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Common Sense, Common Decency

Dec
15
2006

I was planning a column on the burgeoning Hillary vs. Barack donnybrook – complete with some amusing details from a slightly disturbing political groupie – but then news broke of Senator Tim Johnson’s near-fatal brain hemorrhage.

Like many, I am disappointed in all the partisan maneuverings I’m hearing as a result of Johnson’s condition. At this early date, no Republicans on Capitol Hill have tipped their hand, but you know the wheels are turning in the brain of party strategist Karl Rove. Republicans can barely contain their glee over the prospect of seeing Johnson incapacitated, putting control of the Senate in the hands of South Dakota’s GOP governor, Michael Rounds.

Meanwhile, beads of sweat are breaking on the brow of Senator Harry Reid, heir apparent to the title Majority Leader, who rushed to Johnson’s bedside earlier today to make sure his future remains assured, and offer a few encouraging sentiments.

Since we like to make bold predictions here at Spot-On, I’m going to make one now.

In the unlikely event that Johnson fails to make a recovery sufficient to allow him to resume his duties as a senator, former South Dakota Senator – and former Senate Majority Leader – Tom Daschle will replace him.

I don’t like it, as I dislike Daschle’s politics immensely, but it’s the common sense decision. Why?

Any choice by Rounds other than a Democrat would be a naked power play by the Republicans and would almost certainly multiply the party’s negative mojo. Rather, the best move for Republicans in this instance would be to demonstrate magnanimity in defeat and abide by the will of the voters – those who elected Johnson four years ago, and those who ousted the GOP majority in Washington five weeks ago.

And the ceremonial appointment of Johnson’s wife, Barbara, would not work since Mrs. Johnson would undoubtedly want to be with and care for her husband. It may be a nice gesture to offer her the position, but I doubt very much she’d accept.

And, lastly, Daschle would return to DC an experienced and respected presence in the Senate for South Dakota.

That said, my first choice, and the choice of anyone with a beating heart and an ounce of common decency, would be to see Senator Johnson make a complete recovery from his surgery and return to Washington.

Maybe Daschle’s got history with Rounds that would make this a virtual impossibility; I couldn’t find any evidence of it. Besides, I’ve got this image in my head that the Dakotas are a nice place where folks are civil to each other, and where people are still capable of doing the right thing.

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 9:26 AM | Permalink

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