Reprinted with permission from Alternet
“Moscow Mitch” is the derogatory name that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and other critics of President Donald Trump have used in reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Scarborough has repeatedly argued that by blocking election security bills, McConnell is, in effect, helping the Russian government interfere in U.S. elections — an assertion that McConnell obviously resents deeply.
“It’s an effort to smear me,” McConnell told Hewitt. “You know, I can laugh about things like the Grim Reaper, but calling me Moscow Mitch is over the top.”
The Grim Reaper is a name that McConnell himself has embraced, bragging that when bills he doesn’t like are passed by the Democrat-controlled House and make their way to the Senate, he is more than happy to kill them. But while the Senate majority leader considers it a badge of honor to be called the Grim Reaper, he sees nothing funny about being called Moscow Mitch.
But he earned the moniker for a reason. In addition to repeatedly blocking attempts to secure the U.S. elections from interference by Russia and other foreign actors, he also worked to lift sanctions on Russian companies working on a major project in his home state. McConnell’s own ex-staffers even worked as lobbyists for the project.
McConnell told Hewitt that being called Moscow Mitch is “unbelievable for a Cold Warrior like me who spent a career standing up to the Russians.”
“Calling me Moscow Mitch is over the top,” McConnell tells Hugh Hewitt
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 3, 2019
The Senate majority leader reiterated his claim that the “Moscow Mitch” insult is “modern-day McCarthyism.” And he told Hewitt, “This is what we’re up against with the hard left today in America.”
By “hard left,” McConnell might have been referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi —who is perhaps the most prominent Democrat to have called him “Moscow Mitch.” But the name isn’t limited to Democrats by any means: one of the main reasons the name has caught on is because of Scarborough, a former Republican congressman and Never Trump conservative who has called him “Moscow Mitch” countless times on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
By complaining about being called Moscow Mitch on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” McConnell only encouraged people to use the insult some more. Tuesday morning on Twitter, Josh Marshall (publisher of Talking Points Memo) taunted the Senate majority leader by calling him Moscow Mitch four times in a single tweet:
He's right. We need to have a serious discussion about whether to call #MoscowMitch #Moscowmitch especially because #MoscowMitch doesn't seem to like being called #MoscowMitch at all. https://t.co/IdBlXe9FrE
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 3, 2019
Joan McCarter, responding to McConnell’s complaints in the Daily Kos on Tuesday, stressed that there is a “simple solution” if he doesn’t like being called Moscow Mitch: “put election protection legislation on the floor of the Senate and allow an up-or-down vote for it.”