Jim Bunning, the former baseball player, is pushing 80. He’s old, he’s grumpy, and his undistinguished political career is coming to an end. Knowing that his own party, the Republic Party, would put him out to pasture in the Bluegrass State if he didn’t retire, he’s going out with a whimper by acting as a sphincter muscle.
He led a one-politician effort to block extension of unemployment benefits, claiming that now is the time for the government to stop buying things it can’t afford.
Like all those wonderful wars he voted for? Nope. Like funding a program that actually does real and tangible good for people who have been thrown out of work in this horrid economy.
He lost the game and gave in last night.
Jim Bunning is the poster-boy for so many things that are wrong with the United States Senate and American politics in general. Blessed with an excellent curve ball and a sneaky fastball, he pitched a perfect game for the Phillies against the Mets on Father’s Day in 1964. His accomplishments in baseball led to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, an honor he richly deserved.
And, he loved to piss off his manager, Gene Mauch, by ignoring Mauch’s signals to the catcher and throwing whichever pitch he pleased. Nobody tells Jim Bunning what to do.
Now, he’s out on his own again, ignoring signals from his own party members to back off and stop blocking 10 billion dollars in unemployment funds. Of course, the Senate makes up its own rules, and could easily work around Bunning’s obstinacy, but – that’s another thing that’s wrong with the Senate and our politics.
Time Magazine named Bunning one of the five worst Senators, a dubious distinction he earned every bit as much as his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. As of this writing, Bunning’s last public appearance in the media was when he was confronted by a number of reporters as he was getting into an elevator in the Capitol.
A “Senators only” elevator: another symbol of the high regard in which our politicians hold themselves: they even have exclusive ELEVATORS.
Bunning huffed and puffed and ignored the reporters’ questions about why he was holding up the money unemployed people desperately need, before he made his escape.
Yes, soon-to-be-former Senator Bunning, you’re right. We don’t have the ten billion dollars for the unemployment program. Just like we don’t have the money for the wars you enthusiastically support and the car company bailouts and the bank bailouts and on and on.
Your socialized medicine and generous public pension are assured for the rest of your days.
Hit the shower, Jim. You’re of no use whatsoever to the American people. We won’t miss you.