wretched the thing what McConnell did was put a hold on the securing American Federal Elections Act Now. This is a bill all that have been passed by the House that would direct six hundred million dollars in election assistance to the states and require backup paper ballots so the results can't be hacked and you can do a recount that you can rely on. I'm I'm going to quote from the Washington Post. Dana millbank quote McConnell himself responded this time reading from a statement his chin melting into his chest his trademark thin smile on his lips. It's just a highly partisan bill from same folks who spent spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about president trump and Russia. He said therefore object now. I thought the thing about the the chin melting into the chest was entirely unnecessary. Frankly except that we here at the Al Franken podcast have learned that during the August recess McConnell is finally getting some work done and when he comes back that whole turtle thing will be history and he will have the tight <hes> jaw line and neck of a college college freshmen. It's GonNa it's GonNa take some time getting used to frankly look a lot of people have been saying the Russians are going to be back. Believe me they've never left. McConnell put a hold on this election. Security Bill will the day after Muller told the American people that the Russians are going to do everything they can to hack us and interfere with the two thousand twenty election and also. Let's remember that the president said just recently that if a foreign power offers him help in the next election election that he'll accept it. Republicans don't want fair elections. We all know that they try to make it as hard as possible for certain people to vote when they gerrymander they stuff as many Democrats as they can into congressional districts ninety percent Democratic so republicans can have all these safe sixty forty districts around the state from election to election. They changed the location of the polling places in certain neighborhoods. They reduced number of polling places places that makes for longer lines. They WanNa make much harder for certain people devote so securing our elections. NHS is now a partisan issue and Mitch McConnell stopped a bill that would prevent foreign countries from hacking our elections a bill that would require paper balance so that will have a physical record of every vote so Mitch got the nickname Moscow Mitch right after Howard and I finished our conversation so in the next fifty minutes so you're going to learn some some fun stuff about Mitch McConnell from Howard Fineman who began his Distinguished Career in Louisville Kentucky Conduct Hi this is Harold Veneman of the Courier Journal and Louisville <hes> here broadcasting from sixth and Broadway in downtown Louisville across the State of Kentucky from Pike Ville to Paducah now Howard you'd explain yourself so al when I <hes> I went down to Kentucky. I began to realize that <hes> Howard is not a very common woman named there but Harold is an incredibly common name so when I would call up public officials to interview them they would inevitably call me herald and there was one guy in particular over in the Department of Energy and Kentucky call them up and say hey Mr Stapleton it's Howard Feinman from the courier journal and he'd say hey harold how you doing and and I would say I'm fine Sir but it's Howard in he'd say right Herald you calling about <hes> and also my byline in the in the paper read Howard Feinman and just as they're not many Howard's there weren't many fine men's or really there weren't many and most people read that as Finn Amon so basically I went through my nearly five years in Kentucky as Herald Cinnamon Fineman and as a matter of fact that's how I'd like to be known on this episode of the Al Franken podcast and say in case. I say something that I needed deny. I everybody you are in for a treat today. Howard fineman is my guess and here's a treat. Were not going to be talking about Howard fineman. We're going to spend the next well. That's it for me album. Sorry I'm Outta here. We're going to spend the next minutes talking about Mitch McConnell all right right Mitch McConnell. Let's get this out of the way we're friends yes. Yes I think I have to disclose that and we met in <hes>. I think it was December or late. November nineteen eighty seven late nineteen eighty seven on the way to Iowa we are finding to moines because of there was a debate democratic primary debate in Iowa and this was my first one man uplink unit the thing where or the satellite dish right on my head which is an idea that I claim claim my head I but I didn't have a T._v.. Show to put it on so there you go yeah. Fuck you spence. It's with that so anyway and and I knew that there'd be all there's this place in the parking lot. Where have all the trucks yes and so. I knew there'd be a lot of satellite dishes. They're yeah that'd be yes on backdrop that what I liked was <hes> that you <hes> had a real desire in in <hes> intuitive sense of <hes> how evaluate what what was going on in politics. I feel that I was there at present at the creation of what turned out out to be a great political career so I'll fax. You're welcome and you have a decent sense of humor well one of one of the problems of our relationship chip. I'm always trying to be funny in front of you. which is difficult in a big mistake? Legal says it's an amateur playing in a professional league. I mean you discover