Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) froze up again recently when speaking to reporters in Covington, Ky., in late August. He was unresponsive for about 30 seconds, at which point one of his aides asked him if he was OK. He resumed his responses only with the help of an aide, The Hill reported.
He had another freeze-up in July during a press conference at the Capitol. McConnell was seen by a Capitol physician recently who confirmed that he does not have a seizure disorder and did not suffer from a stroke, per The Hill.
“There are no changes recommended in treatment protocols as you continue recovery from your March 2023 fall,” Brian Monahan, the Capitol physician, wrote in a letter to McConnell.
Why it matters: McConnell’s episodes have raised questions about whether the senate minority leader is fit to serve. Most Senate Republicans back him saying that he is in good health.
“We may expect that Mitch McConnell will check out for 20 seconds a day. But the other 86,380 seconds in the day, he does a pretty darn good job,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, noted, ABC News reported. “I’m firmly behind his remaining as our leader.”
McConnell has left room for doubt by not addressing the matter head-on. Despite his doctor’s word, the recurring freeze-ups have left many murmuring about term limits, as well as limitations around age and health — even for other legislators of similar age. President Joe Biden was also caught in the fray.
“The time has come for the Kentucky senator, after his long, impressive run, to make the decision to step aside from leadership,” the editorial read.
Opinions aside, McConnell needs to speak to his stakeholders and constituents and let them know how he’s really doing and perhaps speak to broader issues such as ageism, the limitations of age and health, and term limits. His doctors’ note, so to speak, does little to repair one’s image after two very public health issues. Letting people know what’s going on is critical as a public figure to maintain transparency and accountability. The longest-serving Senate leader and his aides need to address misconceptions about his health or rumors about him withholding something from the public instead of leaving the public to wonder.
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Sherri Kolade is a writer at Ragan Communications. When she is not with her family, she enjoys watching Alfred Hitchcock-style films, reading and building an authentically curated life that includes more than occasionally finding something deliciously fried. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.