Monday, April 17, 2006

Time Magazine: It Has Been Running Out of Gas but Now Has Stalled with the Phony “Best Senators-Worst Senators” Gag

There’s 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 aren’t 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 Marovitz’s 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.

Ten Best

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 doesn’t 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 enemies—such 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 don’t 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. Senators—Taft, Russell, Calhoun, Vandenberg—it 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 couldn’t duplicate). Nevertheless—and it’s a big nevertheless—Lott’s legendary legislative expertise can’t 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 District’s defense of reading the Lord’s Prayer at football games (the liberal court nixed it but possibly not in the future). He’s 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.

Five Worst

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 well—who was a liberal yes, but an intellectually powerful lawmaker and dry, mordant wit. The only time you can be truly alone is when you’re 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). She’s born with no governing principle except to use her committee and her berth on Armed Services to help the Bath Iron Works with contracts. She’s 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 she’s 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 caved—although, get this, she has been a steady rock of courage in fighting to keep all of Maine’s redundant light houses operating with their lights burning all night. (Time ranked her with the best).


  1. Lovie's LeatherApril 17, 2006 at 5:06 AM

    Great list, Tom. It is nice, we really agree on things when there is no discussion of Judy Baar Topinka. Keep up the good work....

  2. Lovie's LeatherApril 17, 2006 at 5:08 AM

    Great list, Tom. It is nice, we really agree on things when there is no discussion of Judy Baar Topinka. Keep up the good work....

  3. Lovie's LeatherApril 17, 2006 at 5:08 AM

    Great list, Tom. It is nice, we really agree on things when there is no discussion of Judy Baar Topinka. Keep up the good work....

  4. Lovie's LeatherApril 17, 2006 at 5:08 AM

    Great list, Tom. It is nice, we really agree on things when there is no discussion of Judy Baar Topinka. Keep up the good work....

  5. Sen. Durbin is one of the few politicians who is questioning the huge rise in gasoline prices. The Republicans could care less about it. Both Bush and Cheney are on record before getting into office of wanting the price of oil to rise. OF COURSE because it helps their friends. BUT what about the cost to the consumer or the added cost to goods and the inflationary effect.

    Anyone remember STAGFLATION, a stagnant economy with inflation in the 70's caused by rapidly rising gasoline prices?

    And then there are the MAMMOTH oil company profits, the oil company mergers, and the shutdown of refineries to limit supply all the time blaming the EPA formulations as they RUN to the bank with mega gouged profits. And then there are the damnable hedge funds that run up the gasoline, oil, and natural gas futures on the slightest chicken little whim.....

    And the public pays out the wazoo...

    AND no one cares BUT Dick Durbin.

    Of course TOM ROESER doesn't care because he wants to be a respected big boy in the inner circle of the Neo-Cons.

  6. George Ryan - He Gone!!!!

    Hopefully Daley will be next!!!

    As a conservative, I am proud to say a voted for a pro second amendment conservative Democrat over a pro amnesty, anti death penalty convicted felon.

    Don't blame me (or Tom) - we voted Poshard.

  7. Does Al Harris even know what a Neo-Con is? I seriously doubt it. He is just using a new word that he recently learned. Tom Roeser is far, far from a neo-con.

  8. Does Al Harris even know what a Neo-Con is? I seriously doubt it. He is just using a new word that he recently learned. Tom Roeser is far, far from a neo-con.

  9. My (least) favorite Dick Durbin persona is the "Friend of the Worker". Durbin's support of sugar tariffs have cost over 10,000 (mostly union) jobs in the Chicago area alone. Fannie May, Brachs etc have moved to high wage/low raw material costs areas like Canada rather than suffer more tariffs.

    Durbin's tariff have destroyed the biggest Industrial Union in Chicago, raised the cost of candy, and increased the price of a renewable cane based fuel, ethanol.

    And for that he is called a Liberal?


  10. Tom Coburn is also my favorite senator (Ron Paul is my favorite member of congress).

    Norm Coleman is a Democrat (though I wouldn't have commented if you put a D by the three "republicans" in the 5 worst category).

    I would bump Brownback and Cornyn up the list.

    As for worst my list would include Chuck Schumer as in tumor and Arlan Specter both of whom are responsible for setbacks to the constitution and government which America may never recover. They are far more harmful to our nation than the faux Republicans Snowe, Chaffe and Collins.

    Jason A - Still smiling after the Ryan verdict. Happy Easter to you George - in jail!!!

  11. Norm Coleman is a Republican, the correction needed in Tom's blog and embarrassingly in my response.

  12. You create an interesting list; I'm relieved to see niether McCain nor Kennedy listed as the best. I am new to the blogging world and wrote up a little piece critiquing Time's means of evaluation. I'd be curious as to any thoughts you might have on what I've written, and what criteria you think should be used when creating such a list. You can see my thoughts on my blog at the address I've submitted, if you're interested. If not, that's okay too.