There’s something about Mitch. Maybe it’s the protruberant, pink-rimmed eyes. Or the phlegmatic drawl. Or the vaguely dyspeptic demeanor. Hard to say, really. But something about the Senate majority leader manages not to drive certain people wild.
Or, to be more precise, there is something about Mitch McConnell that, through all the internal GOP fights and melodrama of the past year-plus, has enabled him to avoid becoming a target of the infamously cantankerous President Donald Trump. This despite McConnell’s having declined to pucker up for Trump during the election. And McConnell’s open criticism of Trump’s Twitter tantrums. And McConnell’s repeatedly rebuffing Trump’s griping about how the Senate does business.
Just this week, in fact, the president tweeted his enthusiasm for nuking the legislative filibuster. McConnell’s swift response (I’m paraphrasing here): Fat chance, buddy.
McConnell’s gift for managing the high-strung Trump has become a source of amusement and wonder around Washington—particularly in contrast with Speaker Paul Ryan’s perilous tango with the president. Even when Trump and Ryan are playing nicely, everyone knows the situation is fraught and could turn ugly at any moment. When the House vote on the American Health Care Act imploded in March, Trump was said to be privately fuming at Ryan. Not so privately, the president coyly urged his Twitter followers to tune in to a Fox News show one night when the host began her broadcast by calling on Ryan to resign. (White House chief of staff Reince Priebus insisted the timing was “coincidental.”)