Caitlin Johnstone: Mitch McConnell’s Flash of Humanity

Perhaps one day this will happen to the entire empire — the whole thing suddenly vanishing for the lie it always was; its managers left blinking stupidly in the sunlight, their word-magic gone.

McConnell in 1992. (Laura Patterson, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

By Caitlin Johnstone
Caitlin’s Newsletter 

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article. 

Mitch McConnell froze up in public again, the second such incident in the last few weeks.

The U.S. Senate minority leader just stood there silently — a gentle, childlike smile flickering across his face, probably for the first time since the Truman administration.

In that moment, while McConnell’s dying brain struggled and failed to make sense of its present reality, all the dourness was gone from his face. All the downward gravitational pull from a lifetime in the D.C. swamp. All the seriousness. All the scheming. All the warmongering, tyranny and abusiveness.

In that moment of amnesiac innocence, you’d never be able to tell from looking at Mitch McConnell how many people he’s helped kill. How much suffering he’s helped cause. How much health and thriving he’s frozen out of humanity in his joyless facilitation of corporate dystopia.

All you’d see is a man. A cute, harmless, befuddled old man. All the dark, dense, contracted energy gone from his form in a sweet tender moment of intimate indivisibility.

Capitol Hill is where warmongers and principles go to die. It’s an assisted living facility for psychopaths — a nursing home where people who get gratification from dropping military explosives on foreigners go to wait for their decomposition. The whole place smells like night terrors and urine.

Capitol Hill is a gerontocratic command center where miserable octogenarians in wheelchairs and adult diapers keep pulling the levers of ecocide and nuclear brinkmanship like retirees at a Vegas slot machine as a final insult to younger generations who are still capable of enjoying life on this planet.

It’s where they warehouse souls too atrophied and mummified to take a stand against the empire in order to give Americans the illusion of living in a democracy.

U.S. President Joe Biden called McConnell his good friend, and of course they are good friends; they are the same kind of monster. The same variety of spent, half-dead Beltway flotsam made of corporate logos and plastic donor class dinner parties held together by nothing but Aricept and wood glue who’ve been pushing war, militarism, austerity and authoritarianism since the instant they were able to claw their way into elected office.

This is the hub of the global empire. This is what it looks like. Corrupt. Decrepit. Blood-spattered. And then Hollywood perception managers come in and dress it up as something pretty.

But it all faded away in that one moment of neurological misfire. Not even a distant memory as colors, sounds and feelings swirled ineffably in McConnell’s bewildered mind.

Perhaps one day this will happen to the entire empire. The whole thing suddenly vanishing for the lie it always was, all its managers left blinking stupidly in the sunlight, reaching for tools that aren’t there anymore and word magic that no longer has any power.

Perhaps one day all the illusions will disappear like the network of conceptual constructs in Mitch McConnell’s head. Perhaps one day the empire will call upon its servants and no one will answer, and it will be left there anxiously repeating the call, like an actor trapped onstage repeating a line from the script, awaiting a fellow cast member who missed their cue.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from Caitlin’s Newsletter and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

43 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Mitch McConnell’s Flash of Humanity

  1. jamie
    September 3, 2023 at 15:21

    Perhaps, silence is best thing he had ever came up with in all his career; when the cognitive defenses have been disabled the true self emerges? Words are often overrated, they confuse rather than explain, and often, recently, they are discordant notes, musical instruments out of tune trying to play an epic triumphant fanfare; words have sure lost the value they used to have, and perhaps it’s not a bad thing.
    Our culture had elevated speech and appearance over action, genuineness, empathy and respect; what one says is way or important that one does, and that’s just absurd as the world we are living in.

  2. JM
    September 3, 2023 at 06:59

    What an article! Dark, cynical, comical and revealing. Loved it.

  3. September 3, 2023 at 01:50

    This woman brandishes her righteous pen with ‘smash mouth’ ferocity.

    Thank you!

  4. Arch Stanton
    September 2, 2023 at 19:26

    Brilliant piece Caitlin ???

  5. LeoSun
    September 2, 2023 at 13:35

    Caitlin calls it, “$howtime!!!” Ready. Set. “Frozen!” in 3-D, Deception. Destruction. Death. “Love your country. Do NOT trust its government.”

    “Actually this isn’t a new problem! Octogenarians have long had an “iron grip” on Washington DC. I vividly recall having lunch with my dad, Senator John McCain, in the $enate dining room, and seeing $enator Strom Thurmond, then in his 90s, wheeled to his table, and a caregiver proceeding to put his napkin on him and help feed him!!!” Meghan McCain.

