Thursday, December 14, 2006



There's an old cartoon that shows two vultures sitting on a tree limb; one is saying to the other, "Patience, my ass. I'm going to kill something." I'm thinking of this cartoon because of the response of the So-Called Unbiased Media to Senator Tim Johnson's illness. They seem to be salivating at the prospect of the Senate remaining in Republican control. The problem is, there's no reason to conclude that Sen. Johnson will not be able to serve in the next Congress. The Associated Press has already declared the Senate back to 50-50 with Johnson out:

The last time the Senate convened with a perfect balance of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, the two parties struck a power-sharing agreement. Republicans got control of the Senate, but gave Democrats equal representation on the committees that drive the legislative machinery. Six years later, with Democrats poised to take power with a 51-49 edge in the incoming Senate, the possibility of another evenly divided chamber hovered over the Capitol Thursday as Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota recovered from brain surgery. If Johnson is unable to serve, South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican, would appoint someone to fill his vacated seat. A Republican appointment would split the Senate anew, giving Vice President Dick Cheney the tie-breaking role and handing control of the chamber to Republicans.
This is truthiness, not truth. Bloomberg, at least, manages to maintain a grip on reality, acknowledging that Sen. Johnson's illness doesn't automatically remove him from office:
While vacancies aren't uncommon in the Senate, they can only occur "by death or resignation," said Richard Baker, the Senate historian. "There either has to be a death certificate or there has to be a letter of resignation," he said. "Nobody has the power to determine a vacancy for a person who is still living."
And if any Republican says a senator should be removed from office if physically unable to perform the duties, there's an obvious response: "Strom Thurmond."
Not to mention Pajamas Pete Domenici.
Or Jim Bunning.
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