By Kam Tackett
On August 30, 2023, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had another momentary “freeze,” seemingly unable to answer questions from reporters without the help from those around him. This is coming on the back of another momentary lapse on July 26, 2023. During the initial event, McConnell, who is now 81, had just finished his welcoming statements for a talk on the annual defense policy when, for 19 seconds, he simply went silent. McConnell was then escorted away by Sen. John Barrasso from Wyoming. A couple of minutes later McConnell walked back to the conference, and when asked said he was fine. Subsequently, McConnell was asked if he was able to fully do his job, to which he responded “yeah.”
The second of the two freezes came at a press event in Covington, Kentucky, when he was asked about his views on running for reelection. Initially, McConnell seemed unable to hear the question, but when asked again, McConnell trailed off in a mumble and then remained silent for around 30 seconds. During this time a McConnell’s aide said “I’m sorry, you all. We’re going to need a minute.”
McConnell subsequently answered two more questions, but did not answer the question about the 2026 reelection. He also appeared to have difficulty speaking while answering the two questions that followed.
The reason as to why McConnell has had these two freeze-ups is not currently known, although many speculate it has something to do with a fall the Senator took March 8 that landed him in the hospital with a concussion and minor rib fracture. He is said to be in good health now, however, and many other government officials that have spoken to McConnell have backed this.
These freeze-ups are coming in the wake of many calling for mental competency tests for government officials. There has been a growing sentiment among many that the people in charge are getting too old, and that there should be some sort of requirement to test if they can still perform the tasks required to run the government properly and efficiently. These outcries originally started when clips of President Joe Biden, having similar freezes and misunderstandings, began circulating online. I interviewed a college student, 20, who asked to remain anonymous, about their thoughts on the freezes by US officials and they said, “It’s crazy to me that we have people in government that can’t even form a sentence together, and they’re the same people who make the major decisions for the country.”
McConnell is still traveling and working as the Senate Minority Leader. He last gave a speech on how “government shutdowns are always a loser for Republicans,” on Sep. 19, 2023. He was fully coherent for this presser.