[guest post by Dana]
Yet another painful freeze-up from Mitch McConnell. This comes after a similar event last month, and before that, two falls, and one that left him with cracked ribs and a concussion:
BREAKING NEWS: Sen. Mitch McConnell appearing to have another scary episode in the media gaggle in Covington today. Aides had to step in to help him out and repeat questions. He was eventually lead away. We'll have the full video on @WLWT pic.twitter.com/q9ex5MHxLV
— Hannah Thomas (@HannahPThomas) August 30, 2023
Clearly, there is something seriously wrong here. McConnell, who is 81 years, is among a handful of aged politicians whose mishaps have become an issue of concern:
90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) appeared confused and had to be coached to vote “aye” during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the $831 billion Defense Appropriations bill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ((R-Ky.) suddenly appearing to freeze in mid-sentence during a weekly GOP leadership news conference and going silent for approximately 20 seconds before being walked away.
Beyond those two examples, we have the escalating worries swirling about 80-year-old President Joe Biden based upon his continued verbal and mental gaffes and miscues. They have sadly happened with such frequency that one need only google “Biden senior moments” to view dozens of them.
As a matter of fact, Democratic voters are becoming more vocal in their concerns about Biden being in the Oval Office for another four years:
In the poll, fully 77% said Biden is too old to be effective for four more years. Not only do 89% of Republicans say that, so do 69% of Democrats. That view is held across age groups, not just by young people, though older Democrats specifically are more supportive of his 2024 bid.
The AP-NORC survey went beyond posing questions and presenting choices. It also had a word association exercise, asking people to offer the first word or phrase that comes to mind at the mention of each man.
The answers underscored how age is a particular drag for Biden across party lines, even when people aren’t prompted to think about that, and how Trump largely escapes that only to draw disdain if not disgust on other fronts.
In those visceral responses, 26% mentioned Biden’s age and an additional 15% used words such as “slow” or “confused.” One Republican thought of “potato.” Among Democrats, Biden’s age was mentioned upfront by 28%. They preferred such terms over “president,” “leader,” “strong” or “capable.” One who approves of his performance nevertheless called him “senile.”
It’s interesting to note that, while physical/mental health is a factor in deciding whether to step down (or be expelled), so too is how to replace these aging and powerful politicians. Consider this with Mitch McConnell’s seat:
The governor of Kentucky is Democrat Andy Beshear. The Seventeenth Amendment tells us that if a senator leaves office due to death, resignation or expulsion, the governor of said state is empowered to appoint a replacement to complete the term or to hold office until a special election can take place.
Beshear obviously wouldn’t be inclined to appoint a Republican to fill McConnell’s seat…and McConnell isn’t up for re-election until 2026. Thus, straight politics appears to be the deciding factor here.
While party machinations and needs may add to an aged politician’s reluctance to step down when it’s obviously time to, I also think that the inevitable want/need for continued power, money, and influence can’t be ignored. Sadly, such is human nature. And at that level, the harder it would be to give up such perks and benefits. However, it’s important to hear from McConnell himself about his role in what he perceives to be a very critical moment in the GOP’s history:
“There are those who are trying to redefine what a Republican is — I’m not in that group,” he continued. “And so this is, I think, an important point for the future of the party, and given my place in my career at this point, this is the most important thing going on that I might be able to have some impact on.”
In the extensive interview, McConnell also discusses his concerns about NATO, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and the fact that Republicans (newly elected, especially) are not concerned about Ukraine being defeated by Russia. This is where someone of McConnell’s age and experience is a great benefit to the Party.
Ultimately, however, the question really is:
At what point should human decency and compassion trump the political and ideological needs of those in power?