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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tim Johnson Controversy Indicates Democrat Lack of Confidence

It's looking like Senator Tim Johnson's campaign and his liberal friends in the "mainstream" media are going to milk his illness for all it's worth.

David Kranz' latest hit piece on the Joel Dykstra campaign in the Argus Leader today takes aim at Dykstra's website for a statement it makes: "South Dakota's Voice for the U.S. Senate."

Democrats seem to be making the most of the fact that Johnson's speech has been hindered by his brain hemorrhage and it is difficult for him to speak--and are trying to portray anything said or done by Republicans as a slur against Johnson's impairment.

The Kranz hit piece does point out (16 paragraphs into the story) in a quote from Kathleen Hall Jamieson with the The Annenberg School for Communication that

"The word 'voice' is used a lot in politics, a very standard political statement"

Of course the Democrat Party mouthpiece for the South Dakota blogosphere, Badlands Blue, is quick to fan the flames Kranz started.

The terminology of "voices" and "speaking" for the people one represents in politics is hardly a new concept. It's actually a natural analogy, because elected representatives do speak for the citizens in the legislative body. An elected representative is the voice of the people who cannot be there to meet with the legislative body. But this terminology does seem to be a new prop for those who are concerned over Senator Johnson's election chances.

How long will it be (later today?) until Dakota Voice is castigated for taking advantage of poor Senator Johnson's illness by calling itself "Dakota VOICE?"

Pat Powers at the South Dakota War College also points out that a recent Johnson campaign video is being recognized by the Rapid City Journal as a preemptive strike against concerns over his speech and other issues related to his brain hemorrhage.

But if Johnson can't or won't engage Dykstra in a debate this political season, which is still up in the air right now, the video may do little to calm those concerns.

Senator Johnson's progress after the brain hemorrhage which cost him much of his speech and mobility--and could have cost him his life--is commendable. I think most South Dakotans, regardless of politics or party affiliation, have been praying for him and are cheering for his recovery. On a personal level, he's come a long way.

But is it enough to meet the rigorous demands of representing the people of South Dakota in the United States Senate? This isn't an easy job, even for someone in the best of health. Being able to speak on the Senate floor for or against legislation, to do committee work, and to slave away for long hours when the Senate is in session are part of the job description.

These are valid concerns which the voters of South Dakota can and should consider during this election. Maybe Johnson is up to the demanding work of a United States senator, but for the campaign and other Democrat voices to be so hyper-sensitive about the issue doesn't speak well of their confidence.

Democrats have been so hysterical over Johnson's condition that they went ballistic last year when National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign announced Republicans weren't going to wait any longer to start the campaign for Johnson's seat. Definitely overkill on the part of Democrats.

I said it then and I'll say it again. South Dakotans have been patient, gracious and hopeful with Senator Johnson's illness. But if Democrats expect the people of South Dakota to have confidence that Johnson is up to the job, they can't keep hiding behind a sick man as their primary campaign defense.


Brianna said...

Let's be clear, the most successful senators are those who use their voice behind closed doors. If you want a senator who gets things done, you make sure he has friends and seniority in Washington. Johnson is pretty clearly that guy. Since returning to the senate, he's been our best soldier. Millions of dollars for our schools, our vets, our water projects, our roads. Our farm bill has country of origin labeling because of Johnson's tireless efforts. If this is really about results, then let's stick to the facts rather than slightly discriminatory reasoning here, guys

Haggs said...

As hard as Republicans are going after Johnson (including wanting him to "retire"), I think it's Republicans who lack confidence and realize Dykstra is just going to be Whalen 2.0.

I actually almost agree with you about the controvery over the "voice" thing. I thought the TV ad was a great way to dismiss the idea that Johnson isn't up to running and and that he's very capable of working for SD in the Senate. But I worry that his campaign starting this junk about the word "voice" counteracts what made that ad so great.

Though don't get me wrong, I think Dykstra would gladly sell his mother if it would get him elected, but I think the "voice" controversy is a stretch.

plainsguy said...

Let's be honest. When was the last time there was a sustained debate on the U.S. Senate floor that required the verbal fortitude of Daniel Webster?

Those days are over. We need a Senator that has the trust and confidence of his peers and an ability to negotiate behind closed doors for the good of SD. By all accounts, Senator Johnson has done that.

We've seen increased federal funding for schools and roads. Johnson made the Lewis & Clark water project happen. And we've seen dramatic economic improvements for our Native American communities under his watch. All of this while supposedly "incapacitated".

I think the Johnson folks may be overly touchy on the Dykstra "Voice" mention. However, if Dykstra makes having debates the centerpiece of his platform, he will piss off a lot of SD voters. Johnson's record demonstrates that he is clearly capable of representing us in DC. His health should not be a campaign talking point for either side.

Anonymous said...

You talk a big game about speech being important for what a senator can do. Let's cut to the chase here-- Johnson has done a remarkable amount since he returned to the senate. Our schools, our vets, our water projects, our roads ... all better funded. Our farm bill has country of origin labeling ... because of Johnson. If this is really about results, then let's stick to the facts rather than the cutesy banter.

Bob Ellis said...

ruthybeth, that's what I'd rather this campaign be about: issues, not petty blame games.

Johnson's liberal record makes for far more substantive debate than whether Republicans are being mean to him.

But if you were an employer looking to hire a radio announcer, a customer service rep, or a salesman, a key consideration would be whether that prospective employee was able to adequately perform the requirements of the job.

The people of South Dakota are employers looking to fill a slot in the United States Senate; they wouldn't be a very wise employer if they judged with their heart and no input from their heads.

If the honest, objective answer to the question of whether Johnson is physically up to the demands of the job, then fine. We can get on with examining the question of whether liberalism better serves our state and nation, or whether we should return to the roots which created a great nation.

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