Mitch McConnell’s April Fools’ Joke

In some expert trolling, the Senate Majority Leader decries "mindless, undiscriminating obstruction for the sake of obstruction."

I generally hate it when grown-ups take part in the annual tradition of pulling pranks. But, sometimes, you have to acknowledge genuine artistic genius. This is one of those instances.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, POLITICO, April 01, 2019 (“Time to Stop the Democrats’ Obstruction: Enough with the partisan delays. The president’s nominees deserve consideration.“):

It took six months of partisan delays — and several railroad accidents — before Democrats let the Senate confirm a federal railroad administrator, even though none of them actually voted against the nominee in the end.

It’s been 354 days and counting in Senate purgatory for the president’s nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two-hundred eighty-seven days and counting for the under secretary of state for management. Noncontroversial lower court nominees have languished for weeks and weeks — for no discernible reason — before they, too, were confirmed unanimously. These are just a few examples of the historic obstruction Senate Democrats have visited upon President Trump’s nominees for two years and counting.

Since January 2017, for the first time in memory, a minority has exploited procedure to systematically obstruct a president from staffing up his administration. This new, across-the-board obstruction is unfair to the president and, more importantly, to the American people. Left unchecked, it is guaranteed to create an unsustainable precedent that would see every future presidency of either party obstructed in the same mindless way.

The Senate needs to restore normalcy. And this week, we will vote to do just that.

Every presidential election since John Adams beat Thomas Jefferson in 1796 has undoubtedly left some senators disappointed. But never before has the unhappy side then built a systematic effort to keep the new president’s administration unstaffed.

We aren’t talking about limited opposition to a few high-profile nominees or unusual circumstances. It’s mindless, undiscriminating obstruction for the sake of obstruction. Even uncontroversial lower-level nominees whom literally no senators oppose are not spared.


The all-encompassing, systematic nature of this obstruction is not part of the Senate’s important tradition of minority rights. It is a new departure from that tradition. And this break with tradition is hurting the Senate, hamstringing our duly elected president, and denying citizens the government they elected.

Moreover, if we let this partisan paralysis continue, it will define a new norm for the future. It’s hard to imagine any future presidency of either party would be spared.

We can’t accept this. We need to stop this bizarre, new practice. We need to rebuild a nominations process that resembles the way things worked for more than two centuries.


In January 2013, as President Obama began his second term, I and many other Senate Republicans joined with Democrats to enact bipartisan reform of our nominations rules.

Republicans certainly weren’t thrilled with the election result. But instead of throwing a systematic tantrum, we acknowledged that the president should be able to build a government at a reasonable pace.


Give me a break. A rules change is either a good idea or it isn’t. The answer cannot depend on whether you like the current occupant of the White House. Simple fairness dictates that there cannot be protections in place for Democratic administrations past and future that magically skip over Republican presidents. And this is especially true under the current extraordinary circumstances Senate Democrats have created.

The status quo is unfair, unhealthy, and unsustainable. This president and all future presidents deserve a more functional process for building their administrations.

Well done, Sir. Well. Done.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Humor, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder if Merrick Garland found this funny…meanwhile, let’s see if McConnell laughs when the Democrats pack the court(s)…I doubt that he will be amused…

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Think there’s a single FOX News viewer who will see the humor in this? They’ll all be going, ‘About time, Mitch!’

  3. Jax says:

    Are we sure he’s joking? I’ve never imagined McConnell to have a sense of humor.

  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Well I’m taking his complaint at face value, but now I have a question: has the good Senator had some sort of traumatic head injury that wiped out his memory of 2009-2016?

  5. Gustopher says:

    I assume this is an effort to generate outrage on the left, so he can show the Republican base that he’s delivering on pissing off liberals. This is about avoiding a primary challenge on the right.

    I wish Obama would show up wherever he is, next time he’s in front of cameras, give him a big hug and call him “my friend Mitch”. Maybe go full Biden and smell his hair, but that might be over the top.

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    @An Interested Party: Packing courts violates the commandments of the goddess Norm, to whom centrists Democrats swear fealty upon making their school’s Dean’s list.