Southern Politics

Mitch McConnellWhen our eldest grandson was about four and his mother failed to satisfy some demand, he kicked her in the shins. Since this happened at grandpa’s pond, he was immediately hauled to “his” room to let it register that such aggression was simply not going to be tolerated. But, what I most remember is the feeling of shock that such a little person would attack his own mother. In retrospect, it seems the notion that inflicting punishment to get what one wants is a very primitive one. Bullies are born, it seems; not made. And some, if Mitch McConnell at age 69 is an example, never grow out of it.

How else to explain the Senior Senator from Kentucky, who, for over a quarter century, has sucked at the federal teat, now turning on his own cohort, willing to put the good faith and credit of the American people at risk, just to gut their Medicare program? What’s McConnell got against old people like himself? Have they somehow failed to satisfy an irrational whim of his or is it just a matter of Capitol Hill being turned into a playground where the instinct-driven get free rein behind the shield of public service? Does public service make bullying look selfless — a matter of principle — because it’s always someone else’s goose that’s to be cooked.

Fact is, there’s a gang on Capitol Hill that’s increasingly power-addled. And since power, to be felt, has to hurt, when it’s the old people that are the current target, kicking them into an early grave isn’t the intent, it’s just an unfortunate side-effect. Ditto for consigning our youth to permanent penury in the effort to educate themselves. Moreover, if the middlemen (insurers and banksters) get to suckle at the public teat in the process, that too is an ancillary side-effect to be brought up short whenever the impulse to punish needs to be satisfied.

Except, it never is. The impulse to punish seems primitive and like the gonadal impulses which lead to the seven deadly sins (wrath, pride, greed, gluttony, envy, lust and sloth) either gets mastered in the juvenile years or persists, perhaps because too many of us nurturing mothers put up with it.

It’s tempting to refer to McConnell as a juvenile terrorist. Causing terror is characteristic juvenile behavior. However, a terrorist is one who succeeds. Unless we give in, McConnell and his gang are just terrors, like Dennis the Menace–to be enjoyed with your morning cup ‘a Joe. Mitch the Menace will be with us until 2014.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."