OpEd: Champagne in the Kremlin

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I think that my primary reaction to the recent debates between the Democratic candidates for president was one of dumbfoundedness. Are these people really standing there sniping away at each other while the most incompetent and corrupt individual ever to hold the office gleefully gathers fodder for his future tweets? If the beginning of the Democratic Party's campaign to rid the United States of Donald Trump is any indication of what is to come, with clashing egos and clever sound bites prevailing over substantive discourse, we are going to be mired in Trump's trademark chaos for another

four years.

The first thing a proud scion of the Old South like Mitch McConnell said when Barack Obama was elected president was that he was going to see to it that Republicans blocked everything Obama attempted to accomplish. You might recall President Obama's futile attempts to pass some sane gun laws after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. Those laws might have saved the 29 (as of this writing) people who died in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last week. Mitch and company made sure the laws never saw the light of day, opting instead for thoughts and prayers.

Here in Vermont, our governor thinks that very little should stand in the way of someone's impulse to buy a gun.

He vetoed a bill that would require a 24-hour waiting period. One lousy day! I hear a lot about Mr. Scott being a more moderate version of today's typical Republican, but his veto suggests that the contemporary carnage still hasn't prevailed over the frontier ideology with him.

President Obama accomplished a great deal despite the senator from Kentucky's pique at the thought of a black man in the White House (and don't try and tell me it was anything else). Donald Trump has systematically tried to undo all of that progress for, very likely, the same reason.

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Mr. McConnell, the second most dangerous man in the country, has recently come under some heavy fire for blocking bills that would strengthen the nation's election security. Of course, the need for additional protection is somewhat obviated by a politician with Mr. McConnell's fierce loyalty when it is his own party that has benefited so profusely from the foreign interference.

Robert Mueller reiterated his concern about Russian hacking in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee meeting on July 24. "It wasn't a single attempt," Mr. Muller said. "They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign."

A day later, McConnell, who is able to contort his mouth into a perfectly inverted U when he is pontificating, would not even allow the bills to be brought to the floor for a vote, pandering to the phobias of a president who is especially sensitive about Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

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Think about that for a moment. The majority leader of the United States Senate wouldn't allow bills that would bolster the integrity of the most fundamental right and privilege of the American people to be voted upon. One can only imagine Champagne corks popping in the Kremlin.

Mr. Trump goes apoplectic when anyone suggests that Russia interfered in the last election. The president may have been slick enough not to get directly involved, he has had plenty of practice at that, but the Mueller Report makes it very clear that people close to Trump, including the prodigal son, were involved up to their shifty necks.

Remember the right wing fury instigated by the perceived "criminal" carelessness of Hillary Clinton when she used an unsecured server for her emails? Remember the orchestrated outrage, as if she had suggested in a speech that Paul Revere's ride was just a corny myth? Remember the now convicted felon and once Trump buddy, Michael Flynn, leading a chorus of "Lock her up!" at one of the campaign rallies?

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Well, where is all that right wing outrage now, folks? It seems like such a waste because the right is so good at making noise.

Russia, a country that bears more animosity towards the United States than any nation in the world, a country that works tirelessly to undermine and undo everything democracy stands for, had the unmitigated audacity to directly meddle in our election system. Mitch McConnell, terrified of evoking the wrath of a man he probably despises more than most people do, calls a serious effort to deter further interference a partisan stunt.

The Senate majority leader is usually fairly impervious to disparaging nicknames, but Moscow Mitch seems to have wilted the mint in his julep. McConnell fired off a tweet claiming that his critics are resorting to MCarthyesque tactics, referring, of course, to another right-wing Republican congressman who, in service to his own demagoguery, toyed with the ruination of the country.

Elizabeth Warren would be my selection to go up against Trump in a heartbeat, but I thought John Edwards was potential presidential timber, too, and look what happened to him. Can you imagine a debate between Warren and Trump? Even if he trailed behind her on the stage like the shark in "Jaws," the prospect of pitting an educated, accomplished woman against a pampered, vacuous dilettante would almost be worth the risk of Ms. Warren's name on the ballot. Almost, because this is one election that American can't afford to lose.

If Joe Biden has the best chance to rid us of Trump, Democrats en mass should be lining up behind him, not dredging up instances when the former vice president strayed from their conception of the straight and narrow. There is no such thing as straight and narrow in politics and they all know it.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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