Mitch McConnell memes are another sign of the internet at its worst

Mitch McConnell memes are another sign of the internet at its worst
Sen. Mitch McConnell freezes during event in Northern Kentucky
McClatchy - Lexington Herald-Leader / VideoElephant

You might detest his politics, but can cracking jokes at the expense of an 81-year-old having a very public health episode ever be a good look?

In July Republican Senator Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze mid-sentence during a press conference, before being led away by his team, social media was quickly inundated with reaction.

McConnell stopped speaking for 19 seconds before being escorted away by concerned colleagues, appearing to sway slightly and lose focus.

An aide explained that McConnell had “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment”. They continued: “He came back to handle Q&A, which as everyone observed was sharp.”

Sadly this happened again to McConnell on Wednesday when he was speaking at a press event in Covington, Kentucky and froze for around 30 seconds when he was asked about his intention to run for re-election in 2026. He was then assisted by an aide and answered two more questions before leaving without addressing the incident.

"Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today," McConnell's spokesperson said after the incident.

The memes following both incidents were relentless, with people calling on him to retire. Again, much like the reaction to the Titan submersible tragedy and the riots in France earlier this summer, it shows the often cruel, reactionary nature of social media, with people quick to chip in on major incidents in the name of a few easy likes.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Calling for younger leaders to represent Americans is perfectly valid, but outright mocking and joking about what appeared to be a serious health concern shows the internet at its least empathetic.

Yes, it’s a buzzkill sentiment, and McConnell’s brand of politics has been completely oppositional to many over the years, but that shouldn’t excuse piling on an elderly public figure suffering an episode in the most public of spaces, should it?

Some did express similar thoughts online, with one writing: “Oh also about this McConnell business. Y’all need to keep it cute with your insults! Not about McConnell (**** him) but because several people are making ableist and ageist jokes. You can talk about him without elderly and disabled people catching strays.”

Another said: “All the people in the comments joking about this - i dont find it funny at all. I’m no Mitch McConnell girlie in the slightest but he’s had some serious health issues… Lets not joke about people’s health and scary situations like this.”

It’s not the first time health concerns have been raised about McConnell. In March, the 81-year-old suffered a fall at a Washington DC hotel and was hospitalised due to concussion and a minor rib fracture. After undergoing rehab, he returned to Congress in April.

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