The Slatest

Mitch McConnell Says He Hasn’t Set Foot in the White House for Months Because of Its Leaky COVID Measures

Mitch McConnell, wearing a mask, stands in a hallway in front of American flags, answering questions from the press.
Mitch McConnell not at the White House. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Since President Donald Trump contracted COVID-19, the White House has been trying to spin the development by saying, alternatively, the coronavirus isn’t that bad, and the Trump administration did everything it could to stay safe. Both are demonstrably false, particularly the Trump-led White House’s approach to pandemic safety. It was an example of performative safety, rather than prioritizing safety, and, lo and behold—surprise, surprise—they all got sick. Well, not all. Yet. But many. As the pandemic whips its way around the West Wing, the spotlight has been (rightfully) placed back on Trump’s lack of personal responsibility when it came to his own health and protecting those around him. Trump, obviously, will never admit he’s wrong, never admit he’s really sick, never … never … never. Most Republicans won’t either. So we’ll have to take solace in small rebukes, like this one from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said during two campaign events this week back home in Kentucky that he has avoided the White House altogether—for months—because of its breezy approach to the virus.

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“I haven’t actually been to the White House since Aug. 6 because my impression was their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” McConnell said. The 78-year-old may be feckless, but he’s also a polio survivor and has stressed the importance of safety precautions such as mask-wearing, and has made vague overtures to depoliticize the wearing of masks.

But McConnell won’t even go to the White House! The leader of the Senate! That’s quite an admission. And, bizarrely, an assertion of GOP-branded personal responsibility in the form of an abdication of professional responsibility bordering on negligence, which is also very on brand for the majority leader.

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