that. I had a fairly deep understanding of politics and I discovered that you had a deep understanding politics well but that didn't surprise is Mi <hes>. Also I discovered that <hes> power has a fabulous sense of humor you or selling yourself short and by that I mean you you laffy swing. That's my number. One rule is to laugh at whatever else says yes. That's the only thing comedian scare so Mitch Mitch McConnell <hes> your first beet yellows level right and is Louisville. Yes it is it is Louisville and <hes> the way you you say it if you're from Louisville is to collapse it all into one melted syllable. Lull so of all and <hes> so you go along you. Go back to what year with with well I covering Mitch Mc. Really <hes> I it's possible that I met met Mitch McConnell when I first started out in Louisville in the fall of seventy three and <hes> Mitch who was then in <hes> the lawyer in private practice was in Louisville was in the process of taking over the rather defunct Republican Party of Jefferson County which Louisville was in if I didn't meet him right away I pretty soon after that began to know who he was because he got involved in local politics and I covered a little bit of the local politics from the beginning not much that was a prestige beat that I didn't have the seniority or the knowledge to be on exactly and when did you guys like they win and was he aware of <hes> well we we we got. We really didn't get to know each other until <hes> I was already at Newsweek magazine number of years later and he had been elected elected to the Senate and <hes> naturally enough. I wanted to keep in close touch with members of the Senate from Kentucky and House House members from Kentucky so you have a long standing journalist politician relationships and you can't help but love the guy right well. It's an I have an interesting attitude towards Mitch which I still haven't entirely and every molecule my body given up which which is that he started out as a moderate and even liberal Republican who is pro civil rights and and pro abortion. Can I kinda think I know where it's going and I would give up that molecule well and also <hes> he'd had polio as a child and <hes> is is something of a loner and I- persistent thinking than you'd think that we give you a lot of you know feeling sympathy and when you hear about that he's done is he's done everything he can in his public role as a politician mission to drive away anybody's desire to view him sympathetically is a person he actually makes it very difficult for anybody to like him personally even people who deal with him all the time and who were on the same page politically with him now whatever page he happens to be on at this point on your same people in the Caucasus even people in the caucus. I mean they. They respect him. They fear him they. I understand his <hes> keen strategic sense and his his big brain for the mechanics politics but what they all like to spend a lot a time with him personally or anytime with him personally. I don't really think so and so as a reporter I try to see the humanity and everybody buddy. I cover <hes> <hes> because I think that's the way you view your fellow man in the way best way to cover politics but Mitch makes it awfully hard. He makes it off off. He'd be an example. What makes it hard this week. These coal miners with black lung which kills you you die which is from breathing coal dust in the minds wants right <hes> came to capitol. Hill and Kentucky of course is a big coal state. Lee came into the room where they were and spent a look. It sounds like less than a minute well. That's a good example of his public willingness to play the the utterly unsympathetic defender of corporate interests. He's proud of that. I would say that Mitch McConnell is undoubtedly proud of the fact act that he did what he did yesterday. He's telling himself. These people are never going to support me. They're trying to show me up up by doing this caravan trip to Washington. They're lucky to be getting anything by way of federal tax to replenish the bladder there take a fee that the coal companies pay for whatever on per ton and they've had it. It's been half as it was a dollar ten cents at <music> A ton. Now it's down to fifty five cents. They literally chopped in half and and I'm sure McConnell is utterly unapologetic about that and what's interesting they wanted just to be. Yeah I wanted to be restored back to where it was and the by the way <hes> under great pressure from <hes> your body and mind Jon Stewart the Senate voted and McConnell supported replenishing that fund the nine eleven either nine eleven fund for seventy years making it whole for seventy years under the actuarial all expectations and he won't do the same thing anything like something akin to that in his own state where he's always arguing when he runs for reelection that isn't it great to Kentucky has such a important and powerful guy in the Senate Volvo Seniority with all this power he you can do all these great things for Kentucky well. There's an example of him. Just basically spitting in there I well it depends who you consider Kentucky because if somebody owns those coal mines and they're probably from Kentucky may be some of them. Maybe maybe not necessarily but those people he's courted sure. Has He ever right yeah when he first ran for the Senate in nineteen eighty four <hes> after two terms is the chief executive of Jefferson County he that was a time and I am not left there that long before and