Congress

Senator Falls Ill; is It Good for the GOP?

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Doug Bandow at the 4Pundits site sniffs at the way Washington media has turned Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota's brain surgery after a possible stroke into political gamesmanship: if he, uh, well, dies, then his state's Republican governor gets to name a replacement–and goodbye, Democratic majority in the Senate.

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  1. It’s a sign of how quickly major media can “run out” of news and fall back on this kind of thing… and polls.

  2. Have they tested him for polonium?

  3. Even if he doesn’t die, and is just brain-dead, he will caucus with the GOP. Looks like a win – win for Republicans.

  4. That is awful. This poor guy apparently has some terrible blood disease. I hope he gets better. Of course if a tragedy does happen watch the hypocitical OMGs from the media never minding of course that given the same situation a Democratic governor with the chance to tip the balance of the Senate would appoint a Democrat and recieve no appropbation whatsoever from the media.

  5. “Have they tested him for polonium?”

    How long before the folks at KOS, Huffington and DU, start endorsing the Karl Rove and Dick Chaney assasinated Johnson theory? I am guessing they already have or will do so before the poor guy’s body is cold.

  6. Since we’re going all “political” about this, one of the Wyoming Senators has leukemia. Wyoming’s Governor is a Democrat.

  7. Brian, with the record Bushco has with silencing opposition, I really don’t think it’s a stretch to speculate in that direction.

  8. My Senator drives fast and takes chances. Good for the dems?

  9. John,

    <pedantic>

    It actually isn’t a blood disease, according to the reports I have heard. It is a congenital defect which causes the arteries and veins in his brain to be larger than usual.

    </pedantic>

  10. silencing opposition? In the last six years, I’ve never heard so much noise in my life.

  11. “Brian, with the record Bushco has with silencing opposition, I really don’t think it’s a stretch to speculate in that direction.”

    Dan T. If that is really you and not your imposter, you are pathetic whackjob. What a troll.

  12. Have they tested him for polonium?

    Comedy gold.

  13. Obviously the administration needs to fire their assassins. Time for some outsourcing to Eastern Europe! They know how to get the job done..with exotic style!

  14. the way Washington media has turned Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota’s brain surgery after a possible stroke into political gamesmanship:

    Personally, I thought Fox News’s coverage where they discussed if he could be declared incapacitated even if he lives was the height of class.

  15. …given the same situation a Democratic governor with the chance to tip the balance of the Senate would appoint a Democrat and recieve no appropbation whatsoever from the media.

    So Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, every Republican politician, every right wing blog, Regnery Publishing and the entire right-wing talk radio machine are no longer considered part of the media?

    ‘Cause you know every one of those outfits would be piching a blue hissy. Have you been asleep for the past 6 years, John?

    This is a bygone argument from the Conservatives Are Victims mentality. Please stop spouting nonsense and get with the times.

  16. By far the most ghoulish take on this appeared during Fox and Friends. The morning show hosts apparently believed that Republicans back in Johnson’s state could declare him incapacitated and snatch the seat. That actually can’t happen at all, as South Dakotans know – one of Johnson’s predecessors, Karl Mundt, served three years in the Senate after a stroke incapacitated him.

    Basically, Johnson will stay in the Senate unless he dies or resigns. He survived surgery and doctors are waiting to see how he coped, so the issues now are when he could return to work and whether he’ll run for his third term in 2008. It’s entirely possible that he’ll be unable to work but stay in the seat.

  17. So the news reports say that this problem is caused by a birth defect. Oh I can’t wait to hear the Hannity/Coulter/Rove spin on this now! “See? Democrats are this way because they have a birth defect! We’ve been telling you this all along! Democrats are all brain-damaged!”

  18. Yea, I think the polonium comment wins this round.

  19. The good news is that at least one member of the US Senate can prove he has a brain. In 1957 and 58 the control of the Senate had the possibility of changeing. In the end it didn’t happen.

  20. Put him on ice for a while, they will be able to cure him soon with the benefits from embryonic stem cell research.

  21. There are precedents, of course, for brain-dead Senators serving out their terms. Strom Thurmond comes to mind.

  22. Republican reaction to Terri Schiavo vs Republican reaction to Senator Tim Johnson. Notice the irony?

  23. Coming Spring, 2007 to a theatre near you…

    “Weekend at Bernies III, Capitol Hill”

  24. There are precedents, of course, for brain-dead Senators serving out their terms. Strom Thurmond comes to mind.

    For God’s sake, why stop there? Brain death as a requirement for the job is practically a running joke.

