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HomeOpinionColumnMitch McConnell has some health issues but he's still in the saddle

Mitch McConnell has some health issues but he’s still in the saddle

By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times

Like buzzards circling over roadkill on a rural highway, the national press corps swooped down on Kentucky’s senior U. S. senator last week.

Sen. Mitch McConnell suddenly stopped talking in a Capitol news conference and was escorted back to his office. A few minutes later he returned to the podium and seemed to answer questions without difficulty.

“I’m fine” was his explanation.

Almost immediately, news commentators started speculating that the longest serving leader in the history of the Senate was in a health crisis and likely would be giving up his seat in the upper chamber or his leadership role. Later, McConnell’s office said he would serve out his current two-year term as Senate Republican leader. His Senate seat is up in 2026. McConnell, 81, was first elected in 1984.

Kentucky media took the bait and began theorizing that Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, might ignore or legally challenge a new state law that only persons from the same political party can be appointed to fill an unexpected Senate vacancy like a resignation or death. McConnell asked for the bill to be passed and the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly happily obliged.

McConnell suffered a concussion in a fall in March at a Washington hotel and missed about six weeks in his office. It was revealed that this year he also had fallen while on a trip abroad and at a stateside event. The senator had polio in his childhood and is said to have difficulty in climbing stairs. He also tripped and fell four years ago at his home in Louisville, causing a shoulder fracture that required surgery.

Like him or not, Mitch McConnell is the most powerful member of the U. S. Senate. Kentucky voters obviously believe he has been good for the state, electing him six times.

He disappointed me with his support of the Citizens United ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court in 2010 that opened the door to unlimited “dark money” political contributions by corporations, including non-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.

Yes, his body may be frail, but Mitch is still tough-minded and smart. Don’t count him out yet!

(Contact Keith at keithkappes@gmail.com).

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