EDITORIAL: Kentucky will miss McConnell’s influence in D.C.

Published 2:34 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s plan to step down as the GOP minority leader in the Senate in November will have a reverberating effect on Kentucky.

There had been signs his long standing in Washington was waning. However, it remains difficult to argue that he has talent and political savvy, tools that have benefited Kentucky for years.

McConnell has spent a lot of time making himself available to Daily News editorial board meetings. He was available to defend his positions and articulate what he believed was best for Kentucky and the nation.

His talents do not include a gregarious personality. That’s not who he is, but he had doggedly pursued Kentucky’s interests and has been a powerful influence for Kentuckians for many years.

McConnell has an air about him, one of authority and patience, and his skills as a politician, regardless of one’s political leanings, cannot be denied. He got many things done, brought billions of dollars to the commonwealth and Kentucky is better for his presence in Washington.

The Kentucky senior senator plans to serve out his term, which ends in 2027. He is 82. He has suffered a series of falls and there have been several instances where he froze during public speaking, which led pundits to question his fitness and abilities.

His abilities are impactful and earned respect. A chief nemesis of Democrats, the shrewd McConnell sparred often with his political rivals.

But President Joe Biden says he has “trusted him and we have a great relationship. We fight like hell, but he has never, never, never misrepresented anything.”

Within his party, McConnell has diverging views on national security than the Republicans guided still by former President Donald Trump, an issue that McConnell says helped lead to his decision to step down as the GOP leader in the Senate.

“Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular time,” McConnell said recently. “I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.”

The Republican Party has drifted from some of McConnell’s views on foreign policy matters. Democrats, of course, behind showing respect for him as a man, certainly are not unhappy he will surrender his role.

McConnell has fought for stronger aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, a reflection of his desire to project American strength and in his view to protect American interests and lives.

“We haven’t equipped the brave people of Ukraine, Israel or Taiwan with lethal capabilities in order to win philanthropic accolades,” he said. “We’re not urgently strengthening defenses in the Indo-Pacific because it feels good. We don’t wield American strength frivolously. We do it because it is in our own interest.

“We equip our friends to face our shared adversaries so we’re less likely to have to spend American lives to defeat them.”

As for Kentucky, we will not be as strongly represented after November. McConnell has been an asset, and from Kentucky’s viewpoint, his leadership and consistent determination to promote the commonwealth’s interests will be sorely missed.

— Bowling Green Daily News