Opinion

Kudos to Mitch McConnell’s final public service — confronting the isolationist right

Mitch McConnell has spent his 17 years as Republicans’ leader in the Senate frustrating — even tormenting — his Democratic counterparts.

The elder statesman from Kentucky is the chief architect of the Supreme Court’s originalist majority, and his deft navigation of treacherous political waters has served both conservatives’ policy goals and his colleagues’ electoral ones well.

He’s also delighted in his ability to thwart his bitter progressive opponents’ agenda, gleefully embracing the nickname “Grim Reaper.”

But as he finishes his final year as leader and prepares to spend his final few as a regular Senate member, McConnell’s focus has shifted.

In a Monday interview, he said he’d spend his last leg of public life confronting the advocates of a more laissez-faire American foreign policy.

“I’m particularly involved in actually fighting back against the isolationist movement in my own party and some in the other as well,” declared McConnell. “And the symbol of that lately is: Are we going to help Ukraine or not? I’ve got this on my mind for the next couple years as something I’m going to focus on.”

Even as some question the 82-year-old’s capacity, his new pet project indicates a mental and moral clarity his younger peers should envy.

“The prime minister of Japan said that if you want to send President Xi a message, beat Putin. That’s the view of the South Koreans, the Taiwanese and the Australians. This is a worldwide problem for democracies. And they need our leadership, and we need their partnership,” he submitted.

McConnell ascended to Congress’ upper chamber during the Reagan era — and it shows.

The Gipper taught his party — and for that matter his country — quite a lot.

For example: Although serving as the leader of the free world comes with costs, taking up that mantle without reservation is far preferable to the alternative of America’s enemies acting with impunity.

And for another: Although lazy attempts to blame domestic problems on foreign involvement might reap short-term political benefit, they are ultimately discrediting.

For a long time after Reagan left office, conservatives treated the propositions that peace can only be achieved through strength and American leadership on the world stage is indispensable as incontrovertible truths to be acted upon, not myths to be scoffed at.

Yet many in today’s Republican Party do scoff at them.

More members of McConnell’s caucus voted this year against a foreign-aid bill for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan (26) than for it (22).

And influential younger members of that caucus, such as Ohio’s J.D. Vance, have made it clear coaxing the GOP into abandoning the Reagan Doctrine is their raison d’être.

Vance has even explicitly identified leaving Ukraine out to dry as one of his most dearly held objectives in the Senate.

That’s a frightening prospect given the fact Donald Trump is reportedly considering picking Vance as his running mate.

Uncertainty, death and destruction have been the unmistakable consequences of President Biden’s weakness on the world stage.

Hamas butchered innocent men, women and children in Israel.

Iran’s mullahs and their proxies are emboldened, wreaking havoc wherever and whenever they can.

The Taliban have reestablished their medieval regime — and haven for terrorists — in Afghanistan.

And Russia embarked upon a bloody expansionist war against Ukraine.

How is it some Republicans can survey the wreckage of the Biden presidency and conclude the answer is doubling down on his failed approach?

If the isolationist right commandeers the GOP’s helm, it will spell disaster for the party, country and world.

Democrats may be playacting as Russia hawks because of their relatively newfound hostility toward President Vladimir Putin, but that tack has an expiration date and doesn’t appear to extend to America’s other adversaries.

If the United States is to remain Earth’s preeminent power and the planet is to continue enjoying the fruits of its righteous leadership, it will be because American conservatives continue to heed the lessons Reagan taught Mitch McConnell.

So let’s hope the Grim Reaper can kill at least one more bad idea.

Isaac Schorr is a staff writer at Mediaite.

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