I knew it because I covered it. The coal industry was undoubtedly the most powerful political force in the state <hes> the electric utilities were in concert with them and they burned all the coal for the electricity in the state but but the utilities were regulated by the State Public Service Commission and they were a little more cautious politically the coal operators association K._O._A.. I was way out front way intimidating in their politics way eager to play the bad guy they didn't care. I was the way they thought they would control all the obstreperous miners and so forth and and Mitch McConnell from Louisville where it was hard to get elected statewide did whatever he could good to play up to them and he's done it ever since I mean he's proudly in the pocket of the coal Australia the own the owners the owners he's proudly in the pocket and the miners at that time and still in Kentucky are mostly union. They're mostly members of the United Mine. Workers and Mitch is the sworn enemy of unions even and though he began his career when he first ran for county executive with the endorsement he sought and got the endorsement of the N._F._l.. CEO Council and Whitman promptly ignored ignored the fact that he done so soon as he got elected not not only did he ignored. I I read this book the CYNIC <hes> about him not only did he ignore that he actually said that yeah I <hes> I said I was pro union but I didn't mean it but I just did it to get at the N._F._l.. CEOS endorsement yes and that as another signature part of the public persona of Mitch McConnell he proudly advertises sizes his political cynicism. He's proud of it because he's told himself it's for a higher purpose of rolling back. The role of government and in our lives that I mean I think that's how he justifies his favorite philosopher. I don't know how much philosophy actually reads is is <hes> is Edmond Burke and he considers himself when he's trying to claim an intellectual gloss Roy what he's doing is this principle conservative but really wait what he's always been for is POW in strictly for in a way that I haven't seen in any other politician that I've covered in the slow here like like Oh. He's proud of the the meme Berkeley Wings is all that that's not true. I just say says just to get dummies like Howard to go read Edmond Burke but the yeah he's he's naked he's naked about in in that sense he he was trump before trump was trump because is one of the keys to both of them is there utter shameless pride in their cynicism and their power manipulation and what's what gives it a twist twist with Mitch McConnell as it he claims to adore and revere institutions like the Republican that hardy the Berkey and yeah that's that's not true. No he not only is it not true not only is it not true al he has done everything he can to destroy Oy the independent power of those institutions in gather that power in his own hands. He's basically if not being the major cause of ruining the Senate as we used nice to know it he's he's done it and he's gathered the power in his own hands. As for the Republican party he became a willing ally of of <hes> donald trump jump in destroying the independent power of the Republican Party Mitch McConnell became the first and best of the modern fundraisers who made the money go through him but unlike Lyndon Johnson who did the same thing Mitch didn't do it for the purpose of building up the Democratic Party at all he did did it only for himself. We really should give some time to defending Mitch so we should give some time into that. Okay that's enough so now okay so so he maintained that molecule hope. Let's say that I I don't know why I know. I don't know why I just don't know why okay <hes> school busing because that's been in the news yeah of late and I remember Louisville had a big school bussing thing in nineteen seventy four and wasn't popular very no it was it was a federally court ordered busing for Integration Plan <hes> it was the same year as Boston and that was also federally quartered at one in Louisville at what it did was it ordered the combination of the city of Louisville schools which had been desegregated on their own the decade before and which had almost almost all of the blacks living in that county of Jefferson County and the county suburban schools which were almost entirely lily white and Dan when that federal quarter to came in <hes> it exploded the city the powers that be at the newspaper I worked for <hes> in in government tried to be responsible tried to make it work tried to make the combination work it became one of the largest school districts in the country country but there was severe and sometimes violent protests against it in those suburbs it essentially ruined the career rear of the Chief Executive of the county at that time and didn't help the mayor that much either but the reason you bring up that county guy is that Ed Iran against bench right yes he was the incumbent in nineteen seventy seven Mitch McConnell realizing that the busing issue had severely damaged the incumbent covent saw that he had an opening and it was created by bussing but since he'd had a moderate background and since he wanted the support of the the powers that be in the region he was very shrewd about not using directly using the busing issue in his campaign or in his advertising Yes yes he didn't have an even though he privately knew that he didn't have to because it had so weakened his opponent but as soon as he won he made it clear ear that he