Opinion: Mitch McConnell, naked and afraid


HR King
May 29, 2001
Opinion by
Dana Milbank
July 9, 2021|Updated today at 10:29 a.m. EDT

On rare occasions, Mitch McConnell can summon the ability to mimic human emotions.
Ten days ago, for example, the Senate Republican leader was asked, at a Chamber of Commerce event, to imagine: “You’re stranded on a desert island and you can only have one companion. Your choices are Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter. Who do you choose?"

McConnell had little hesitation. “Biden and I did four bipartisan deals during the Obama administration. I consider him a personal friend,” he said. “I was the only Republican who went to his son Beau’s funeral. So that would be an easy choice. I think Biden is a first-rate person.”
McConnell’s desert-island answer gave me the unfortunate mental image of the two septuagenarians competing together on Discovery’s reality TV show “Naked and Afraid,” in which an unclothed pair are dropped in the wilderness for 21 days with only one survival item apiece. For reasons of good taste, I picture our contestants clothed: marooned Biden wearing Ray-Bans and shirtsleeves and marooned McConnell in pinstriped suit. Biden’s survival item is a cup for boiling water. McConnell’s survival item is a filibuster. Instead of squabbling over campsite placement, they’re bickering about covid relief.


That’s just what our two castaways did this week. At an event in his home state, McConnell complained about Biden’s “wildly out of proportion” $2 trillion American Rescue Plan — while in the same breath mentioning what a boon it will be for Kentucky: “Not a single member of my party voted for it,” he said. “I didn’t vote for it. But you’re going to get a lot more money. Cities and counties in Kentucky are getting close to seven or 800 million dollars. If you add up the total amount that’ll come into our state, $4 billion, that’s twice what we sent in last year.”
I hate this windfall that will be so awesome for my constituents!
McConnell’s struggle for coherence prompted Biden to needle his desert-island pal. “Mitch McConnell loves our programs,” he teased. “He’s bragging about it in Kentucky.”

The confusion isn’t limited to covid relief. McConnell takes every opportunity to undermine this “first-rate person” and “personal friend” — both politically and personally.
McConnell waited more than five weeks before acknowledging Biden’s victory, allowing Donald Trump and his allies to delegitimize Biden — and the election — in the eyes of tens of millions of Trump supporters. McConnell didn’t speak up because he wanted Republicans to win Senate runoffs in Georgia. “Look, we need the president in Georgia and so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now,” McConnell told the attorney general, according to Jonathan Karl of ABC News.
McConnell withheld support for the new Senate’s organizing resolution for weeks, delaying consideration of his friend Biden’s nominees.

Asked about Trump’s election lies, McConnell instead attacked his friend. “One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration,” he said, also tagging friend Biden with the “socialist” moniker.

McConnell vowed to fight the covid relief legislation “in every way that we can.” He filibustered bipartisan legislation to create a commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. He filibustered equal-pay legislation requiring employers to show that they don’t discriminate against women. He filibustered voting rights legislation and upended bipartisan talks on legislation to address police brutality.
He has so far failed to endorse bipartisan infrastructure legislation, while saying he would wage a “hell of a fight” if Democrats go it alone.

And he stands by as his staff portrays Biden as senile. McConnell aides “have taken to describing the White House chief of staff as ‘Prime Minister Klain,’” the Hill reported, attempting “to undercut public perception of Biden as a leader who is totally with it.”

With friends like these …
McConnell is not a man you’d want in your foxhole — or on your desert island. But his treachery would make for good television. I propose a “Naked and Afraid” spinoff: "In the Swamp.”
Episode One: Biden erects a tent. McConnell knocks it down. Biden builds a hut. McConnell burns it down. Biden digs a shelter in the ground. McConnell fills it with scorpions and snakes.

Episode Two: The survivalists go fishing. Biden spears a fish. Biden goes foraging for kindling to cook the fish but returns to discover that McConnell has eaten the whole fish raw. McConnell blames Biden for his upset stomach.
Episode Three: McConnell introduces Biden to an orangutan he has befriended with blaze-orange fur. The orangutan destroys their camp, eats all their food, contaminates their water supply, then attacks the Discovery camera crew. But McConnell tells Biden he cannot stop the orangutan because there is a Senate runoff in Georgia.
Episode Four: Biden “taps out” and calls for a helicopter evacuation. McConnell, chased by the orangutan, clambers aboard, too. The men have survived only three days together. Each ends with a PSR (Primitive Survival Rating) score of zero.