A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Al Cross: McConnell makes play to sideline Trump as he has chance to remake how he’ll be remembered

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. . . . On such a full sea are we now afloat.” – Brutus to Cassius, Julius Caesar, Act 4 The last time I talked with Mitch McConnell, I suggested that our next conversation be about the future of the Republican Party (after Donald Trump). I didn’t use the last three words, since it was just before the election. He...

ANALYSIS: Some ideas for countering the Big Lie about presidential election (a clue: Biden won)

By Al Cross Director and Professor UK Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues I wrote recently that journalists, including those in rural areas friendly to President Trump, have an obligation to counter his big lie of election fraud that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Now Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan and American Press Institute Executive Director...

Al Cross: McConnell’s speech was a turning point, as he stands up for the truth

On one of the most dramatic days in American history, Kentucky’s senior senator saw he would lose control of the Senate; fled the chamber under attack from a mob incited by a president whom he had enabled, but who probably cost him that control; and gave a speech concluding their political divorce. Mitch McConnell’s remarks, which you should read, might have been the big news of the day if not...

Al Cross: Mischievous Christmas gifts for Kentucky politicians, a tradition continued

Thirty-nine years ago, Ed Ryan, then the Frankfort Bureau chief of The Courier-Journal, wrote a column headlined “Possible gifts for officials, first family.” Ed had great material to work with – Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., his appointees and wife Phyllis George Brown – and he made the column annual. Ed died in 1984, at only 45, but his journalistic legatees have continued the tradition. Since...

Al Cross: Governor Beshear needs help with preventive pandemic messages

It’s rare for a high-ranking official to seek advice publicly, but that’s exactly what Gov. Andy Beshear did Wednesday at his daily coronavirus briefing, seemingly at wit’s end when it comes to persuading Kentuckians to follow his emergency orders and help thwart the accelerating pandemic. Beshear was asked by Melissa Patrick of Kentucky Health News (which I publish) about a Washington Post story...

Al Cross: Mitch McConnell has the switch to turn off The Trump Show, but will he use it?

As far as we know, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t told President Trump to throw in the towel and start funding the transition to President Biden. That’s a message that would quickly emit from the leakiest White House in living memory. So why hasn’t he given Trump the word, for the good of the country? For one thing, the current episode of The Trump Show may be the climax of the...

Al Cross: Republicans cement Frankfort power; will they overreach?

Well, that was a whoopin’. Tuesday’s election was a political disaster for Kentucky Democrats, and it has the makings of a governing disaster for their leader, Gov. Andy Beshear. But if Republicans overreach, it could be a public-health disaster for us all. Driven by allegiance to President Trump and a strong seventh endorsement of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, voters increased Republicans’...

Al Cross: Good, evil, McConnell and the Supreme Court

After decades of writing about politics, never have I been so eager – anxious may be a better word – for an election to be over. That thought came when I read an Oct. 20 story in the Somerset Commonwealth Journal about a Republican rally where Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jonathan Shell, declared, “This campaign is about good versus evil.” U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers had a similar theme:...

Two-thirds of Kentuckians approve of Beshear’s COVID-19 efforts, 60 percent support mask mandate

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentuckians polled Oct. 7-15 gave Gov. Andy Beshear good grades for handling the coronavirus pandemic and supported the idea of state law to require wearing of masks in public. (Graph from Spectrum Networks) The poll, and released Oct. 21, found that 37 percent of Kentucky adults strongly approved Beshear’s handling of the crisis, with another 28 percent saying they...

Al Cross: Amendment 2, on the ballot, has a hidden agenda but it’s a good one

As our tumultuous, pandemic-extended election consumes the country, this space takes a breath to offer a closer look at something important on Kentucky’s ballot, and a look back at a political kingmaker. If your ballot has several races, you may miss one or both of the constitutional amendments on the back. You may have heard of the first one, “Marsy’s Law” to establish rights for crime victims,...

Al Cross: McConnell’s good at politics but for whom?

In the only debate of their race, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Amy McGrath painted very different pictures of the incumbent, on whom the election is essentially a referendum. The Senate majority leader, seeking a seventh six-year term, portrayed himself Monday night as a supremely accomplished practitioner of politics who gives Kentucky an advantage when states compete for federal money. “It’s not...

Al Cross: Trump gets an F, Beshear a B so far; what pandemic grade will local officials get?

As we approach a crucial election, it’s time to think about the sort of leaders we want and need at all levels of government – especially when strong leadership is badly needed to help save lives in a pandemic. On that task, our president has failed on almost all counts. I doubt Vice President Mike Pence really believes what he said in Wednesday night’s debate: “From the very first day, President...

Mitch McConnell’s legacy is a conservative Supreme Court shaped by his calculated audacity

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with reporters, July 30, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) By Al Cross University of Kentucky Unless Democrats win both the White House and the Senate in November, abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is about to finish his project of remaking the federal judiciary from top to bottom. The impact of that achievement...

Al Cross: Power, precedents, and political pyromania — yes, indeed, Mitch McConnell is playing with fire

There is logic in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s argument for quickly filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but upon close inspection it reveals his flawed political nature – and its risk to the country. To many, the boss of the Senate seems to be following different rules than he did in 2016, when he declared hours after Justice Antonin Scalia died that the Senate...

Al Cross: Mitch McConnell should get Trump to stop contradicting science — that’s bad for public health

When I was a child growing up in one of the poorest counties in the nation, with one of the smallest percentages of college graduates of any county, I was lucky. I had parents who had been to college and knew something about public health and had even worked in it. Even the less fortunate folks in our community had respect for the local health department. We all knew that it was a trusted place with...

Stack goes another round with legislators, pushes back on data questions, answers queries on schools

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Republican legislators kept up their questioning of the state’s coronavirus data last week, and the state health commissioner and Democratic lawmakers pushed back. Sen. Danny Carroll of Paducah, co-chair of the Program Review and Investigations Committee, was the leading questioner and most outspoken legislator, just as he was at the panel’s Aug. 13 meeting,...

Al Cross: Beshear sees his limits; now it’s time for an individual character test and for you to carry the ball

There’s no shortage of subjects for a Kentucky political column: the U.S. Senate race (Mitch McConnell’s got a leg up, and both sides are misleading you), the bipartisan plan for the election (kudos to Secretary of State Michael Adams and Gov. Andy Beshear) or the Republican convention (Donald Trump’s latest TV show, well produced but with too much fiction). But the most important piece of business...

Al Cross: McConnell, his power tested, needs a deal at this critical time for him and the nation

The last two times Kentuckians have re-elected Mitch McConnell to the U.S. Senate, his best logical argument has been his growing power: as minority leader in 2008, and would-be majority leader in 2014, why should a state with many needs give up such influence? Voters say it again and again. For most of his current campaign, McConnell has made a similar pitch, overtly in ads and subtly in “earned...

Latest White House COVID-19 report shows fewer Kentucky counties in danger zones this week

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky got a better report this week from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It has two more counties are in the task force’s “red zone” — for places with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people, and a positive rate of at least 10 percent in tests for the virus — but a lot fewer in its “yellow zone,” for those with 10 to 100...

Al Cross: Local, trusted voices are needed in a pandemic and doing the right thing should be exalted

Norman Chaffins and Donnie Keeton probably never expected to see their name in a column about Kentucky politics. But they’re elected officials who have done the right thing when it comes to the coronavirus, and they and their kind should be exalted. Chaffins, a Republican, is the sheriff of Grayson County, in west-central Kentucky. Keeton, a Democrat, is a magistrate in Morgan County, in Eastern...