was for an amendment to prevent federally court ordered busing. We obviously had this come up in the democratic debates Kamla Harris. I brought that up to criticize Biden for being for local so she must be four federally mandated busing. I would think then right well l. now she now because I let me <hes> the problem still exists. I mean they are even worse in some respects yeah so because a lot of weight yes because what happened in places Louisville and elsewhere <hes> especially in the south the white people fled the fled the public schools and <hes> this is true all over the country actually and in the south are called Christian Academy's but all around the country yes white people fled the public schools so the situation a mayor Specter's even worse. The problem is you can't have a court order on the Christian schools yeah but yes yes in the debate of the other week. Kamala Harris seem to be saying that she supported federal court ordered busing as she criticised Joe Biden for not doing so in for saying that could be a local initiative but it can't be ordered from above Bob by the federal courts but that's her position now. Is that what yoursel that's not her position now her position now is now. I really am not in favour of federal court ordered busing either and it should be a local concern. I but that's my man I mean so her position. Now is closer to where Biden was if not not identical with where we're Biden is. She should have said that well. Let's see if that comes up in the next debate because Joe Biden has said you know no more Mister Nice sky. I'm GONNA fire back. I was not prepared for that. Last time I will be this time. I would expect I think <hes> the way the debate is set up for Detroit. The two nights debates debates. I think Joe Biden and Camera Harris or on the same night so I would expect that subject to come up again okay so he he runs for the Senate. Roger Ailes is his guy yeah is does add so and Roger Ailes is on his way up in the yeah Republican Party well yeah. This is just Nice Guy Nice gyn one yeah Yeah Yeah Roger Ailes head <hes> had not yet distinguished English himself with the Willie Horton <hes> stuff in the race issue later on which happened a few ways ramping up to that his ramping up that but in the case of <hes> Mitch McConnell's race in eighty four and Kentucky Ronald Reagan was a very popular president with Republicans and Pretty Popular Overall and <hes> Mitch was lucky to be running for Senate for the First Time Out of Louisville which is I said hard to get elected statewide aside from Louisville <hes> with Ronald Reagan at the top of the ticket Ronald Reagan Won Kentucky by about two hundred thirty five thousand votes Mitch McConnell barely early beat barely beat <hes> a colorless incumbent named Dee Huddleston from Western Kentucky the Democrat and their ad that <hes> Roger ailes produced was the famous ad in which they parked on Huddleston is <hes> mediocre attendance and voting voting record he didn't show up all the time to vote and they had a bunch of bloodhounds pouring out of the back of a pickup truck searching for Dee Huddleston Charleston bloodhounds looking for the ladder Ston. It sounds like a real club that had the additional benefit for Mitch of making it seem seemed like he knew what a bloodhound was which I'm not sure that he did since he grew up in the suburbs of Louisville okay so he's in the Senate and McCain Feingold comes up right <hes> and I remember <hes> because when we did the disclose act later after citizens united we wanted the least for disclosure disclosure yes which Kennedy who wrote the opinion on citizens united had said this'll be great because everyone will know yeah that was in the Yes. I know we wanted to <hes> the Democrats wanted to <hes> have disclosed thing where you disclose and Dan he had said during McCain Feingold he said that disclosure is the great disinfectant that's what he said right and a lot of them like Orrin Hatch and those people who voted against McCain Feingold said similar things disclosure disclosure disclosure. I remember one of them saying think. Of course we had fifty nine in the Senate at that time Democrats 'cause <hes> Scott Brown won the race so we have we have to get every the democratic vote and one Republican and we don't get it when we know we're not GonNa get it so I'm sitting in the well memorize who said what so you know Sarah McConnell and he's walking up to do is vote and I go like Sunshine's grades disinfectant and <hes> he just ignored me of course every once in a while someone will get irked that I was throwing that interfaces and they'd say something like well all this one treats unions differently than corporations and I go no it doesn't and they go away and then <laughter> and then so at one point a senator comes up and says maybe the stupidest thing publican center is baby the stupidest thing I heard from any senator <hes> vase air and I say I'm saying something to somebody about what he had said and he goes like well. You know some people don't have to disclose and I go way. What do you mean like who who doesn't have to disclose if they give over ten thousand well? I'll let say the The New York Times runs an editorial. It doesn't Purely political entities yeah. They're saying that it's like a best yeah yeah but it's kind of disclosed. Well look one of the consistent patterns patterns of <hes> Mitch McConnell's career. Is it every time you think he can't be that cynical and disregarding thing of what he said or argued