Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 26, 2011

THE MISSING DEPTH OF THOUGHT.... I've long considered Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) the Republican version of John Edwards. After one largely underwhelming term, in which he didn't tackle any noteworthy policy initiatives and failed to distinguished himself as an expert in an area, he starts believing the hype and sees himself as a presidential candidate. All the while, his most notable accomplishment appears to be an ability to impress people with his handsomeness.

That said, Edwards could at least answer relevant questions better than this.

In a brief interview [Wednesday], just above the Senate chamber, Sen. John Thune (R-SC) rejected President Obama's State of the Union call for broad infrastructure upgrades, citing his opposition to new spending projects and claiming that existing mechanisms for funding current transportation infrastructure projects are basically adequate.

"I understand the goal, but right now this is going to be -- anytime you talk about 'investment' it means new spending," Thune told me.

Right. Our global competitors are investing in research and new technologies, superior roads and rail, and making considerable investments in innovative, modern methods of transportation. We could do that here and reap the rewards -- job creation, economic development, cleaner air, less congested roads, better public safety, etc.

Thune "understands" all of this, but "investment" means "spending," and "spending" means "bad." He added today, "If he's got ideas about massive new quote investments, that's code for new spending."

Yep, he's quite the visionary.

The senator went on to say that the highway trust fund has "worked very well for a long time," despite the fact that this really isn't true.

Naturally, then, Thune may very well take his bold message onto the national stage.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

His bland superficiality says "Bush Lite"- and I ain't talkin' about beer. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 26, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

...anytime you talk about 'investment' it means new spending.

I wholeheartedly agree---and the first "investment thingies" that ought to be pushed over the cliff and into the bottomless abyss are...

...wait for it...

...drumroll, if you please...

Investment Banks.

Posted by: S. Waybright on January 26, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, too many voters don't base their votes on who has depth or policy knowledge. They vote for the guy they "want to have a beer with" or the one who's most "like me" and then wonder why huge problems never get solved.

Posted by: atlliberal on January 26, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I would say John Edwards' most notable accomplishment was moving the other Democratic primary candidates to adopt policy prescriptions more focused on working class families and reducing wealth inequality--whether or not they followed though on those prescriptions--most notably, on health care.

Posted by: Kiril on January 26, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Remember that he didn't really work very hard for his seat, given all the party money and other assistance sent his way to displace Tom Daschle. Before that, he was SD's undistinguished House member.

So, yeah, why is this dim bulb regarded as a serious player?


Posted by: K in VA on January 26, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

This is also 100% straight FOX News cant. Literally. I had a dentist appointment this morning, and to pass time, I asked the hygienist cleaning my teeth if she'd seen the SOTU last night. After declaring herself a "FOX-watcher," and admitting that she'd skipped the SOTU, she then replied with literally the exact same concept (which she said she'd "heard"): "he kept saying 'investment,' and investment just means spending."

If that's the level of Thune's perspicacity and gravitas, he's scre...wait. Damn it, that's all Bush's level of perspicacity was, too. And Thune's handsome, too. Crap....meet our next President, folks.

Posted by: Lars Olsson on January 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

well, it's the GOP form of leadership, rugged good looks and the ability to read a teleprompter trump actual deeds or understanding of the crisis that faces us.

Posted by: Jamie on January 26, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Ann Coulter can call him a "faggot". But handsome can only take you so far. Kennedy was the last truly Hollywood presidential candidate and this was at the apogee of America's love affair with celebrity good looks. Today, we're jaded and cynical. Mitt Romney has the advantage in being good-looking and "father-like". Sarah Palin's good looks draw an unwelcome contrast to her intellectual abilities. Haley Barbour is on the opposite end of the scale and is precluded by the sheer jokiness of his appearance. Oh, and Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani are pigs. Ultimately, however, you win on something other than sheer surface appeal.

Posted by: walt on January 26, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

All the while, his most notable accomplishment appears to be an ability to impress people with his handsomeness.

Well, that will win him the Villager primary, for sure. And that's not insignificant, as winning the Villagers over is the reason John McCain still appears regularly on the Sunday bobblehead shows.

