At an event back home in Kentucky on Thursday, Mitch McConnell acknowledged what we all know: Donald Trump and his White House are not even coming close to following the accepted guidelines on how to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“I actually haven’t been to the White House since August 6, because my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” said McConnell.
Which, well, exactly.
McConnell has been a loyal Trump lieutenant for the duration of the President’s first term, but it appears that his own health is not something the Senate majority leader is willing to risk in support of Trump.
McConnell is 78 years old, and survived polio as a child. He has, to his credit, been far more aggressive in ensuring that senators (and staff) stick to best practices when it comes to mask-wearing and social distancing.
Not all of his colleagues have been as strict. Sens. Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Mike Lee (Utah) and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) have all tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks. Both Tillis and Lee attended the Rose Garden ceremony for SCOTUS nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, an event from which a number of positive tests have emerged. (Earlier this year, Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Rand Paul, McConnell’s home state colleague, tested positive for the virus.)
The numbers are important because McConnell is desperate to confirm Barrett prior to the November 3 election, when – if polling holds – not only will Trump lose, but Republicans will lose the Senate majority as well.
And if several GOP senators are unable to vote for her due to coronavirus quarantines, well, then that is a major problem for McConnell. (Johnson has said he would vote for Barrett in a moon suit if need be.)
Whether Trump acknowledges the virus or, as he did in an interview Thursday, suggests that “when you catch it, you get better,” it’s clear that on this issue at least, some other Republican leaders aren’t following his (terrible) example.
The Point: Covid-19 doesn’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. Or if you believe in it. Mitch McConnell – and a majority of the country – get that. Unfortunately, McConnell can’t seem to convince Trump.