Mitch McConnell has done his share of bipartisan deals in the Senate, but almost always on his own terms and almost always after he helped create the crisis that he then takes credit for ending. Now he must keep the peace among potential Republican presidential candidates in the Senate, pacify the tea party wing while showing that the GOP is “ready to govern,” deal with the hapless Republican leadership in the House, and even reach out to President Barack Obama, who has reason to be wary. McConnell has the skill to bridge divides within the GOP in the Senate, and maybe in Congress as a whole. That will be his first challenge. Whether he can speak to the whole country and try to bring Americans together -- and whether he wants to -- will become clear in the months ahead.
Over the years, it has been sickening to watch politicians, coal company hacks and sycophantic journalists defer judgment and split hairs over the connections between massive mountaintop removal operations and public health hazards in the same way black lung disease for coal miners had been denied for decades.