Column, 291 words

Which Mitch Do You Believe?

The GOP's cynical hypocrisy either makes you want to either throw up or fall down laughing.

Jim Hightower

As Lily Tomlin has said, “No matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.”

She could’ve been referring to Sen. Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans in Congress, whose cynical hypocrisy either makes you want to either throw up or fall down laughing. McConnell recently announced that the entire GOP delegation was (big surprise) dead set against the Wall Street reform proposal put forth by Senate Democrats. It’s too weak, declared the multimillionaire peer of America’s corporate establishment, ludicrously striking a populist pose as the public’s defender against more handouts to greedy Wall Streeters.

Unfortunately for Pitchfork Mitch, word quickly leaked that he had been schmoozing and plotting with the very greed-heads he supposedly was opposing. Just four days before his grandstanding announcement, Mitch quietly held a private tête-à-tête with a couple dozen hedge-fund honchos and other banking big shots. The purpose of his discreet meet-and-greet with Wall Street powers was twofold. One, McConnell assured them that Republicans would work to kill the tighter regulations that big banks oppose. And, two, he pointed out that since the GOP is Wall Street’s best hope for killing reform, bankers should shower the party with campaign funds to help elect more soft-on-Wall-Street Republicans.

Just to make clear that this was a two-way scratch-my-back deal, McConnell brought along John Cornyn, the banker-hugging senator from Texas who just happens to be head of the Senate Republican fundraising arm. In fact, Cornyn has been making regular trips to Wall Street in recent weeks seeking its support.

So let’s review: Mitch-the-the-prairie-populist is publicly pretending to be fighting Wall Street, while Mitch-the-bankers’-buddy is privately shaking them down for campaign cash in exchange for being on their team. Who could be cynical about that?

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.