Donald Trump — the disgraced former president and frustrated insult comic — is using what remains of his political platform and media clout to workshop a nasty new nickname for Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader. Last week Trump trotted out “Old Crow Mitch McConnell.” A little low energy? Trump himself seemed to admit as much when he released statements this week embellishing the epithet to, alternately, “Old Broken Crow, Mitch McConnell,” “old broken-down Crow, Mitch McConnell,” and “you Broken Old Crow.”
The Kentucky senator, of course, has no shortage of monikers. His haters have long observed his likeness to a turtle. While the backstory is now too tortured to unpack, McConnell himself has ironically adopted the pet name, “Cocaine Mitch.” And during the height of concern over Russian meddling in U.S. elections, Democrats got under McConnell’s skin with the mellifluous “Moscow Mitch.”
And Trump giving McConnell the treatment of a “Little Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” or “Crooked Hillary” is actually a sea change for the former allies. Trump and McConnell used to be great together — a dynamic duo pursuing a takeover of a co-equal branch of government.
In a historic collaboration they confirmed more than 200 conservative judges to the federal judiciary — including seating one-third of the Supreme Court. All that court-packing success papered over the pair’s temperamental differences: McConnell being the bloodless Washington dealmaker; Trump being the anti-establishment brawler. The @realdonaldtrump even used to tweet sweet nothings at “our great Kentucky Senator” praising his “Great Leadership!”
But that relationship soured after Trump cheered on the insurgents who would storm the Capitol on Jan 6. Having ridden the Trump tiger for four years, and barely escaped his jaws in the end, McConnell has distanced himself from the GOP’s Dear Leader, and reverted to form as a Chamber of Commerce Republican who cuts deals to benefit his corporate backers. Trump, out of power and de-platformed from social media, has been relegated to shouting from the sidelines and releasing diatribes on his Save America website.
The source of Trump’s current ire is McConnell’s participation in passing the $1.2 trillion Biden infrastructure package, which gave the 46th president a victory lap and, far more importantly, delivered huge federal investments in roads, bridges, and clean water. (Trump infamously failed to deliver on similar bills, despite countless false-start “infrastructure weeks.”)
In his newest, barely English, maniacally capitalized rant, Trump blasts the “incompetence” of “Broken Old Crow, Mitch McConnell” for participating in Biden’s “Green New Deal nonsense” bill. Trump faults McConnell for failing to use the leverage of a potential default on federal government debt to full advantage, instead agreeing to a two-month extension on the debt ceiling that Trump wails “allowed the Democrats to get their act together.” Trump warns that McConnell’s “stupid” error could now help Democrats secure “another and even bigger victory” as they pursue Biden’s Build Back Better package, which the former president seethes may find a few votes from Republican senators.
While denigrating McConnell as “stupid” and a “fool,” Trump implores McConnell to rethink his strategy: “Use the debt ceiling like it should have been used, you Old Broken Crow,” suggesting default on America’s full faith and credit would “hurt our Country far less than this horrible bill.” The angry former president warns the GOP that any elected official voting for Build Back Better “will never get a Trump Endorsement.”
Why is Trump summoning for an “Old Crow” for McConnell’s spirit animal? The truth is there seems to be a hint of admiration in the insult. Crows are wily. They’re smart. They look out for themselves and they survive as circumstances change. It’s a contrast from the bombastic Trump who likes to live in a world of black and white, winners and losers. “That’s what he does,” Trump rails, spitting at the Kentucky senator’s strategy of: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”