Speed Reads

The McConnaisance

How Mitch McConnell uses his 'blankness' to get things done

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is bland, and everyone knows it. But sometimes, McConnell's "blankness" — "like a spy or a pinto bean" — works out in his favor, Charles Homans writes for The New York Times Magazine.

As the chamber's longest-running GOP leader, McConnell has stuck to tradition and learned that running the Senate is about scheduling — or delaying — votes and deliberations. In fact, he calls his "decision not to fill" a Supreme Court vacancy right after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia "the most consequential thing I've ever done," per the Times Magazine. And as former GOP Sen. Slade Gorton puts it, McConnell is "just — there. He's just a fact of life."

At the other end of the spectrum is President Trump. In fact, "it would be hard to find two people by personality, or any inclination, that are more diametrically opposed" than Trump and McConnell, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) tells the Times Magazine. "It is... a safe inference that he knows he is dealing with a child," former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) says of McConnell's interactions with Trump, and yet he's never heard McConnell say a bad word about the president, Ryan adds.

Fellow Republicans — whom McConnell told Homans to interview for his profile — remember McConnell as a policy genius. But retired Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says McConnell "has ruined the Senate," he told the Times Magazine. It's a harsh insult, but one that comes years after McConnell said his "friend" Reid was "going to be remembered as the worst leader here ever." Read more at The New York Times Magazine.