Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is triggering some Democrats for his position on reparations – and for noting that former President Barack Obama held the same view.
The Kentucky Republican was asked Tuesday about an extensive NBC News report digging into his ancestry that determined McConnell’s great-great grandfathers owned 14 slaves.
“Were you aware that your great, great grandfathers were slave owners in Alabama before the Civil War, and has that revelation caused you to change your position on reparations?” McConnell was asked during a Senate leadership press conference on Tuesday.
“You know I find myself once again in the same position as President Obama,” he replied. “We both oppose reparations, and we both are the descendants of slave owners.”
According to the NBC News report, McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers “James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama — all but two of them female, according to the county ‘Slave Schedules’ in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.”
The GOP leader’s remarks set off Sen. Cory Booker’s Iowa press communications director, who called him out as a “piece of s–t” for having the same view as Obama.
“[T]his man is, truly, a piece of s–t,” Tess Seger tweeted.
this man is, truly, a piece of shit
— Tess Seger (@tess_seger) July 9, 2019
Meanwhile, Booker was left at a loss for words after McConnell’s comments.
“Dear God, there’s…this has been a couple of years of my life for Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump where things come out of their mouths where sometimes I have to just sometimes…you know, have to take a step back for a second and gather myself,” the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful told CNN, arguing that McConnell had no “understanding” of racial issues.
McConnell was asked about reparations last month, ahead of a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” he said. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”
“I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that, and I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it,” he added. “First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. We’ve had waves of immigrants as well who have come to the country and experienced dramatic discrimination of one kind or another.”
Obama was opposed to reparations as well, responding to an NAACP questionnaire during the 2008 presidential campaign: “The legacy and stain of slavery are immeasurable; nothing, including reparations, can fully compensate,” also noting that he “would prefer to focus on the issues that will directly address these problems.”
In an interview with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2016, Obama elaborated on his opposition to reparations.
“Theoretically, you can make, obviously, a powerful argument that centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination are the primary cause for all those gaps. That those were wrongs done to the black community as a whole, and black families specifically, and that in order to close that gap, a society has a moral obligation to make a large, aggressive investment, even if it’s not in the form of individual reparations checks, but in the form of a Marshall Plan, in order to close those gaps,” Obama said.
“It is easy to make that theoretical argument. But as a practical matter, it is hard to think of any society in human history in which a majority population has said that as a consequence of historic wrongs, we are now going to take a big chunk of the nation’s resources over a long period of time to make that right,” he added.
McConnell’s simple statement of facts, that he and Obama share the same opposition to reparations and both are descended from slave-holders, sent the left into a predictable meltdown.
Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker called the comparison “obscene” during an MSNBC interview.
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) July 9, 2019
MSNBC’s Joy Reid accused McConnell of “hiding” behind Obama.
There’s something particularly cowardly and galling about @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell hiding behind President Obama, a man he pretended had no right to wield presidential power for eight years. https://t.co/o1CyqOP2Lh
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 9, 2019
Plenty of other pearl-clutching liberals weighed in as well.
.@senatemajldr you don’t get to
Try to make @BarackObama a 1 term POTUS
Block 76 of his judicial nominees (67 blocked in total b4 him)
Deny him the right to appoint a SCOTUS justice
Obstruct all legislation
Then invoke his name to justify racist opposition to reparations
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) July 9, 2019
Racist Mitch McConnell attacked Barack Obama for 8 years, spreading vicious lies and rumors about the 44th POTUS.
NOW he is actually attempting to draw parallels to himself and Obama. Time for Turtle to catch an ocean current and float back out to sea for the rest of his life.
— James Kosur (@JamesKosur) July 9, 2019
The Federalist’s Jesse Kelly put the hysteria into perspective.
Just when you think journalism is dead, the oldest major news network in the country dedicated resources to digging through Mitch McConnell’s great grandfather’s life.
Those Obama college transcripts however remain at large. https://t.co/Oq9x0yj032
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) July 9, 2019
If anyone has any information on what Mitch McConnell’s ancestors were doing during the Fall of Babylon in 539 BC, please send me and NBC a message. Time to get to the bottom of this.
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) July 9, 2019
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