  25. “You’ll Put My Rifle In My Cold, Incapacitated Hands!”

  26. Brian, with the record Bushco has with silencing opposition, I really don’t think it’s a stretch to speculate in that direction.

    Since Bushitler took office there have been at least 37 suspicious deaths.

  27. ChicagoTom

    Frankly, I’m not too sure the Fox coverage was that much different than what I heard on NPR as the story unfolded on my drive home last night.

    It seemed to me that Rs were salivating at the chance to hold the Senate and Ds were lamenting their potential loss of same.

    What seemed to be absent was any actual concern about Tim Johnson’s well-being.

  28. Since Bushitler took office there have been at least 37 suspicious deaths.

    Can you expand on that, TWC? I had so much fun with the “Clinton’s Are Murderers” conspiracy stuff. This sounds almost as good.

    Maybe even better.

  29. Mad, although the post’s headline looks like a swipe at Republican’s implied glee at the impending death of a Dem, if you read the article it isn’t about the Republicans at all. It’s the WPO.

  30. Why is it heartless to worry about the health of a major political figure? What if it were Bush? Mr. Bandow takes himself too seriously.

  31. Wow, imagine if the GOP gets slight control of the senate….. it would almost exactly as if the democrats had slight control in the senate.

    The mind boggles at the vast gulf of difference between the Republocrats and the Demuplicans. Er…. something.

    meh.

  32. What seemed to be absent was any actual concern about Tim Johnson’s well-being.

    Maybe that’s because he’s a politician. What concern people do exhibit is probably fake.

    Seriously though, it’s sad…but after the prayers are said it’s the power dynamics that are the real news. It’s like something out of Shakespeare.

  33. Mad,

    The 37 suspicious deaths are spread across 17 states in the southwest and most are connected to GWB because they were Reagan Democrats that voted against GWB in the last election. Most of them had heart attacks and were in good health before they were denied medical attention by ER’s that had been overwhelmed by illegal aliens taking advantage of GWB’s indifference to problems created by illegals.

  34. If the guy is incapacitated, like in a coma or something, how does he vote? I don’t think you can vote in the Senate by proxy. It is not like he can have some snot nossed hill rat aid act in his place. If the guy can’t vote, doesn’t that effectively mean that there are 99 not 100 Senators? If so, what is the party breakdown then.

  35. Madpad,

    We don’t exactly see Republicans cheering over his potential death, do we?

    Oh, and remember that your earlier list of right-wing media is a tiny, tiny fraction of the total media landscape. The fact that yes, there are dissenting opinions, doesn’t mean that one side is vastly overrepresented.

  36. Oops, _isn’t_

  37. Each of us is touched in different ways by tragedy that is not directly related to our friends and families. I can walk right past a homeless guy and not think twice but I won’t go within 100 yards of The Wall or the Holocaust Museum. So it’s difficult to determine what’s real and what’s not when it comes to other people’s perceived indifference or grief.

  38. So if he’s incapacitated for the next two years, will he miss more or fewer votes than Joe Lieberman?

  39. “Please, put his hand on the Bible so he can take the oath of office. Do you, Mr. Johnson swear to uphold…..”

  40. …your earlier list of right-wing media is a tiny, tiny fraction of the total media landscape.

    Are you smoking something there, fatmouse?

    It’s hardly tiny and it’s damn loud and shrill, too. If they want something reported by the media, they have no problem getting it in the news.

    Over the past few years it’s actually more likely thin will get reported in the media because Fox is now a competing news source.

  41. First piece of legislation introduced – adding an addendum to the ADA qualifying being “deceased” as part of a protected category.

  42. You guys are so skeptical. We all know he did this to gain sympathy for a presidential run. Sympathy got Hilary elected.

  43. This guy has a stroke and needs brain surgery, now the senate might tip to the GOP? Damn my luck.

  44. The Democrats better relax some of the environmental regulations on embalming fluid, quickly.

  45. Good point, TWC. I didn’t mean to tromp any feeling you have. It was merely a cynical statement about politicians. Don’t take it too seriously…it’s hard to put a tone of snarky bemusement in the post.

