McConnell Plays ‘Long Game’ in American Politics

Friday, July 1st, 2016

I’ve interviewed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell perhaps a dozen times. We’ve discussed public policy, state and national politics, and details about his personal life. Yet I was still surprised by the candor, honesty, and revelations he offers in his new memoir, “The Long Game.”

It’s a good book that is in some ways a textbook on how to run a campaign. It’s also a survival manual written by a political insider who has mostly avoided the minefields inside the Washington Beltway for the past 30 years. “The Long Game” also is a poignant love letter to his parents, whose teachings he still calls on for counsel.

Bill Goodman with Sen. Mitch McConnell in KET's Louisville studio.

Bill Goodman with Sen. Mitch McConnell in KET’s Louisville studio.

You’ve probably observed what a master McConnell is at not answering questions he’s asked by journalists. In the book he explains he only responds to questions that will help move his agenda forward. He consciously chooses not to deviate from his answer no matter how many times he’s asked the question. Former Meet the Press host David Gregory, who is now a political analyst for CNN, says McConnell is the toughest interview to get an answer from in Washington.

The senator is proud of that.

When McConnell does choose to be interviewed outside the U.S. Senate chamber by a gaggle of reporters, you see a rather serious, somber man. Some critics and pundits have labeled him boring. Those who disagree with his policy decisions call him an obstructionist. But if you have a long conversation with him, you discover an introvert (his word) in majority leader’s clothes.

LongGameCoverHis memoir reveals the backstory on all of this.

If for no other reason, McConnell’s book is worth adding to your summer reading list for the astonishing reveal of his thoughts about whether to seek reelection in 2014. To learn now that he was concerned that his defeat could cost the Republican Party the majority in the Senate is worth the $28 list price.

Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, you will appreciate that “The Long Game” is a fascinating account of a professional politician who rose from humble beginnings to the top of one of the most complex institutions in the world.

McConnell says in the epilogue, “I love America. And I as look back on my many years in public life, I think the simplest way to describe my philosophy is to say that I have tried in my own small way to preserve those things I find most lovable about my country.”

Watch my full discussion with Sen. McConnell about his memoir on One to One, Sunday at 1 p.m. on KET.

Treatment Group Engages Communities in Addiction Fight

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Editor’s note: Here’s an updated on KET’s Inside Opioid Addiction initiative from Associate Producer Casey Parker-Bell.

To paraphrase an old proverb, it takes an entire community to help counter Kentucky’s opioid crisis.

That’s what our KET production crew learned at a recent Seven Counties Services community mobilization workshop. Scott Hesseltine, vice president of addiction services for the Louisville-based non profit, says the events are designed engage and mobilize a range of individuals in helping those with a substance use disorder to get into recovery. He believes such mobilizations are crucial to treating the thousands of Kentuckians struggling with addiction.

Our crew observed the Seven Counties workshop in the Bullitt County community of Zoneton. Attendees there learned about the basics of opioid abuse, how to administer Naloxone to an overdose victim, and the benefits of syringe exchange programs. Seven Counties staff also explained their partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation so they can offer a treatment plan that combines medically assisted treatments with a 12-step model of recovery. This approach, called COR-12, combines two treatment strategies that have long been seen as mutually exclusive.

As Seven Counties Services continues to open new treatment facilities throughout its central Kentucky and southern Indiana service area, they hope to bring first responders, medical providers, legal professionals, and concerned citizens together with the goal of healing whole communities from the ravages of addiction.

Several attendees at the workshop in Zoneton told us their views on the drug challenges facing the state, how to end the stigma surrounding addiction and recovery, and how to fight a disease of isolation with open, honest conversation.

See more content from KET’s Inside Opioid Addiction initiative.

KET to Air Highlights of SOAR Innovation Summit

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

It was a grand time to be in eastern Kentucky.

For those arriving in Pikeville last weekend, everything seemed to shout “hello and welcome” to the attendees of the 2016 SOAR Innovation Summit.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-5) and then-Gov. Steve Beshear launched the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative in 2013. Its mission is to expand job creation, enhance regional opportunity, and improve the lives of everyone living in 54 counties of Appalachian Kentucky.

If you’ve never been to Pikeville or if it’s been a while since you’ve travelled to the city, you should take time to visit this summer. As our KET crew snaked down the mountain and around the final curve into Pikeville last Sunday afternoon, we found a vibrant community. The shopping areas and restaurants on the west side of town were brimming with traffic. The downtown area revealed a surprising array of new buildings and construction.

The Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of Pikeville has a commanding presence on Main Street. Across from two very nice hotels, the school’s new colleges of optometry and nursing are under construction. From there it’s only a short walk to a downtown park and the East Kentucky Expo Center.

Pikeville is bustling.

But the rest of the region continues to struggle from job losses due to the downturn in coal mining, lingering health disparities, and insufficient infrastructure to connect Appalachia to the outside world. Monday’s SOAR Innovation Summit focused on efforts to strengthen and diversify eastern Kentucky’s beleaguered economy as attendees learned about a range of innovative ideas and promising solutions.

This year Gov. Matt Bevin joined Congressman Rogers as co-chairs of the event. The schedule included presentations by an array of federal officials, including Appalachian Regional Commission Co-chair Earl Gohl and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Monday night at 8, KET will air a recap of this year’s summit. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see.


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