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  • Caitlyn Burge-Surles

McConnell's Latest Lapse Leads Leaders to Condemn Aging Politicians

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) experienced his second freezing spell since late July, this time at a Wednesday Chamber of Commerce event in his home state, leading voices on both sides of the aisle to question the senator’s fitness for office.

In footage of the event, a reporter asks Sen. McConnell “Senator you’re up for election in three short years, what are your thoughts on [it]?” The senator appeared confused and glanced around the room, replying “I’m sorry I had a hard time hearing you.” The reporter repeated the question, upon which the senator chuckled and mumbled “that’s uh” and trailed off in silence.

After several seconds an aide asked Sen. McConnell if he had heard the question. The aide received no response from the senator and announced to the reporters, “All right I’m sorry y’all we’re gonna need a minute.” Another aide approached the senator and spoke quietly to him for several more seconds.

Sen. McConnell appeared to regain his composure and said “okay” to the crowd of reporters before the aide asked for another question, and urged the reports to speak up. The senator again stood silently after the following question, requiring the aide to step in again and repeat the question louder to him.

The lapse mirrors Sen. McConnell’s last episode on July 26 at a D.C. press conference when the senator was asked a question about the defense bill and had to step away to his office for several minutes to recuperate.

These events are allegedly rooted in Sen. McConnell’s July 14 fall at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and his fall in March at a dinner event that left him with a concussion and broken rib. The senator, who is a polio survivor, has been utilizing a wheelchair to help avoid falls in high-traffic locations.

Sen. McConnell’s momentary lapses have resulted in an increasing national conversation about the age of many of America’s leaders, and calls from both sides of the aisle to strongly evaluate whether these leaders are still fit for office.

Stephen Collinson at CNN wrote in the aftermath of the Kentucky event that “given that [President Joe] Biden, McConnell and [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein are public officials, voters are entitled to a high level of transparency.” Collinson notes that recent polls demonstrate how dissatisfied Americans are with the age of the current president, and concludes that aging politicians are too eager to retain power while leaving seats occupied that could belong to younger, more physically fit candidates: “. . . the age of some key leaders does beg the question whether their refusal to ride into the sunset is thwarting the rise of a new generations of politicians or whether younger figures in both parties lack the talent and the drive to push them aside.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, GA) vocalized on Twitter that Sen. McConnell is “not fit for office.” Rep. Greene asserted that “Severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation’s leaders MUST be addressed. Biden, McConnell, Feinstein, and [Sen. John] Fetterman are examples of people who are not fit for office and it’s time to be serious about it.”


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