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Friday, January 28, 2011

He learned all he needed to know about politics from a DARE class

Duh?  No?
Aside from the Republicans who are trying to give themselves colonoscopies with their own heads, voters in northeast South Dakota know John Thune as a person who learned how to say that obstinate and petulant "no" as a child and never got over it.

As a congressman, Thune had a hard time figuring out what the job was. He thought that the only thing he had to do was recite the script written for him by those who know he needs scripts.  It was fairly easy for him to learn it.  It consisted of the word "no."  But, by gosh and golly, once he had learned, he was going to use it, and he did on every occasion he could find.  He's still doing it.  Infrastructure is the biggest solicitor of a howling no from John Thune.

The first problem with John Thune was that he did not think Aberdeen needed a service office.   The big problems came when proposals were being made to construct a bypass for U.S. 281 around Aberdeen ad to make U.S 12 from Aberdeen to I-29 a four-lane.  John got out his old script and recited no.  When asked why not, he said we couldn't afford it.

The woman who was heading up the group which recommended making U.S 12 a four-lane highway was a prominent Republican.  When a series of public hearings were set up, she insisted that John attend one of them.  That's known as the night that Helen Miller stood John Thune in a corner with a dunce cap and administered some remedial instruction. As he stood in the corner in a petulant seizure, he relented somewhat, but he always pouted.   Luckily, two U.S.Senators, Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson carried the project forward and got the by-pass for 281 and the four lanes for 12 built.

At one point, the U.S. 12 project hit a snag when an environmental impact study raised a question about its impact on the Waubay Wildlife Refuge.  To resolve the problem, people gathered at the VFW hall one morning to have a telephone conference with Sens. Daschle and Johnson.  John Thune sent his staff to distribute flyers complaining about environmental concerns being such an obstacle to progress. 

When it  came to water development projects,  Thune recited his script.  When it came to attending agricultural caucuses to review legislation that would affect his state,  Thune just said no.

And now that President Obama is proposing work to repair a deteriorating infrastructure and bolstering educational competitiveness, there is good old John Thune saying that one word he has rehearsed throughout his political life.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States