before <hes> your proved wrong because he because he has he has something that that is a gift for certain politicians which that he was born without of the the D._N._a.. That creates the emotion of shame shame in the public mind I mean in his mind he's he cannot be shamed into admitting admitting that any of his apocryphal are cynicisms. He's proud of him. He's he's not only on Shane Mommy's proud of him because he thinks he's doing it for a higher purpose and what he's told himself is the importance of not letting the government run everything <hes> and this is a powerful thing in Kentucky. I mean I I spent five years there. And of course the Great Paradox is that Kentucky is one of the places where more citizens rely on federal benefits than than most those places in the country <hes> one well. They must realize that no they don't they talk ends. No they don't they don't realize it. They're not grateful because is it goes against their view of themselves right okay so here's a really cynical thing he did in two thousand six and George W Bush wrote about this in his memoir no bigger supporter of the war in Iraq than Mitch McConnell but he goes to the White House else and he ass President Bush to to draw down the troops before the <hes> <hes> two thousand six election the look like he's kind of moving to get out <hes> and a it. Bush said something like I'm going to have as many troops as they can win the war not the win the election yeah people get killed because you draw down had for no well again. Mitch McConnell's only concern for some reason from a young age <hes> he decided that what he wanted the his route to power and control of circumstances which I guess you could argue. He felt as polio victim or whatever he didn't have is to be lead the majority leader of the Senate now and run the Senate in the in the manner I he's never given any particular credit or nod to Lyndon Johnson but you know Robert Caro <hes> the great journalist and biographer spent basically his whole life trying to figure out and and and describe Linden Johnson's his greatness as a political figure <hes> which was based on being Senate Majority Leader and and I guess Mitch grew up during that time and for some reason or other may be was that decided he wanted to be majority leader and <hes> and be like Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Johnson of the Republican Party or something. I don't know what to sue he sort of actually the Anti Lyndon Johnson Yeah Bill off the Great Society and <hes> signed the civil push the Civil Rights Act and and did his best he could domestically domestically right to make the government of force for good <hes> Mitch's exactly the opposite he wanted. Anybody wants that power so he would be utterly willing to go in and tell George Bush wish that not because he cared about the war Mitch McConnell who by the way got didn't have to go into Vietnam because of he had a genuine Florida genuine four F. but it wasn't for him but interestingly it wasn't coming through quite fast enough for him to get out out of <hes> the training that he was in <hes> so he could pursue his his his legal career and then his political career so he got John Sherman Sherman Cooper to Senator Senator John Sherman Cooper who he worked for he worked for and who is one of his idols to to get them out but in any case Mitch McConnell didn't care about that it about what was actually happening in Iraq Jesus. You can't get a pass on polio but bone spurs or whatever crap ah I mean that's crazy yeah now. I have some sympathy yeah all right but then the molecule are at the point the point. Is that <hes> I think it's interesting that George W Bush saw that for what it was which was just a an utterly craven political ploy well hey and even George Bush was too much for George W Bush who was not above some of that himself. <hes> put it in his <hes>. Put it in his autobiography. I thought that's very interesting and damning of Mitch McConnell so Mitch McConnell <hes> I got on the bad side of him once and and <hes> you don't say Elena Kagan <hes> was our nominee. We are about to have the vote on her and he was because I believe the second last speech in Harry. Reid was last one so he gave this speech. That was unbelievably condescending to her. No one has any doubt that Ms Cagan is bright and personable and easy to get along with but the Supreme Brain Court is not a dinner club if getting along and polite society were enough to put somebody on the Supreme Court then we wouldn't need confirmation hearings at all. The goal here is not okay determine whether we think someone will get along well with the other a justice okay <hes>. It's a pretty weak argument vehement well. I mean imagine that you're saying <hes> you know. No one has ended out that Neil gorsuch is bright and personable and easy on the eye I mean this is so crazily sexist. Oh I start laughing and I can't help myself because the whole speeches like this uh-huh I'm presiding I'm presiding. I should make that clear. I start laughing and he's speaking to Mr President President Yeah. Yeah that's me and I'm just going like I can't stop laughing now. This is what most people do when they're presiding they okay <hes> read their press clipping and and I because I was a performer had been a performer I I listened to every speech like gave eye contact to the speaker and it was to some of them was unnerving yup because no one had ever done that and were you looking at. Were you looking at Mitch and laughing yes