Posted by: PeakVT on January 26, 2011 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

K in VA: Calculation: Good hair + good teeth + tall + white + controllable = Ideal Republican Stepford candidate.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on January 26, 2011 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I don't find him attractive-he has the same glazed eyes and plastic hair as all the other machine republicans-the same smug self-satisfaction gleams from every pore. he looks like a guy with a bad case of narcissism to me

Posted by: sue on January 26, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Kennedy was the last truly Hollywood presidential candidate and this was at the apogee of America's love affair with celebrity good looks."

Reagan?

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 26, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

If a 'handsome face' and the appearance of an elderly statesman is what it takes, why is Fred Thompson not our president?

Indeed, if these were the real qualifications for becoming the republican nominee and then the next president, the ideal candidate would be John Ensign! What an elder stateman appearance should be all about.

However, don't knock Thune. His empty head is no more empty than the long ensemble of potential repukniCON presidential nominees. Will it take much more to be the repuke nominee than a pretty face and the ability to repeat Frank Luntz talking points?

It must give Tweety Matthews a thrill up his leg when you provide a list of the potential repuke nominees:

Sarah, Michelle, Mittens, Rev. Mike, 9/11 Rudy, Bobby J, The Lovely Lass Lindsey, Haley, John B, I'll sit out the snow in Florida Chris, Our bitch Mitch, Jimmy DeMented, Timmy, Mikey Pence, Man-On-Dog, Neutered Gingrich.

The above list of potential nominees do have things in common:
- the ones who are not completely empty-headed are completely wrong-headed
- any one of them as the president should scare the crap out of you
- I see no basis to believe that Thune would be any less qualified or detrimental to our country

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on January 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

anytime you talk about 'investment' it means new spending,"

The Republicans have their talking point. They've been pushing it since before the speech.

But if Thune thinks the current state of infrasturcture is adequate, I have a bridge to sell him.

Posted by: Gregory on January 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Walt I agree it take more than good looks to win the Presidency, but Obama is pretty good looking. He is probably better looking than the movie star who would play him if a movie was ever made of his life. If you look closely you will notice that he really pays attention to his looks. For example, he recently colored his graying hair. Our president is certainly aware of his good looks and he uses them to his advantage.

I do agree Obama's appeal doesn't end with his good looks.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jose, Reagan was good-looking 30 years before he ran for president. By the mid 1950s, those boyish looks had degraded to something else. Call it Death Valley Days because it was hardly handsome in the conventional sense. Reagan's appearance, btw, was never the secret to his political success. He was a rock star in places like Sun City because he was a sharp critic of taxes, social obligation, contemporary culture, and the complexity of modern civilization.

Posted by: walt on January 26, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I guess pissing $$$ on two endless wars doesn't constitute "spending."

Posted by: Dilbat on January 26, 2011 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well the Republican Party sort of does have a Federal government 'investment strategy' they just don't call it that and they don't like to talk about it: collect taxes from the working and middle classes and, through a panoply of complicated tax dodges (including scandalous subsidies to oil, timber, corporate farms and other extraction industries); government contracts (HALIBURTON, need I elaborate)and other favor distribution mechanisms, distribute those funds to the rich and powerful.In addition their trade policy is designed to support 'most favored industries' at the expense of the American consumer, a sort of hidden tax (e.g., the huge import tariff on cane sugar). At the same time this particular criminal syndicate collects a generous 'vig': campaign contributions, private jet hops, trips to 'massage parlors' and the like. There is good reason for the party's symbol to be the elephant because it tramples all over the citizenry. But this 'investment strategy' works for Republicans and their puppet masters just fine.

Posted by: robert on January 26, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Our global competitors are investing in research and new technologies, superior roads and rail, and making considerable investments in innovative, modern methods of transportation. We could do that here and reap the rewards -- job creation, economic development, cleaner air, less congested roads, better public safety, etc.

This is true, we could do that here, but we likely won't. Things like fixing our infrastructure, high speed rail, cleaner air; all these are things that would actually help people other than those in the GOP's preferred tax bracket, and of course that can't be tolerated. Plus, there's no immediate way for their cronies on Wall Street and the defense contracting racket -- er, "industry," to profit, so the Republicans will oppose any attempts at investment, and the nation will just continue its slow collapse into becoming a third world backwater.

