Theres a good reason why Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report are sinking in subscriptions, ads and general credibility while the British paper The Economist is solidly in the black and gaining. The U., S. newsmagazines are vapid, rooted in conventional wisdom and fawning to the kid market which is the reason why they arent being taken seriously. Yesterday Time issued a list of the ten best Senators and the five worst. Like everything else the magazine does, the list panders to the liberal mind-set. Included in the list of the best are Illinois Dick Durbin and Massachusetts Ted Kennedy.
Durbin, whom the late Steve Neal called a fat hustler, has lost some weight since Neal died but at bottom he is still the hustler, still the purveyor of arch and whimsically oleaginous piety. He will always be remembered for equating American fighting men and women who guard Gitmo with the troops of Pol Pot and the Nazi SS, for which he blubbered an apology before the full Senate which seemed embarrassed to hear it. He has no redeeming social value or legislative constants, is afflicted with intellectual cowardice and a craven appetite for cheap theatrics. His is a tin ear, demonstrated when he helped dedicate the Abraham Lincoln library and museum in Springfield and told the old story about Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz being named after the Emancipator because Marovitzs mother thought Lincoln was Jewish since he was shot in the temple. A bitter and unyielding partisan, any fancied contribution he has made was misinterpreted by Time since it is elastic in principle, undefined in intellectual content, meretricious and fraudulent.
As to Ted Kennedy, his promise was cut short with his acquiescence in the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne which sent him on a decades-long drinking spree interspersed, sadly not lucidity but debauches of verbal claptrap. His contribution to the Senate is stale liberal bosh which endears him to the indistinct herd of intellectual eunuchs who are gauged by the feeble, vacillating timorousness that comprises so much of journalism today.
Enough. You deserve what Time has not delivered: the ten best Senators and the five worst.
1. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma who shook up the House by having the courage to criticize its Republican establishment on waste and spending, becoming prescient long before rank-and-file Republican voters caught on to the weaknesses of the majority party there. He wisely served in the House under term-limits as he does in the Senate. In the Senate, this brilliant medical doctor is in the forefront of fighting waste and inefficiency as well.
2. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama who like Coburn is dogged at reading GAO reports. Has sponsored legislation which doesnt often get the headlines but which serves definite public needs: like bills to make arbitration more favorable to consumers, fought for the Bush welfare reform package; writing with Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the bill allowing parents and grandparents to contribute up to $250,000 for college expenses into investment accounts if authorized by the states.
3. John Kyl, R-Arizona, not a big fan of publicity who often takes on onerous tasks which win him enemiessuch as he did when he objected to the big appropriations bill in the summer of 2001in order to force then Majority Leader Tom Daschle to bring more judge nominations to the floor. A strong opponent of guest-workers, he is thoroughly grounded in whatever it is he advocates. (Kyle also rated on the Time list).
4. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) who has the tenacity and courage to stand up to the ultra-liberals of his party to support the Iraq war, risking possible defeat in a very liberal state. Not all that conservatives would want, but considering where he comes from and that he was the running mate with Al Gore, his posture is one of very great courage indeed.
5. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee who comes by his opinions after much reflection and is a work-horse rather than a show horse. Boring, stuffy and somehow his opinions get suffused in Senatorial lingo, but he is a solid workman. (Lugar also rated on the Time list.)
6. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), along with Coburn a leading exponent of social conservatism in the Senate and a possible presidential candidate, has a more liberal stand on immigration than Kyle but justifies it from the standpoint of Christian conscience while emphasizing strict border control. He has worked on issues that somehow dont get much coverage but are important like measures addressing religious persecution in the Sudan.
7. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). If anyone has attained the high intellect, strong conscience and parliamentary skill of the great U. S. SenatorsTaft, Russell, Calhoun, Vandenbergit is this Senator who is due to be majority leader next year if the Senate stays Republican. His great interest is campaign finance which, sadly, he lost to the demagogic McCain-Feingold group. Will probably be the best majority leader in a generation.