and that was a mistake and I own it as mistake. It's mistake you shouldn't do that well. There is no greater wound to Mitch McConnell then when he standing up there as a leader of the Senate his lifelong Dream Kareem to be taken seriously and not dismissed but be admired and feared and respected for somebody to laugh in his face yeah he got mad. He got mad a marched up there after he was done and he said this is not Saturday night. Live and you say loud enough for the press is right bomb <hes> there and <hes> he said you do that next time. I'm going to call you out and and I knew right away that fucked up and I knew the president heard it so <hes> right away right after that we had I was presiding so I had to stay and <hes> we had the vote and announced the Cagan was gorgeous like I went to his office. You know sh weren't there and he wasn't there air so I left a note ball gazing of myself and Sam I'm sorry you know and then I went to my office and they said Holy Shit at the you know the press had picked it up and <hes> so he <hes> accepted my apology so that was personally. I mean was it. No well no no no. We're about to go on a break so I will. I'll say that <hes> we just didn't see each other but his <hes> his his press secretary issued something like this. You know <hes> senator are Franken's apologies and appropriate response or something like that yeah so after we got over his fury then he had you yeah but he let me off. I know I know but then he really had you. Oh I see I see damn dumb. Ah Knowing Him. That's that's the thing that just drives him nuts. He doesn't care if he's hated. He'd prefer he expects to be hated but he expects somehow that that will produce however reluctantly in other people respect. Let's go to a President Obama gets selected and he says the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be one term president that wasn't said on election night by although he supposedly he might have said that privately to people because what what he was doing on what they did did immediately upon election of Obama was ga- McConnell gathered together the troops and they began trying to figure out how they were. GonNa fight him from the start because basically when I came we had sixty votes right because Arlen Specter switch switch right but they were going to delay the start using the filibuster eventually but he eventually did said I think he said in in early twenty ten our main objective is to make him one turn President President the point is from the very beginning the idea was never never and what acquaint notion it would have. It now seems in our politics for the opposition party to say you know. Let's give the guy a little time. Let's see where we can work together to start for of course what we always do Democrats. No the Democrats don't do that either not anymore not anymore because when when trump but it was trump it's not like a real test yeah well. You believe that when trump came in yeah the Democrats said Oh my God you know let's let's but I think that we would have worked with him. He had something to work with right and if he had any interest in and playing ball that way but the fact is in a way Mitch McConnell prepared the ground for Donald Trump Yeah Mitch McConnell Mitch rich McConnell's rejection of the idea of cooperation which you're talking about now with regard to Obama the sort of wholesale rejection action of the system in a way. I mean to say that you're not going to work with the president is is to violate the spirit and in many ways the letter of the constitution institution and McConnell was perfectly willing to do that eager to do it eager to do it <hes> to destroy the relationship between the presidency and the Congress to to undercut to the extent that he could the legitimacy of the president of the United States. You don't don't one thing he did that. I know I haven't heard other people talk about. This is something I would go to the APEC dinner and almost every member of Congress go oh to it and it was his bipartisan thing right before the two thousand twelve election. McConnell gets up and for the first time I've ever heard. He is a rabidly partisan speech. <hes> basically saying. Republicans Republicans are the Friends of Israel and Obama and the Democrats are you know it's enemies and I walked out and and I didn't see anyone else walk out but I walked out because the biggest strategic advantage geo political advantage Israel had was bipartisan partisan support that we had been totally bipartisan support Israel until that moment in the reason for that is <hes> <hes> so Mitch McConnell is undercutting Israel's what you're saying yeah which he is it which some political van for some political advantage he is going. He's saying he's as politicized the whole thing and the reason is by that point <hes> Barack Obama had <hes> had disagreements with Netanyahu Oh and and and the Democrats were beginning you saw the slivers of division in the Democratic Party and Mitch McConnell saw an avenue a new to exploit those divisions so suddenly something he basically didn't care much about it was just a box he was going to check off like every other became a strategic officer Sheldon Alvin Adelson yeah and the and the money and but but more than the money because they get money lots of places frankly don't necessarily. Early Need Sheldon Adelson for the money. It's the division of the Democratic Party that they're looking at that. They're try think he has really done sure he's done it and it's to the