We Miss Mike

A kind, civil, obliging leader, Mansfield always respected “the other side of the aisles”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader, has proven himself to be is no Mike Mansfield.

Montana’s senator was also the majority leader, one who served that position longer than any senator in history, from1961 until 1977. A kind, civil, obliging leader, Mansfield always respected “the other side of the aisles;” during Mike’s time that meant the Senate’s Republicans. He valued their opinions and always included them with his Democratic majority in discussions about important pending votes.

During Mansfield’s tenure as Senate leader, presidents nominated 13 people to the Supreme Court, six of those were Republicans. Not one of them was rejected by Mike the way McConnell did with Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Mike Mansfield would have abhorred the “enjoyment” McConnell said he felt when haughtily telling President Obama: “Mr. President, you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.”

Winning that one, McConnell determinedly set out to secure the Court’s critical “swing vote” for Brett Kavanaugh, the truth-starved, boozy, former scandal monger who, when younger, worked for the Republican National Committee and among other dirty work, spread repulsive lies about the tragic suicide death of a Clinton White House staff person Vince Foster. One of Kavanaugh’s fellow workers at the time, David Brooks, recalls, “I was watching Kavanaugh during a TV news report and when Hillary Clinton briefly appeared on the television screen, I saw Kavanaugh mouth the word, ‘bitch.’

Can anyone who knew Mansfield or has examined history of those times, imagine either Mike or his Senate colleagues, Republicans included, countenancing such behavior in a nominee for the Supreme Court or the United States Senate? I knew Mike well, and I’m certain he would be appalled, although silently appalled, by the actions of both Kavanaugh and Mitch McConnell. This is not the Senate Mike so carefully nurtured and patiently changed for the better more than forty- five years ago. Nor would this newest member of the Supreme Court have passed muster back then. Indeed, these current times are not only mean but perhaps dangerous as well.

Pat Williams, for U.S. congressman