The Slatest

What’s Going On With Mitch McConnell’s Hands?

McConnell stands in an elevator with his hands clasped in front of him. His right hand is badly discolored.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been trying to walk with his right hand in his pocket this week when photographers are around. But even a politician as deliberate as Mitch McConnell can’t help but allow the ol’ digits to breathe every now and then. And at the Senate Republican leadership press conference on Tuesday afternoon, his right hand looked like this:

Close-up of Mitch McConnell's bandaged hands. The right hand is bruised to a purplish hue.

And his mouth looked like this:

Close-up on Mitch McConnell's face, with bruising over his lip
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The photos began spreading on Twitter later that day. Unlike most photos of blue hands, they were not doctored.


McConnell’s press secretary has not responded to two requests for comment about whether the longtime Republican leader has suffered any health issue. But Politico congressional reporter John Bresnahan, who specializes in haranguing old senators about their mortality, asked McConnell on Thursday what’s going on. The conversation (via the Capitol Hill press pool) went as follows:

Bresnahan: Everyone’s been asking about your hands. Is there something going on?

McConnell: I’ve been worried about your health, Bres. How are you feeling?

Bresnahan: I’m feeling OK.

McConnell: Good for you.

Bresnahan: But I’m serious, is there anything going on we should know about?

McConnell: Of course not.


McConnell later reiterated to CNN’s Ted Barrett that he has “no concerns,” but wouldn’t answer when asked whether he’s being treated by a doctor. (It is, generally, a miracle whenever McConnell utters a word, or even looks at you, or even gives any indication that there’s another human being in his presence, when you ask him a question in the hallway.)


In the absence of a statement about what’s going on from either McConnell, who’s up for reelection on Nov. 3, or his press office, the void has been filled with speculation. Perhaps he had a fall and, as an older person, bruises easily. Blood thinners could accentuate that. He’s down a couple of horcruxes. A nurse had trouble finding a vein in his hand. The ghost of RBG is casting spells. Kidney issues. A metaphorical Halloween costume. But what’s the metaphor?

He just isn’t the same Mitch McConnell without full health and fresh, youthful hands for grabbin’ stuff!