long ranged. If you care about Israel's existence. It's a long range threats now a real threat to his room because it in that Tom Political I put that at his feet and he knows that anyway okay then we get Scalia dying right okay Emmerich Arlen and my God well. There's a new book out that <hes> that <hes> I read in preparation for this <hes> called confirmation bias. It's by Carl Hall Sues <hes> New York Times very good New York Times reporters covered the hill for a long time and it's covered McConnell for for a long time and covered the confirmation hearings longtime and he lays out in detail as did an earlier piece in the New York Times just how McConnell within minutes of the death of Scalia was already setting stone the strategy of Republican Refusal Wholesale Republican few refusal to consider a replacement during the last year of Obama's term and McConnell did that he realized that it was important that he instantly like they were still you know carting poor old scalise body out of the lodge in west West Texas when McConnell was on the phone with people saying we've got to immediately say an I am going to immediately say I'm not going to consult with the Republican Caucus. I'm going to immediately say and put it out publicly that as Republican leader <hes> we are not going <music> as majority leader. We are not going to consider a replacement for Scalia in the last year of the Obama term away to the next President Biden rural yet and we're going to do it. Ah Yes we'RE GONNA. We're GONNA do it <hes> and he wanted to get out ahead of Ted. Cruz who he was afraid would make an issue out of it and it would be identified ride with crews who everybody hated and not with McConnell who everybody hated but also feared and and so he did that and it was because of McConnell's Dell's move <hes> entirely because of that instant decision within an hour of the death of Scalia to put out that public statement that the result was that <hes> <hes> Garland never got a hearing and I I was on judiciary Republicans on judiciary kept saying Biden rule and that was is complete bullshit yes because what Biden had biden had given the speech but it was at the end of of session like in June of before an election and he is saying if wanted one of these guys retire then N- <hes> were not going to confirm somebody unless and he says unless there it's a moderate and he said I or and unless were consulted yeah. I have to say well. I'm not sure what would have happened in Garland Ireland. I think it was outrageous but <hes> that's that's Mitch McConnell and it was what he realized that was so I think what would have ever Garland is that he would have been unconfirmed because and I think that's why he didn't want hearings is because Merrick Garland is Bryant and unbelievably unbelievably <hes> he he was a consensus builder on on the Circuit Yeah I it's very possible but my my point about McConnell is he was so he's so cunning in the in the in the destruction of institutions to serve his own purposes in other words the caucus in theory the party caucuses are still supposed to be a big thing <hes> to some people <hes> but Mitch totally ignored the caucus in order to issue that public edict which ended up working and then after that he was instrumental and coming up with the the list of <hes> Farrell Society Federal Society list he worked very closely with Leonard Leo and all those people to put together list and and he argues McConnell argues that it was because of the list <hes> which he claimed credit for which actually was done mcgann's idea but it doesn't matter <hes> <hes> that got trump elected yeah and it was because basically trump yeah. That's how he got the Van Djelic yes that's trust them but he said Lay said look here's this list well and it's Farrell Society and the Heritage Foundation right right I N he's picked people from that that list and Dan and basically turned over the entire nomination process to to <hes> Leo in the Federal Society Yup Bryant move. He's a he didn't want because he didn't think he could win and maybe even because he found him not only repulsive also but <hes> was worried that he couldn't control him <hes> he was against trump during the republican initially during the Republican primaries he was almost part. We never trump thing. He didn't quite get there which is typical McConnell but he would have preferred almost any other candidate to Donald Donald Trump but then when he saw the trump was actually going to win the nomination he completely shifted <hes> member. I'm talking about how we can drop in Muck. A hot. The Hot Rock meaning trump <hes> Mitch embraced the hot rock and he also learned not to be offended by trump trump <laughter> style and in fact to talk to trump all the time he talks to trump constantly because trump loves phone and <hes> he instructs trucks trump in some of the mysteries of the Senate and makes trump feel like he knows what's going on. It's hard to overstate how much power Mitch McConnell now has. I mean he's right up there with the president certainly in terms of the judiciary he basically McConnell basically runs. It basically runs it while mcgann of course did I mean why else Cowo- you know what I want to go back to the A._C._A.. Hey <hes> it just quickly and then go to <hes> repeal and replace okay. I remember the member Max Baucus Yeah. The Montana was trying to put together a bipartisan. Yes recall a healthcare plan and <hes> he had Grassley and C.. The and Olympia Snowe they was working with and