For the second time in as many months, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 81, experienced an … episode … on August 30, suddenly freezing, going silent, and appearing to have broken contact with the external world while talking with reporters.
Dr. Brian Monahan, the US Capitol’s attending physician, declared McConnell “medically clear” the next day, noting that “occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery.” McConnell sustained a concussion after falling in March.
But among the aging American political class, McConnell’s far from alone when it comes to recent public displays of something that most people think looks like senility. Two other names (not the only ones) that come to mind are US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 90, and US president Joe Biden, 80.
All this has people talking about things like age limits, term limits, and “competency tests.” Which is fine, I guess, but it seems to me that we may be better off with wandering attention spans, sudden descents into sleep, etc., than we would be with these people still at the top of their games.
“In that moment of amnesiac innocence,” Australian blogger Caitlin Johnstone writes of McConnell’s latest freeze-up, “you’d never be able to tell from looking at Mitch McConnell how many people he’s helped kill. …. All you’d see is a man. A cute, harmless, befuddled old man.”
How many people HAS McConnell helped kill? It’s hard to envision any answer which doesn’t include the word “million.”
As a member of the US Senate since 1984 and its GOP faction’s leader since 2006, he’s been one of the main political figures behind deadly US military interventions around the world. He’s openly backed, and whipped Republican support for, these wars of choice, and worked hard to defeat even half-hearted congressional attempts to rein them in.
In a world where justice meant anything, McConnell would probably be living out his golden years in a senior citizens’ complex back in Kentucky — specifically, FMC Lexington, a federal prison for inmates requiring constant medical attention.
Barring that — or, better yet, eliminating his job entirely — perhaps we’re better of with him in Washington. If he retires, he’ll almost certainly be replaced by someone just as evil, but still possessed of relative youth and mental acuity.
Every time Mitch nods off or freezes up at a meeting, or misses a vote to get a hip replacement or botox injection, there’s at least a chance of innocent lives being spared.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.