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You go see Miss Mitch McConnell when he’s gone

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Last week, the top Republican in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, was hospitalized after he tripped and suffered a concussion. I found that alarming — but not as alarming as the realization that McConnell is older than both Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

No, this is not another column complaining about American gerontocracy. Indeed, McConnell has the energy and sharpness of a 55-year-old man – which is why this latest leak shocked me. I believe that while McConnell is far from perfect, losing him now would be devastating to the Republican Party and America.

I am not alone in my thought process. If The hills Alexander Bolton writes that McConnell’s injury “left some GOP senators unsettled and worried about the future.” For example, a Republican senator told him, “I think, who would our next leader be and what kind of leader would that person be? Yes, I do worry about that.”

The GOP screwed up by calling everything “Woke.”

More about that later. But first I want to focus on McConnell’s age; the guy is 81 years old.

Recently, National review Dan McLaughlin (“Baseball Crank” on Twitter) described how old Joe Biden is. “One of Queen Victoria’s children was alive when Joe Biden was born,” McLaughlin noted. So did Orville Wright. Just like Grover Cleveland’s widow. Martin Luther King Jr. was 13. Elvis was seven. Anne Frank was in hiding for four months, in a country whose exiled queen had been on the throne since 1890.”

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Each of these things also happened in McConnell’s lifetime. Heck, McConnell contracted polio as a child (Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was introduced in 1955). McConnell was present when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. McConnell is also the longest-serving leader in Senate history.

I’m not bringing this up to argue that McConnell is somehow unfit for the job or that he should retire. On the contrary. In fact, I make the opposite point. McConnell could be indispensable.

Sure, he’s disappointed me over the years (his nadir may be his refusal to vote to convict Donald Trump during his impeachment trial after Jan. 6), but it’s hard to imagine a Republican leader in this era who is at the same time an effective conservative leader (he is probably responsible more than anyone else for confirming conservative judges) And willing to take on MAGA troops on behalf of institutions and liberal democracy.

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Trump owes it all to McConnell’s ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’

Instead of recounting all the times McConnell courageously opposed Trump and Trumpism, let’s take a look at what he literally did the day before his downfall: He publicly denounced the selectively edited Jan. 6 video that ran on Fox News. “I want to fully concur with the views of the Capitol Chief and Police on what happened on January 6,” McConnell said. “It was, in my opinion, a mistake on Fox News’ part to portray this in a way that completely contradicts what our Chief Law Enforcement Officer here at the Capitol thinks.”

This was no small thing. Video of McConnell (and other Republican senators) condemning the video broadcast by Fox News was widely shown by news reporters, including Fox News’ Bret Baier Special report.

This is important when considering how things could be if a different Republicans were in McConnell’s shoes. After all, McConnell’s counterpart in the House, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, provided the security footage to Fox News in the first place.

Now chances are if and when Mitch McConnell leaves the US Senate, he won’t be replaced by a MAGA populist like Senator Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz. Not right away, at least. Yet this year McConnell had to fend off a leadership challenge from Senator Rick Scott (who was endorsed by Trump). Ask yourself if Rick Scott would be more like McConnell or more like McCarthy.

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Why does Kevin McCarthy even want to be a speaker at this point?

It’s too early to hit the panic button, but these recent developments are a reminder that McConnell won’t be here forever. And even if the person who replaces him want to to do the right thing, that person will not have the political skills, experience, toughness and knowledge that McConnell possesses.

He is in the autumn of his years. The end of the McConnell era is near; we have to start preparing for it. Whether liberal or conservative, McConnell’s exodus—whenever that happens (and let’s hope it’s a long way off)—should be greeted with sadness and fear. You’ll never know how good you had it until it’s gone.

He really is the last bulwark against the barbarians at the gate.

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