While erstwhile “Louisville’s Plain Brown Rapper,” I wrote 275 columns for LEO, still one of my favorite organs of local information, opinion and Louisville lore.
Proudly – “bloodied but unbowed” – I was the self-described “Ancient Enemy of United States Senator and Republican Leader Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. (who much prefers to be called “Mitch” – who wouldn’t?).
As Momma use to tell me, give the Devil his due. Hence, I do so (drum roll) with this perspective of mine.
Mitch McConnell by art of compromise kept us off the first of three fiscal cliffs. I feel sure dark things were whispered in midnight meetings that would scare Alfred Hitchcock, but he got the job done when Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Harry Reid threw in the towel (more likely Mitch threw him under the bus) and negotiations restarted with President Barak Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Guess who ran that train? No lesser light than Louisville’s South End wonder, Mitch McConnell.
As simply as intellect allows, permit me to summarize the GREAT COMPROMISE that was struck by McConnell, Biden and Obama (in that order) just at 2012’s very closing hour ...
The status quo was basically maintained, to be brought up and somewhat fought all over again the next month. But allow me to break it down. Unemployment insurance was extended a year. Best I recall, the uber-rich making over $400,000 a year had their rates raised (which includes small businesses, ergo, fewer new jobs). Spending cuts were so minuscule as to be totally forgettable. Raising the debt ceiling was postponed. As for pork, e.g., Hollywood producers get a $430,000 tax cut if they film on American soil.
One man’s pork is another woman’s bacon.
Incidentally, I must remind those who matter that my PLAIN BROWN RAPPER column that appeared in the October 2011 issue of The Highlander Neighborhood Monthly was entitled “Ten-point Plan To Save The Economy.” My own damn opinion was that we needed to means test social security, repeal the Bush tax cuts, protect raising the retirement age (Medicare) to 67, reduce the number of military bases, repeal “Obamacare,” release non-violent offenders, reform death row appeals, legalize hemp, legalize medicinal marijuana and surgically examine the so-called “American Jobs Act.” How’s that for a progressive Republican package?
In 1977, Mitch emphasized he grew up “the hard way, the right way” in the South End.
Two years later, I used the same pitch, emphasizing that I, too, grew up this way – in the Parkland, Portland and Shawnee neighborhoods – and with great effort in this 3-1 Democratic county (at the time) was elected one of the three Jefferson County Commissioners.
On Jefferson Fiscal Court, we then had two Dems: Sylvia Watson and “Pop” Malone. Mitch and I were the Progressive Republicans and, modestly speaking, we won every fight. Compromise was the path. Mitch was phenomenal.
McConnell honed his cold-blooded skills of compromise on the whetstone of Jefferson County Government and in this exigency of late, it served America well.
So revel in the compliment, Addison, my boy, for it likely will be the last you’ll ever see me commit to print.
Because in the big picture, Senator Rand Paul was ULTIMATELY RIGHT. And you think that last fiscal cliff was steep, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
I find it interesting that KENTUCKY was the ONLY STATE with its two U.S. Senators split on the FISCAL CLIFF COMPROMISE. I believe Senator Rand Paul was one of only six Senators voting conscience. It only makes sense this would happen in Kentucky, known as the “dark and bloody ground,” where Native Americans came to hunt and make war.
It seems so Neo-Shakespearean that one state, actually a Commonwealth, could breed two such different men – Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, both with such diametrically opposed government philosophies and backgrounds – Mitch a lawyer and Rand a doctor, Mitch a South End turned East End condo city boy and Rand Paul from rural Kentucky (the REAL KENTUCKY in my humble opinion); either of these men could be our President one day. In his official biography, “REPUBLICAN LEADER” (In German, the title would be REPUBLIKAN FUHRER, no shit), Mitch stated he never wanted to be number two at anything.
This man has been underestimated all his life, but at the game of politics, Addison Mitchell McConnell takes no prisoners. He is quoted in REPUBLIKAN FUHRER as saying: “If somebody flicks a pebble at you, hurl a boulder back.”
Politics is a rough game and I knew that going in; living well is the best revenge.
Dr. Rand Paul and his minions – passionate with ideas and fervor, intelligence and compassion – stand in the way of the McConnell juggernaut. And it will be great sport to watch it play out on MSNBC and FOX, not to mention with commentary by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. What a Political War there be a comin’ ... both men Kentuckians. Both strong-willed, with a command of big ideas, big money and battle-tested troops.
As that famous poem concludes: “ ... and in Kentucky, the horses are the fastest, the women are the prettiest ... and the politics, they are the damnedest.”
So the stage is set for the next round ... when we decide whether to cut spending, when we decide whether to extend the national debt trillions of dollars more ... when we sell our souls to China and bankrupt the next generation.
I hope and believe Mitch built up some political capital during this stupid, Congressionally imposed Christmas Holiday crisis. Now that The Great Compromiser has done his thing for the short term, Mitch needs to work with Senator Rand Paul for the long term that is America’s future.
I’ll buy the popcorn ...