8. Norm Coleman (D-Minnesota). If anyone typifies change in political complexion, it is Coleman who started out as a Bobby Kennedy liberal (a Jew born in the Bronx), then re-examined issues and became an outstanding Republican mayor of once-stodgy St. Paul, then beat Walter Mondale who was trying for a comeback to the Senate. In the Senate he has been one of the fiercest critics of the inept, faltering United Nations and its semi-corrupt Security Council leadership.
9. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi). No one defends the stupid thing Lott said at the Strom Thurmond 100th birthday party not all the things Lott did as majority leader, but what is seen is that his real parliamentary and legislative skills are missed now that he is not in the leadership, which means that he probably will be the next majority whip if the Republicans continue control. His docility during the Clinton impeachment was due to the Clintonistas having something on him when he was a college cheerleader (the same indiscretion that Henry Hyde shrugged off to brave attacks leaked by then Clinton operative Rahm Emanuel when he brought impeachment to the House: courage which Lott couldnt duplicate). Neverthelessand its a big neverthelessLotts legendary legislative expertise cant be ignored.
10. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the first Republican attorney general of his state since Reconstruction, his legal skills are almost without peer and if he ever wished it, he would be a natural for the U. S. Supreme Court. He was elected to the Texas Supreme Court; his legal skills as AG took him to the U. S. Supreme Court to argue the Santa Fe Independent School Districts defense of reading the Lords Prayer at football games (the liberal court nixed it but possibly not in the future). Hes rapidly becoming known as one of the foremost conservatives in the Senate; challenges the White House on immigration which is a tough thing to do in Texas Republicanism.
1. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) (aforementioned): shallow, endowed with a weasel-like no backbone (different from having weasel eyes as Topinka describes Blagojevich as having because in addition to being insulting there is no general difference between weasel eyes and say pooch eyes whereas when you look at a weasel picked up in a zoo and you can turn it into a pretzel without it complaining you get the perfect simile for Durbin who has changed often, junking principle to accommodate his political interest). Craven and ingratiating, one is reminded of the line in Hamlet about Claudius, oh that he can smile and smile and be a villain. (Time ranked him with the best).
2. Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island) makes you wonder if there is a point where Old Yankee blood breeds its brains out. I knew his father, John Chafee wellwho was a liberal yes, but an intellectually powerful lawmaker and dry, mordant wit. The only time you can be truly alone is when youre with Lincoln Chafee.
3. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts). Rather a pathetic crustacean who bellows a lot until Happy Hour when he sinks into the glass. Is sincere in a sense because he has long ago surrendered conscience for convenience and at this stage hardly knows the difference. The difference in Kennedy when I met with him as an interviewee for the Kennedy School and the last time I met him is startling. He is pictured as the Lion of the Senate by a sympathetic and maudlin media who like to do something for the memory of John and Bobby. (Time ranked him with the best).
4. Susan Collins (R-Maine), vapid and intellectually uncurious chairman of the Senate Government Ops committee, the committee she once served as a staffer (and probably with some boning up could do a creditable job once again). Shes born with no governing principle except to use her committee and her berth on Armed Services to help the Bath Iron Works with contracts. Shes known for her stunning work on getting a National Weather Service office for her hometown of Caribou because since is surrounded by Canada it does not receive weather warnings from adjacent Weather Service office as other communities do. When I say this, I complete the list of things shes done for the nation. (Time ranked her with the best).
5. Olympia Snowe, (R-Maine) who is obsessed with keeping a liberal record so that she can get reelected in Democratic Maine. The only strong point she had previously was this: whenever a McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill would surface, she would try to tie in an amendment that would clamp down on labor union campaign fund abuses. But when the heat turned up, she cavedalthough, get this, she has been a steady rock of courage in fighting to keep all of Maines redundant light houses operating with their lights burning all night. (Time ranked her with the best).