Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was recently confronted by some angry Kentuckians at a Cuban restaurant in Louisville.
On Friday night, Sen. McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were eating at the Havana Rumba restaurant in Louisville’s Bardstown Road neighborhood when Kentuckians began shouting at him to “leave the entire country alone,” telling customers that the senator was going to “come for Social Security.” This is perhaps in reference to McConnell’s recent statement blaming the federal deficit — which exploded following President Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy — on Social Security on Medicare.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that at one point, a man took Sen. McConnell’s to-go box with leftovers from his meal, opened the door, and dumped the contents into the street.
Casey Leek, a witness to the encounter, said many Kentuckians dining in Havana Rumba that night appeared to be opposed to Mitch McConnell. Video of the confrontation shows a table of people telling one protester to leave, while McConnell sits silently at his table. McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said McConnell and Chao “appreciate those who spoke up against incivility.”
The remark about “civility” is noteworthy, given that McConnell is arguably the most uncivil Senate Majority Leader in modern times. In 1984, when McConnell was first elected to the U.S. Senate, there were only 41 motions for cloture filed, which happens when there needs to be 60 votes to block a filibuster from the minority party.
However, when McConnell became the Republican leader in the Senate, the number of cloture motions more than doubled, from 68 in the 109th Congress to 139 in the 110th, when McConnell became Senate Minority Leader. Cloture motions under McConnell’s leadership rapidly increased during President Barack Obama’s administration, particularly in his second term.
Sen. McConnell also once said that one of his proudest moments as a U.S. senator was telling President Obama that he would deny him his third Supreme Court appointment, after centrist judge Merrick Garland was appointed to fill the vacancy on the court when Antonin Scalia died in early 2016.
This isn’t the first time Mitch McConnell has been confronted in a restaurant by angry Kentuckians. In July, constituents surrounded him at the Sarino restaurant in Louisville, playing the Public Enemy song “Fight the Power” on a portable stereo. Restaurant confrontations seem to be the only time Kentuckians get to interact with their senator, as McConnell has become notorious for only holding town halls for people willing to spend money on tickets or RSVP well in advance.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.