Fascinating feature length article. Required reading for political afficianados.
Excerpted from The New Republic 3.21.2019
Mitch McConnell is just what he looks like: a man serenely unbothered by anything he’s done to get his power or anything he’s done with it, having few friends but many allies.
As Trump’s presidency has predictably proved to be a series of outrages and self-inflicted national crises, punctuated with periodic updates on all the crimes and should-be-crimes his friends, associates, and children have committed, McConnell has receded into the wallpaper. It’s another of his special political talents. During that historic shutdown, he simply vanished for days at a time, letting his louder, dimmer counterpart in the Democratic minority, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, make himself the face of the Senate side of the negotiations. And the thing is, with every other major player in Washington desperate to get in front of a camera, this strategy works astoundingly well at deflecting attention and blame for things that are absolutely your own fault.
Recounting McConnell’s handling of a prior crisis, Bloomberg Businessweek writer Joshua Green described his strategy well: “McConnell nevertheless manipulates the press masterfully, using methods that are head-smackingly obvious and yet still elude most politicians. He knows exactly what he wants to say, repeats it with emphasis, then stops.” For those wondering how he’ll react if the government shuts down again, or if Trump causes some constitutional crisis by firing everyone investigating him, or if John Bolton declares war on Sweden, there’s your answer.
McConnell and his first wife would be divorced. Sherrill Redmon (shown in photo below) went on, improbably, to become the director of the Sophia Smith collection of Women’s History at Smith College, where she collaborated with Gloria Steinem on the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project. He does not bring her up often.