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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The wit and wisdom of John Thune

John Thune, with the red tie, playing his background role.
John Thune has provided Congress some of its most absurd moments.  He has gained some stature as the subject of some of Donald Trump's malevolent tweets.  But he  became a fixture in the GOP leadership by not doing much at all.  Whenever the Republican leaders had an announcement to make about their latest grovel in serving Trump (not the country, of course), Thune was standing behind the leader, projecting whatever it is he projects.  That's about all he does, but it has earned him the number two spot in the GOP Senate hierarchy.  Midway through his Senate tenure, reporters noted his low key efforts.  One wrote:

"But the only reason people talk about him for President is because he’s a good looking guy in a city full of lesser looking people, is tall, and has an attractive wife. Other than that his greatest accomplishments are doing nothing.”

Another wrote:

",,,he has been in the Senate since 2004, -- preceded by six years in the House -- with no major legislative accomplishments to his name, although I assume he has amassed quite the collection of "Participant" ribbons in his trophy case just for showing up to vote."

 If Thune has any mettle, Donald Trump has provoked it.  When the Access Hollywood tapes in which Trump bragged about grabbing women by their pudenda came out, Thune recommended that he withdraw from his candidacy for president.  Trump never forgets those who do not support him every moment.  When asked about one of Trump's efforts to overturn the election of Joe Biden, Thune said it would go down in the Senate like "a shot dog."  Trump whipped out his twitter gun and said, " RINO John Thune, “Mitch’s boy”, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!"

Nevertheless, Thune voted with Trump's agenda 93.6 percent of the time. He did seem to understand the inanely corrupt efforts of Trump and his enablers to overturn the election and distanced himself from them.

Thune's usual reticence, however, is probably because the leadership thinks it best that he keep his mouth shut.   He has earned a reputation for not being the brightest bulb on the GOP marquee of lights. He became a big occasion for derisive laughter when he introduced what became known as the Cow Fart Bill.

The background of that bill came out of a Supreme Court ruling that told the Environmental Protection Agency that it was required to get serious about addressing emissions that affected air quality.    A farm lobby group noted that livestock, particularly cattle, are great producers and emitters of methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas.  The group suggested that the EPA would control the livestock emissions by placing a tax on each animal for the gas it emitted.  Their calculations predicted that the tax was so onerous that it would put farmers out of business, so the lobby wrote a piece of legislation which prevented the EPA from placing a tax on cow farts.  John Thune happily signed on as sponsor of the legislation.

But there were major problems with the law:

  • The EPA  never proposed imposing a gas tax on the livestock industry.
  • The EPA does not have the authority to impose such a tax.
  • The tax figures were contrived by the American Farm Bureau Federation, not by any established scientific or regulatory agency.
  • It was a lobbyist-sponsored and lobbyist-written piece of legislation. 
  • It was a blatant attempt by dishonest conservatives to malign the government and the global-warming scientists with a false accusation.
Thune submitted a law to prevent something that was not happening and could not happen.  The press and his congressional colleagues were not impressed with his legislative relevance or competence.

But his biggest gaffe came in regard to the Affordable Care Act.  He posted this tweet:

@SenJohnThune  Jun 8, 2015  Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.

Of course, those six million people would not have the subsidies in the first place if they were not on Obamacare.  

Thune's latest contribution to dimwit lore was over the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15.  He tweeted out this  bit of wisdom from his past:

Senator John Thune


I started working by bussing tables at the Star Family Restaurant for $1/hour & slowly moved up to cook – the big leagues for a kid like me– to earn $6/hour. Businesses in small towns survive on narrow margins. Mandating a $15 minimum wage would put many of them out of business.

The New York Times noted that he was "roundly roasted for innumeracy. He was a teenager in the 1970s. Earning $6 an hour back then is equivalent to earning more than $20 an hour today, because inflation has reduced the purchasing power of each dollar."

John Thune is becoming a legend.



1 comment:

Jerry K. Sweeney said...

I swan, the speeches and actions by the 2021 SD legislature support the contention that Senator Thune represents his constituents.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States