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Opinion Give me one good reason I shouldn’t believe Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 3. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has raised the possibility of a nationwide abortion ban if his Republicans gain control of government, but he promises that — pinky swear! — “I will never support smashing the legislative filibuster on this issue or any other.”

And I totally believe him! I’ve always believed Mitch McConnell.

I believed the Kentucky Republican when he said in 2016 that an election-year Supreme Court vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president” — before he filled a Supreme Court vacancy eight days before the 2020 presidential election.

I believed him when he excoriated Democrats in 2013 for “breaking the rules” and using the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for lower-court nominees — before he broke the rules and used the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017.

I believed him when he said President Donald Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection — before voting to acquit Trump and declaring he would support him if he’s the Republican nominee in 2024.

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I believed him the day after the 2016 election when he said “the election is over, we know who won” and “the American people understand that if you get 270 electoral votes, you’re president” — before refusing for weeks in 2020 to recognize President-elect Joe Biden and defending Trump’s right “to look into allegations of irregularities.”

I believed McConnell even when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) declared on the Senate floor in 2015 that McConnell was a liar and “that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment … he is willing to say things that he knows are false.”

I believed him last year when he told the White House that Democrats would have to raise the debt ceiling without any help from Republicans — before he helped Democrats raise the debt ceiling.

I believed McConnell in 2019 when he said he would work with his Democratic counterpart on an impeachment process — before announcing that “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”

I believed McConnell when he was an outspoken champion of corporate free speech — before he scolded corporations for their “quite stupid” protest of Georgia’s voter-suppression law.

I believed McConnell’s years of statements in support of disclosing the identities of political contributors — before he used a filibuster in 2010 to block legislation requiring such disclosure.

I believed McConnell in 2009, when he threw his backing behind a proposal for a bipartisan debt commission to get federal spending under control, calling it “our best hope” and urging the Obama administration to get on board — before using a filibuster to block the proposal after the Obama administration supported it.

I believed McConnell in 2006 when he embraced comprehensive immigration reform, a key priority of President George W. Bush — before McConnell opposed just such a proposal when it got to the Senate floor in 2007.

I believed McConnell in 2014 when he insisted, “make no mistake,” that the Senate would take action on President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action — before he failed to bring the Senate to act on the matter.

I believed McConnell long ago when he pledged to support collective bargaining for public-sector unions — before he called such a pledge “open pandering” and dropped it, as Alec MacGillis recounts in his book “The Cynic.”

I believed McConnell when, as MacGillis also recounts, McConnell took a “feminist perspective” on Roe v. Wade and blocked ordinances that ran counter to abortion rights — before packing the courts with abortion opponents and floating a nationwide abortion ban.

I believed McConnell when he vigorously supported the Iraq War in public, while urging Bush in private to withdraw some troops.

I believed McConnell when he called money in politics a “cancer” and argued for campaign spending limits — before devoting his career to opposing such limits.

I believed McConnell when he took positions on earmarks, minimum wage increases and banning flag burning — both when he was for them and against them.

I believed McConnell when he said in 2019 that background checks would be “front and center” in Senate talks on gun legislation, when he said in 2016 that he would put renewable energy tax credits in an aviation bill, when he reached an agreement with his Democratic counterpart on nominees to the Federal Communications Commission, and when he repeatedly vowed to open up the Senate amendment process.

None of these things came to pass, either. But believe me: I still believe Mitch McConnell.