02 March 2010

Wild Pitch : Jim Bunning Plays the Fool

Graphic by Larry Ray, with apologies to the horse. We ran this image with Larry's March 13, 2009, Rag Blog story about Jim Bunning -- but we couldn't resist using it again.

Jim Bunning of Kentucky:
Completely batty his last time at bat

By Larry Ray / The Rag Blog / March 2, 2010

Since last Friday, Senator Jim Bunning has singlehandedly halted a measure to extend emergency unemployment benefits and health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Americans. This is nothing new for Bunning. He made Time magazine's list of the worst senators, and refused to return to Kentucky to debate his opponent, instead doing it from Washington, where it was later learned he had used a teleprompter for the debate.

We had an article about him last March when he ranted, raved and berated Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner during Senate hearings ["Republican Buffoon Bunning: Another Shameful Show].

His ego-driven, unreasonable grandstanding stunt has already caused more than 2,000 DOT workers to be laid off, with countless other layoffs and losses spiraling upward because of highway and other transportation projects being halted.

After eight years of George W. Bush taking America from a $280 billion surplus to a $13 trillion national debt with no GOP opposition, Bunning, like the crazy old uncle, popped up from the back benches of the Senate and righteously proclaimed, “We cannot keep adding to the debt. It’s over $14 trillion and going up fast.” And exercising a rarely used Senate procedure he stopped the bill in its tracks, demanding: “If we can’t find $10 billion to pay for it, we’re not going to pay for anything.”

It is clear Bunning is totally out of touch with Americans facing today's tough times because he has dug in his heels, oblivious to continuing calls for him to reconsider. Even moderate Republican Senator, Susan Collins has tried to no avail to get her fellow Senator to relent. Bunning pouts and stubbornly revels in his ability to take one last power stand as a U.S. Senator. Crazy and inappropriate as it may be.

Ultra conservative and equally obtuse South Carolina GOP Senator, Jim DeMint, has jumped in praising Bunning's irrational stand, telling the world that those opposing Bunning's damaging and ill conceived stunt are "hypocritical."

You might remember DeMint as part of the Washington D.C. "C Street Family" conservative prayer group who prayed along with disgraced So. Carolina Governor Sanford, and for his extreme conservative reactions to most everything including nixing transportation funds for bicycle, walking, or wilderness trails.

We are getting a fine midyear election preview of Republican leadership, or lack thereof. More disturbing than the senile rants of outgoing Senator Jim Bunning is that GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who forced Bunning to step down at the end of this year and not run again, will not now step in again and make Bunning just sit down and shut up. . . for the good of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

As I observed one year ago, "Bunning is clearly old, cranky and may be exhibiting early senile dementia. He also may still be living in some reverie from his days as a major league baseball pitcher dating back to the 1950's. But even back then the only good thing many Cardinals fans remember that Jim Bunning ever did was blowing the 1964 pennant for the Phillies, so the Cardinals could come from six games back and win."

Halting essential emergency assistance to America's jobless and stopping vital work across America in these tough times is no game. Senator Bunning's time at bat again shows him swinging wildly and striking out.

The only good thing about Jim Bunning is, like the old horses from his state of Kentucky, he will soon be put out to pasture. He finally relented this evening allowing the emergency bill to go to a vote and to President Obama for his signature. Now his party's leaders need to take him to the barn and leave him there till the end of his term.

[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]

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