    Certainly my sympathies – as far as they go for anyone not close to me – go out to him and his family.

    But I’m still not inclined to view the average politician’s public displays of feelings as sincere and without the hint of opportunism.

  46. Please spare me all of the sentimentality. Politics ain’t beanbag. The notion that either Team Blue or Team Red has some kind of corner on moral virtue and good manners is just plain stupid. They are all a bunch of power-hungry jackals–how do you think they got there in the first place? I don’t wish ill on anyone, but since I’m not related to Mr. Johnson, the only way the story affects me (if at all) is through its political implications. Damon’s right, though. The Senate is pretty much in deadlock, whatever happens.

  47. What seemed to be absent was any actual concern about Tim Johnson’s well-being.

    Well, at the risk of showing what a callous prick I am, I’m not particularly concerned. And I also get the general lack of concern for the guy. People get fucked up and otherwise drop dead every day. You see it on the news and maybe muster a “I’m glad that wasn’t me”, then it slips the mind. This guy happens to have a lot of power, so that’s the hook. My wife is rotating through the ICU this month, so if anyone is really in the mood to get all weepy I’m thick with tragic stories. But I don’t think any of them involve folks with bigtime jobs.

  48. John,

    “If the guy is incapacitated, like in a coma or something, how does he vote?”

    I’ll take Strom Thurmond’s last term for 1000, please.

    Aaaaaaand Scene!

  49. The Senate is pretty much in deadlock, whatever happens.

    deadlock? How can you tell jokes at a time like this?

  50. If he had waited until after he was a senator, he could have died in committee.

  51. Everyone knows the truth. They drugged this guy and, at GWU hospital they switched his brain out with Tom Delay’s. This is his reward for taking the fall. When Senator “Johnson” returns to the Senate, he’ll announce that he had a near death experience and that God appeared before him and commanded him to switch his party allegiance.

  52. If he had waited until after he was a senator, he could have died in committee.

    I think I’ve laughed out loud more times reading this thread than any other, ever.

    Oh, and my, er, condolences to the family, best wishes for a speedy recovery, etc. etc.

  53. There are precedents, of course, for brain-dead Senators serving out their terms.

    Have we already forgotten that Joe Biden lost a big chunk of his brain a number of years ago?

  54. …Strom Thurmond comes to mind.

    In the interests of bipartisionip let me add Robert C. Byrd.

  55. This is one of those hard situations where it seems crass to do point out the potential for a tip in the balance of the Senate, but on the other hand news organizations of whatever stripe would be remiss in not pointing it out. It very much qualifies as a newsworthy angle, even if it does seem a bit heartless.

    Hopefully it won’t come to that though.

  56. This is a real nice conversation.

  57. Just to clarify the original post: If the senator dies, there would be a special election per SD law. If he lives up is declared incapacitated, that’s when Governor Rounds could appoint a replacement.

    Rounds is occasionally level-headed enough that there’s a slim chance he would appoint a dem to avoid being the “the governor who took the senate away from the democrats.” His state just re-elected him, but we also just re-elected dem representative Stephanie Herseth, so there wasn’t an overwhelming republican mandate.

  58. With the Dems calling for impeachment and calling bush hitler and a war criminal. i don’t feel sorry for them. The Dems and liberals turned politics into a partisan hate fest. The GOP should be very partisan. the nations security depends on it.

  59. With a possible 50-50 tie, which party gets the chairmanships? Do they play rock-paper-scissors, winner take all? Does the loser get a lap dance from Barbara Boxer? I really want to know.

  60. The Republicans get it since they have Cheney’s tie-breaking vote.

  61. Well, it would be worth it then, if only to see Babs Boxer shrink even more into irrelevant obscurity.

  62. If Johnson dies, do you suppose Santorum’s daughter will cry little ham tears at the funeral?

  63. It’s entirely possible that he’ll be unable to work but stay in the seat.

    If only every congressmen did this. Well one can dream…

  64. Will the Republicans filibuster so as to kill him in the Senate?

    If he survives that, would Bush get a veto?

  65. “Republican reaction to Terri Schiavo vs Republican reaction to Senator Tim Johnson. Notice the irony?”

    Yeah, that’s right! Not a single Republican tried to remove Terri Schiavo from her seat in the Senate. They would have let her serve out her term. What blatant hypocrisy!”

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