After another freeze, McConnell must come clean about his health

by Linda Blackford

Sen. Mitch McConnell made his point.

On Aug. 4 and 5, he made a triumphant return to Fancy Farm, speechifying with gusto and showing the political faithful that he was fully recovered from various health ailments, including the visually painful scene at a U.S. Senate chambers press conference where he froze up for about 30 seconds before being led away.

But that point dissolved on Wednesday when McConnell, 81, continuing his recess tour of Kentucky, froze up again during a press conference in Covington. He later came back to answer two more questions; his office issued a statement saying he felt light-headed.

Both times looked like much more than just light-headedness — it was painful to watch and must have been extremely panic-inducing to experience. Once was an anomaly, twice points to a pattern of a man in clear distress.

Now we need the question asked and answered: Is Mitch McConnell experiencing a serious health crisis, or not?

One of the most important politicians in the country — and certainly one of the most important to the state of Kentucky — needs to tell his constituents what is going on with his health, and whether it truly impairs his ability to serve them.

In March, McConnell sustained a concussion and broke a rib in his fall. He was out of the office for about six weeks of recovery.

But we don’t know if the concussion has permanently affected his brain or something benign, like a new medication, is causing these blips.

Ironically, the most recent one occurred after a reporter’s question about whether he would run again after his term expires in 2026. He has said publicly he will serve through that term but has not announced another run.

As I’ve written before, congressional seats don’t confer a lifetime appointment, although some appear to treat it like one. I believe there should be term and age limits to stop people like Sen. Strom Thurmond and Sen. Dianne Feinstein from serving well past their capacity.

We don’t know if McConnell is there or not. Rumors and political jockeying about various succession plans are already underway. McConnell could scotch all of that with some transparency.

Most of all, the people of Kentucky deserve to know if their political leaders are functioning at the levels they need to, and right now there are far too many questions about the senior senator from our state.

Linda Blackford writes columns for the Lexington Herald-Leader.