    $enator Thurmond died five months, after leaving office, “when he was 100 years old!!!” $enator Robert Byrd-W.VA., served until age 92! By the end, Byrd was VOTING w/HAND Signals. 

    September, 2023, America’s “GOT” the OLDEST, aging miserably, $enate in American history!!! The oldigarchy’s average age is 64. Mitch McConnell-80, Chuck Grassley-88; Nancy Pelosi, 82, Feinstein, 89, Shelby-89, Schumer, Durbin, Whitehouse, Nadler, F/Joey R. Biden. The oldigarchy “hasn’t had a new idea in decades;” AND, their mental instability, is off the f/chart!!!

    The Gerontocracy has sucked the life outta democracy. POTUS’ knowledge, memories, opinions, physical unfitness, is all knotted together. POTUS’ got their thumb on the WH’s blender; on high f/speed, “manufacturing fascism masquerading it as “democracy.”

    “A Board of Directors would find a way to remove a dementia addled, truth challenged, perverted CEO;” BUT, in the Divided $tates of Corporate America’s $enate, that’s NOT gonna happen! There is No Age cap! Common Democrats & Republicans, wholeheartedly, $upport the perverted, aging miserably, full of piss, gas & vinegar political corpses! “You can’t win w/a losing hand.”

    And, their perverted $taff, oughta be fired! for colluding, secretly, to keep secret the malfunctioning, dysfunctional, incontinent POTUS & Congress who are unwilling to go to rehab!!! AND, the political corpse, Biden-Harris, posing as POTUS, masquerading as human, “For gawd’s sake, man! This man & woman cannot remain in power!!!”

    The “ask,” of Anita Dunn-65, “take ‘em to the REHABoth compound! The Big Guy,” PUTIN “pegged as an unreconstructed warmonger and longtime advocate of NATO expansion, someone who’d act on his madness;” well, for the War Chiefs, it must be deeply frustrating, the EXTREME mental & physical decline of Biden-Harris.

    Everybody, knows, it was just a matter of time, Biden-Harris were gonna CRASH, face first, harder than when Joey crashes, 3 times plus, hard, going up AF1. Biden-Harris are marinated in hypocrisy, shufflin’ & countin’ $heep, again!!! Put ‘Em to bed. “It’s hard to wake someone who’s sleeping.”

    “Facts have proved more than once that the U.S. is the direct threat to the international order and the culprit of the regional turbulence.” Chinese Defense Ministry. “He who ties the bell around the tiger; Needs to untie it.” MARCH, 2022

    • Taras 77
      September 3, 2023 at 12:24

      I would add to your description as Obama-biden-harris.

      It is becoming more clear, if it ever was not clear, that obama is running the white house and the government from his residence in wash dc where he conducts meetings with the biden cabinet/bureaucracy.

  6. Taras 77
    September 2, 2023 at 11:37

    A beautifully crafted yet scathing article which describes the rot and festering open wound that is the us political “system” (if one can call it that)! Thank you, Caitlin!

  7. John Zeigler
    September 2, 2023 at 07:50

    A long time ago in seminary, I and my classmates were warned by a wise professor to avoid believing our own shit. Caitlin, you have once again revealed the shit factory inside the Beltway. Bravo!

  8. Dee Drake
    September 2, 2023 at 07:45

    Gotta love Caitlin’s way with words!

  9. Andrew Nichols
    September 2, 2023 at 04:41

    Someone needs to show this to the dimwit Australians to show them what they have signed up to.

  10. Sudesh Prasad
    September 2, 2023 at 02:40

    Caitlin at her razor-sharp, truth-telling best.

  11. Rafi Simonton
    September 1, 2023 at 23:34

    Old Power v. Elder Wisdom

    There is a reason traditional cultures respect and value their elders. We’re the product of long experience with deep roots in a specific environment who listened to our own elders. These philosophical systems, along with shamanism, would not have lasted for thousands of years if they didn’t work.

    The western Enlightenment resulted in empirical science, the ideal of political rights, and so-called free markets. But at the cost of meaning for human life and of absolute values. It’s understandable why then the diminishment of science as service to corporations, the rootlessness of Empire, and distraction from ennui by means of accumulating goods which aren’t good. The ultimate status of power over; no constraints and no purpose other than more and more.

    Anyone who has put in the years of effort and training to become an expert at something has a type of power through knowledge. An artist, a plumber, a nurse, a professor of comparative religion. The best among them develop the wisdom to know where and when to apply their skills as well as the wisdom to acknowledge when they don’t know.

