When I was a kid in Brooklyn, some kids called me “Mookie.” I think it was a combination of “Mikey” and “Moose” (although my skinny self was far from moose-like). At first, it annoyed me, but I realized it could be worse. They nicknamed my classmate Kenny “Creep.” Why? Probably because Kenny was a creep.
Which leads me to “Moscow Mitch.” The nickname was pinned on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by Joe Scarborough, the former Florida congressman who hosts “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, and spread like wildfire, offending McConnell, who returned to Washington this week after the congressional summer break.
Why Moscow Mitch? U.S. intelligence is unanimous that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to disrupt the 2020 elections, too. Yet McConnell has blocked bills geared to stop foreign hackers from attacking U.S. voting systems.
Before the 2016 election, President Barack Obama learned from U.S. intelligence about Russia’s interference. He wanted Congress to send out a strong letter warning such meddling wouldn’t be tolerated.
McConnell refused to sign the letter, and said he would “consider efforts to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”
Christopher Wray, the FBI director under President Donald Trump, has told the Senate that “The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.” Ret. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrote in Politico Magazine: “America is totally unprepared for what is coming because it will be like nothing we’ve seen before.”
McConnell is ignoring both warnings. Why?
Trump has repeatedly sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence about whether Russia interfered in 2016. When asked to strongly warn Putin not to interfere in next year’s elections, Trump mockingly turned to Putin and said with a smile, “Don’t interfere in our elections,” making a joke of it.
As Democratic presidential candidates debate and Trump ramps up his reelection bid, an ominous cloud looms over our democratic process. Will the elections be on the level, or rigged?
Meanwhile, McConnell fumes over the nickname “Moscow Mitch,” whining that it is “unbelievable,” “over the top” and “modern-day McCarthyism.”
Hit a nerve, Moscow Mitch?
Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.