this went on for months and we would have a caucus launch Max would make a report award and all we're not there yet. We're not there yet. We're not there yet and finally after three months of this four months of this he goes <hes> well fallen apart and we it's not going to happen. We're just not going to get a bipartisan agreement. Arlen Specter says I could've told you that and I say then why didn't you I couldn't believe it like Ireland and so <hes> for every conceivable reason under the Sun Mitch McConnell wanted wanted to kill that thing and prevent it and it's hey concern every conceivable way it's for every conceivable reason yes a plan actually put together by the Heritage Foundation right well. I all senators especially ones who served served for a long time many of them not all but many have to account for previous things they said in part of Joe Biden's problem running for president is there lots of Biden enrolls out there that people can twist and turn around based on what he said over such a long career in Biden cares about that he cares about trying to be consistent even if he isn't <hes> McConnell doesn't care yet you can say to him. Hey you know you're you protested. What Harry Reid did with a nuclear option on the on the judges judges and now you're doing it on even worse than he did? McConnell's not going to buy it he will he will not he's impervious to this. He's Gonna I say we're. We're doing 'cause 'cause harried it right but yes he yes where he can. He will blame the other side where he can't blame the other side. He'll I'll just say nothing. We'll just say we have the right to do it. Okay so now let's go to repeal and replace Russia had yeah they win win in <hes> in sixteen they have <hes> everything they have the House and Senate <hes> and they have the presidency and suddenly a eight years of saying. We're going to repeal and replace. Everyone's going like okay eight years who had <hes> let's see what are you got. It turned out they hadn't done anything to quote Arlen Specter. I coulda told you and <hes> so Mitch puts twelve men <hes> white man in a room yeah that's that's and they come up with something and what they come up with is like twenty two million people will lose their insurance. Medicaid will be slashed so people in role you know <hes> people no longer rural hospitals I I did tour Minnesota rural hospitals during that time time after after he released that plan rural hospitals are doing great because they expanded Medicaid and that meant there was less uncompensated care so people now who went into emergency room Medicaid paid for it so the hospitals had a lot of money they had more money so they could hire more technicians than more doctors jurors and they could nurses in housekeepers and the food was better. I went to a rural town in Minnesota. Where where the best restaurant in town was the hospital cafeteria? People would go out to dinner at the you know now. They got a great lasagna. There you know I'm and people they had expanded care people were freaked out and at what they did and yet he almost got it done. It's interesting I think that was a miscalculation by him and it cost didn't cost him the Senate but it cost system that arguably it cost him the house and that was a rare miscalculation from the narrow perspective of accumulating power <hes> but don't forget McConnell back in Kentucky meanwhile the trends that he set in motion were beginning or threatening to engulf him because the tea party he is the natural conclusion <hes> a natural product of MC McConnell's Khanna politics as they evolved they saw him as the establishment establishment guy suddenly the way he'd gone and accumulated power in Washington was was something of a threat to him and a guy came up to run against him in the primary Matt Bevin who is now the governor <hes> who seriously challenged him from the I wouldn't say necessarily from the right but from from the populist Anti Establishment Bushman perspective so Mitch probably engaged in that risky exercise partly to defend himself and <hes> it kind of kind of backfired. I think he's now tame those people he's now so close to trump he's inseparable from trump that that will protect Mitch Catch <hes> in Kentucky where he's up again this time but <hes> yet pitch totally perfect gamed even have a shot at beating him and he's he's GonNa be et Cetera Republicans. It's totally republican state now and he'll he'll hope to continue putting judges in the courts and I don't know what else <hes> his ultimate hope is for somebody to acknowledge him as a master somebody credit. Yes somebody credible. Bless play a joke on him. Let's get Carro to call him up. Call him up and said you know what I'm canceling the last book the last volume on on Johnson because one. I'm sick of doing John Yeah. I just can't and to your the Anti Master. You're the destroyer of the sun. I've been watching you and God and why am I respect how what's full you along. What's more interesting building or destroying? Any child knows that this is Roy any Iran I actually I know a bunch of these popular historians. Maybe I'll convince my friend meacham to Jon meacham to do it. Oh just as it shows I I. I have to make sure that finally came up with a good idea here on the show yeah I I have to make sure that that Jon Meacham knows. It's a joke yeah mm-hmm yeah I think I think he will. He will yeah Howard thank you thank you <hes> we had had fun. I had a great time good

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