    In contrast, the power mad and the econ determinists who see natural and human resources only as abstract things to be exploited. They never admit any weakness (including compassion) lest some rival take advantage. Thus a perpetually escalating arms race. I have a political button I’ve had since the ’60s: “Lemmings are silly; dinosaurs are extinct.” Repeating this same old sick behavior, so obvious in Mitch and Joe, is not the wisdom we need for a healthy Earth.

  12. Gerry L Forbes
    September 1, 2023 at 23:14

    That which is decadent is that which has crawled up its own asshole, and died.

  13. robert e williamson jr
    September 1, 2023 at 23:00

    Great stuff, Caitlin! I could not resist commenting on Otto’s take on reality.

  14. gcw919
    September 1, 2023 at 18:37

    Bravo. A marvelous piece, with rapier-like piercing of the fraudulent mess that our country has become. And, a compelling case for term limits, and not necessarily age-related.

    • Rafi Simonton
      September 1, 2023 at 23:40

      Conservatives love term limits; they know who sponsors the replacements. And that corporate lobbyists would be the only ones around with sufficient experience to understand legislative systems. We already have term limits–they’re called elections.

  15. Deniz
    September 1, 2023 at 18:21

    McConnell finally gives the world hope.

  16. Sarah Davidson
    September 1, 2023 at 17:58

    A fine piece of writing, all true, and expressed with powerful imagery that goes to your heart, guts and brain. What a sad travesty is that which passes for government in the US. I am reminded of my young niece; I asked her was she worried about the future and she said with that wonderful spirit of youth, “nah, as soon as those old men go and die we’ll fix it all”

  17. bardamu
    September 1, 2023 at 17:17

    These men and women purged the ranks of those who would replace them. They cannot leave office in large numbers for fear of prosecution. As the small competences that they once had fail, the lengths that their organizations go to to retain office become more desperate, more shrill, more damaging.

    As strange as it is to conceive it, a day existed before these people were corrupted. Maybe something like this is the reason that death comes to complex organisms, and along a sort of schedule. There are people whose wisdom we might wish we could preserve, but so often, it seems, humans just need too badly some way to tap out.

  18. Me Myself
    September 1, 2023 at 16:43

    Caitlin, We need some music like in the Titanic movie, as we watch politicians crack this country in half and allow it to sink to the depths of their malevolence.

  19. JonT
    September 1, 2023 at 15:46

    Ok, Caitlin. Stop sitting on the fence and tell us what you really think about McConnell et al!

  20. September 1, 2023 at 15:41

    Bravo, good work

  21. maxine chiu
    September 1, 2023 at 15:32

    He’s dim-witted and senile, but not necessarily because he’s old….There are huge numbers of young and middle-aged politicians out there who are equally dangerous.

  22. Commander McBragg
    September 1, 2023 at 15:25

    Not to worry- there’s always a new crop of useless wastrel children of Noble lineages (did you know W Bush is related obliquely to the British nobility?) eager to perpetuate the Theory and Practice of Hell.

  23. David Verrall
    September 1, 2023 at 15:22

    Marvellous venom laced with contemptuous humour.

  24. September 1, 2023 at 15:08

    Brilliant, brilliant, essay, Caitlin!

    Absolutely true.

  25. shmutzoid
    September 1, 2023 at 13:18

    Brava Caitlin! ….an elegiac meditation on McConnell/humanity/empire. For the sake of global stability, I hope the fall of the US/Western empire will fall as quickly as is Mitch’s neurological condition. ——— Much of the world has finally seen the mask off of US imperialism more than ever. The desperation behind US sanctioning so much and many in the world, along with the ongoing imperial wars has given impetus to emerging global multi-polarity. BRICS, BRI, SCO and other institutions/banks are facilitating this next epoch in world economy/relations. ——– The US acts in NO other way than to THWART this inevitability.

    it is time for Mitch to sit down, call it a day, and live out your life as a human being. —–it is PAST time for the US empire to come to an end and to begin behaving like a normal country. Full Spectrum Dominance. Let it be the final stain/epitaph for a murderous reign of terror that hid behind the phony images of civility/democracy far too long.

  26. Vera Gottlieb
    September 1, 2023 at 11:59

    Put ALL the old geezers out to pasture. Same, old same is getting more than tiresome.

    • Valerie
      September 1, 2023 at 13:50

      Tiresome? It’s ouright dangerous. These senile demented “politicians” are a threat to society.

