Thune Disappoints

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota has decided to vote against John Bolton’s nomination to the UN. The tacit justification for this action has little to do with Bolton and much to do with an independent commission deciding to close Ellsworth Air Force Base.

I’m deeply disappointed in Thune’s decision, especially since I voted for him in the last election. The issue of Ellsworth AFB is entirely unrelated to the Bolton nomination, and not only is voting against Bolton an act that is downright petulant and unstatesmanlike, but it’s entirely pointless. The BRAC commission was a bipartisan commission. Their recommendations are only in the recommendation stage, and Thune’s actions are pointless, petulant, and wrongheaded.

Sen. Daschle lost his job because of petulant and partisan obstructionism. It is extremely distressing to see a good man like Senator Thune follow in such lamentable footsteps. This action is the elevation of petulance above principle, and puts Thune on the side of obstructionism and against the critical task of pushing for reform and accountability at the UN. Furthermore, if Thune thinks that he can blackmail the administration into keeping Ellsworth AFB alive, he’s wrong. This action only hurts the cause of keeping Ellsworth open.

This is the sort of thing we’d expect from the Democrats, and the fact that Thune should know better only makes this choice more distressing.

2 thoughts on “Thune Disappoints

  1. Daschle lost his job because Republicans have a 17-point registration advantage in South Dakota and Thune rode the coattails of a President re-elected by a 60% margin. Perhaps South Dakotans are clamoring for the immediate ascendancy of the foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic Bolton to the nation’s most sensitive diplomatic position, but I doubt it will cost Thune too much popularity by voting against him.

    Despite his ulterior motives for opting to veto Bolton, Thune’s stock actually went up a notch with me (it couldn’t have fallen, so there was only one way to go) because he’s at least showing that constituent service is a higher priority to him than robotic partisan allegiance. After the 2002 Senate campaign when Thune stood in glassy-eyed awe applauding Bush’s proposal to ki-bosh drought relief for South Dakota ranchers, I would have never thought he’d have the stones to get past his schoolgirl crush on administration orthodoxy long enough to grow a spine. It sure is a pleasant surprise to see the rudimentary development of posture in the man, even though I’m not optimistic it will last.

  2. I agree with Mark that Daschle’s loss had to do with a heavy Republican advantage and the Administrations’s and RNC’s relentless effort.

    I can’t say that I’m as impressed with Thune’s newfound spine as Mark is, though. I think Thune is simply very, very scared by the prospect of spending the next five years watching Ellsworth close and seeing replays of his boast that he has the President’s ear and could thus save Ellsworth from the chopping block. So scared, in fact, that he made this rather silly move of changing his tune on Bolton a short time after saying on Hardball that Bolton was exactly what was needed for the UN. Hardly looks like a principled or statesmanlike position. It does make you think this guy’s going nowhere as a Senate leader.

    South Dakota needs to face some unpleasant facts. It has three electoral votes (and the Republicans take them totally for granted anyway) and one seat in the House, an overwhelmingly urban and suburban body. The Senate is the only place where South Dakota has equal representation, and we need Senators who know how to accumulate power to use on our behalf. The South Dakota GOP has never produced a Senate GOP leader or a Presidential nominee. Say what you will about their ideology, but the South Dakota Democrats did that twice in 25 years. I think it’s because of the huge disadvantage they have in party registration – they simply have to be more politically talented in order to get there in the first place.

    Electing Thune because the President recruited him to run and enthusiastically supported him was a really bad idea. Bush owes him nothing for agreeing to run – Thune’s reward was a Senate seat that he obviously wanted badly. Daschle may have been a thorn in Bush’s side, but he was also in a position to help advance selective items in Bush’s agenda when he chose to do so. He could have made a deal and delivered on it, and Bush knows that. Thune can do is threaten to change his vote, but I agree that it will hurt more than it will help.

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