He takes a lot of questions, but U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is a master at not actually answering them. Unlike so many in Washington, the Senate Republican Leader and current candidate for re-election does not feel a compulsion to constantly hear himself talk.
As he has recently and repeatedly demonstrated, McConnell has absolutely no problem with avoiding or stiff-arming the press. It is entertaining, up to a point, to watch him frustrate the overwhelmingly hostile media.
He is not the least bit embarrassed or uncomfortable about repeating scripted sound bites over and over again. It is difficult, if not impossible, for press questioners to get McConnell to say anything that he has not carefully considered beforehand. His self-discipline helps explain his success.
McConnell’s views are fairly well-known by virtue of his many campaigns, interviews, floor speeches and roll call votes since he first ran for office in 1977. Still, since he wields so much power, and may soon wield even more, it is proper for the media to persistently, but respectfully, pursue specific position statements on important issues.
This columnist has previously posed questions to other politicians (none of whom have answered). Here are some for McConnell:
Will you debate Matt Bevin? If not, why not? You may lead Bevin in the polls, but he is a legitimate challenger. Don’t voters deserve a chance to see you spar side-by-side so they can decide if you have lost a step over your thirty years in the Senate and see if he is up to such an important job?
Candidates for the Republican presidential nomination do lots of debates. U.S. military members risk their lives every day. So shouldn’t a senator who makes crucial decisions affecting those troops follow the example of the would-be GOP presidents and run the much less dangerous risk of debating his opponent at least once?
You have repeatedly called for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with “common sense reforms.” What are they? Do you support the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act put forward by Republican Senators Burr, Coburn and Hatch? The Empowering Patients First Act proposed by Georgia congressman Tom Price? The Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act? Something else?
Why should Kentuckians vote for you without knowing your specific ideas for alternatives to Obamacare? Do they have to vote for you to find out what you would do?
You accuse the Obama administration of waging a “war on coal.” Do you believe that carbon emissions from American coal-fired power plants contribute to rising global temperatures? Are there any specific government actions to reduce or regulate carbon emissions from American coal-fired power plants that you would support?
After voting to end debate, you were one of 32 senators who voted against the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act that passed the Senate last year. You said the bill had “serious flaws,” and identified border security as one of the biggest. What other specific problems were there with the bill?
Rand Paul, your fellow Senator from Kentucky and supporter for re-election, offered an amendment that you effectively supported. It would have allowed legalization of illegal immigrants only if Congress voted that the border is secure, required a border fence built in in five years and banned a national identification card. Would you have voted for the Senate immigration bill if Paul’s amendment was part of it?
After the Assad regime used chemical weapons in Syria you voted against a resolution authorizing military action saying that “a vital national security risk is clearly not at play.” Is a vital national security risk at play in Ukraine?
The NATO treaty considers an attack against any member as “an attack against them all” and says other NATO members must act “forthwith,” using force if required. Should the U.S. act with force if Russia moves on NATO members Estonia or Latvia as it has Ukraine?
In the Pacific, should the U.S. intervene militarily if the People’s Republic of China attacks or invades Taiwan? The Obama administration refuses to call China a “currency manipulator.” Alison Lundergan Grimes, the likely Democratic nominee, does. With which one do you agree?
Was it a mistake to have supported two wars and creation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit without also supporting new revenue sources to pay for them? Do you stand by your statement that George W. Bush was one of the great presidents in U. S. history despite the fact that America suffered its worst ever attack on the mainland and its worst economic collapse since the Great Depression during his administration?