  27. Charles E. Carroll
    September 1, 2023 at 11:23

    Sad but so true! Thank you.

  28. Rachel Brown
    September 1, 2023 at 11:17

    You sound like you really enjoyed writing that. I certainly enjoyed reading it. Good on you Caitlin, always love the position you take, your clarity and your light touch.

  29. vinnieoh
    September 1, 2023 at 11:00

    WOW! Holy sheeit! The way you started out Caitlin I thought you were being entirely too gracious and humane, but you were really just winding up your haymaker.

    “Perhaps one day this will happen to the entire empire.” A case might be made that it already has.

  30. Stierlitz
    September 1, 2023 at 10:22

    It is interesting that the US is going down the road of the USSR. We even have a single political party called the “Wall Street” party with two wings, a democrat and a republican one. To think that the leaders of Russia and China must steer the world to survival is the greatest irony of all.

    • Em
      September 2, 2023 at 10:40

      Russia and China, the irony?

      When the “two wings” of the duopoly are eventually trimmed, the entire global ‘body politic’ will begin to breathe freely, and really soar, independently, no longer blindly programmable, but once, for all, inclusively, as a truly cooperating self-guiding missile of hope, into the far future; no longer constantly cajoled and threatened by the ‘exceptionally’ failing rogue state ‘boogeyman’!

  31. Susan Leslie
    September 1, 2023 at 10:19

    Oh Caitlin – you hit the bullseye with this piece!

  32. September 1, 2023 at 10:15

    Caitlin, your hate really comes through. Maybe we should look more at the media as a source of the divide our Country is suffering these days.

    • robert e williamson jr
      September 1, 2023 at 17:54

      Seriously. Otto!

      I can handle your “hate” comment, after all everyone is entitled to their own opinions. My assumption here is that your view of an accurate observation by Caitlin is she speaks out of that emotion, not facts Your opinion is duly noted.

      “Maybe We should look more at the media as a source of the divide our Country is suffering these days.”

      But I have to ask, do you have a mouse in your pocket? Just exactly who is this “we” you are speaking of?

      Your statement seems to very conveniently gloss over the fact that the MSM is exactly the source of much of the division you speak of. Your backhanded insulting criticism instead reveals your support for a man who is way past his prime, who, when frozen, seems to have look on his face of a twelve year old caught in the act of some petty cookie theft. For the record, Biden is little 0r no better in that regard.

      I have been watching for years and I get it, you appear to me to be lost here, the commercial main stream (?) media is definitely the culprit here.

      Otto you might want to take a poll or do some other research into the commercial media, the MSM, which has been actively engaged the behavior of reporting divisional opinions instead of real news now for sixty or so years at least. Lying and backing government lies about everything from JFK, Vietnam, Iraq, 911 and the Ukraine.

      Get over it!

      The truth is Otto independent media, especially that of investigative journalists, generally speaks truth to power. Many times the reports are not pleasant, they do not consist of what individuals would rather hear, the truth works that way.

      Denial of reality is a corrosive cancer that has consumed the minds of millions of “exceptional” Americans, individuals who deeply desire to not be brought out of their self induced stupors, stupors which allow them to cling to a faux sense of comfort and security.

      I can explain it to you, however I cannot understand it for you.

    • David Otness
      September 2, 2023 at 06:46

      Well, Mr Otto, it seems to me you are not able, or choose to not distinguish between a righteous loathing of a man and his political class who have serially robbed U.S. citizens and innocent citizens of the world of a worthy present, and while bequeathing to most of us with their power’s legacy a clouded and dubious future. Expressing disgust for wrongdoing in a direct, no bullshit way speaks not only directly to the matter at hand, but as truth to power. Something many of us are trying to do while avoiding the decades-long moral equivocations and character stains of actors like McConnell. Caitlin speaks for many, and she speaks it well. Hers is a much needed voice for these times.

  33. Rob Roy
    September 1, 2023 at 10:15

    Yes, Caitlin is in a class by herself.

  34. Bill Todd
    September 1, 2023 at 10:14

    Even though there are plenty of real monsters without whom the world would unquestionably be much better off, our own humanity requires that we remember that eliminating their poison rather than their entire existence would accomplish the same goal – otherwise we start looking – and feeling – too much like them.

    Thanks, Caitlin.

  35. Richard Romano
    September 1, 2023 at 09:52

    As always brilliant and excellent.

  36. Sick and tired
    September 1, 2023 at 09:10


  37. September 1, 2023 at 08:46


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