Posted by: electrolite on January 26, 2011 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty funny how closely Benen's opening paragraph describes his dear President.

This sort of thing happens quite often, but partisan sycophants are usually insufficiently intelligent or reflective to notice when they do it.

Posted by: a on January 26, 2011 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Obama should make sure that everytime he mentions investing in our national infrastructure that he links it with homeland security.
"We need to invest in America, invest in our infrastructure, roads and bridges as well as invest in our homeland security."

That way, Republican'ts will be forced to either accept investment at face value or argue against spending on defense.

Posted by: Gridlock on January 26, 2011 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Does Thune own any stocks? Have a retirement plan like an IRA or SEP?

Well, gee, what a waste of money that must have been...?

Posted by: ThatTallGuy on January 26, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe instead of the Republican version of John Edwards, he's the 21st-century version of Dan Quayle?

Posted by: ArlingtonBigFish on January 26, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the real reason, the only reason, Republicans are opposing spending is that they do not want Obama to get credit anywhere, in any part of the country, for making peoples' lives better?

They are willing to sacrifice everyone's well-being to their one political ambition: to regain total power over the government and the economy.

This is reprehensible.

Posted by: jjm on January 26, 2011 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, I think Obama's good looks are inseparable from his personality. He has a winning smile and his body is wiry and agile. And if he's touching up his hair, it's not exactly a vanity crime. That said, I'm not sure he's really igniting this nation's libido.

In 2008, John Edwards was much better looking but I don't recall anyone saying he should be president because of that. Edwards' populism was a tonic to many on the left and it was pretty much the entire basis of his campaign. It's true that a John Thune does get a lot of second looks but we can misattribute those looks to respect. Absent some compelling message apart from those good looks, he has nowhere to go. And since Republicans have a very narrow messaging focus as it is, Thune can't exactly come up with something new. White, mean, and Christian have already been taken.

Posted by: walt on January 26, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

jjm, FTW!

Posted by: Trollop on January 26, 2011 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

We can always hope that Thune is enough like Edwards that he comes with his own self-destruct button.

Posted by: chi res on January 26, 2011 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Lay off this guy. He's just clarifying for his peers that this is the rare kind of "investment" that actually requires someone to spend something, as distinct from the more common, cost-free investments that one gets as part of trust funds and inheritances.

Posted by: Matt on January 26, 2011 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

To the low caliber of republicans these days magical fairies, princes, princesses and leprechauns will make very thing totally awesome.

It really does blow my mind at how little intelligence today's republicans actually possess.

Posted by: Silver Owl on January 26, 2011 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: drive-by troll "a" complains about "partisan sycophants."

Posted by: Gregory on January 26, 2011 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you can see where John Thune is coming from. After all, when you look at South Dakota, you see a land of boundless opportunity due to their incredibly well-developed infrastructure...

Posted by: charles on January 26, 2011 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Real infrastructure investment with defined goals will sell. Obama took at least a rhetorical step in that direction last night. If the GOP thinks they can stretch their semi-effective breast-beating over TARP into opposing real infrastructure improvements in this country, they are going to be rudely awakened in 2012.

That does assume some offset in the form of freezes/cuts to the federal bureaucracy, and Obama is smart to pursue that at the same time.

Posted by: anselm on January 26, 2011 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP riff on spending is so freaking stupid. Imagine what they would have said to Ike in the '50s on his plans for the Interstate system. Of course, THAT hasn't created any wealth or jobs, with its very construction, and the tens of thousands of new businesses it's been creating for the past 55 years, and faster transport of goods.

And as for Thune being handsome? The guy is Lurch! "Urrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ....."

Posted by: Nick in PA on January 26, 2011 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I do have to make one comment. China does need to spend more on infrastructure, than the US, because they have very little internal infrastructure, that's need to increase the standard of living of their rural population. It still is important for us but much more essential
for their progress.

Posted by: Jim Keating on January 26, 2011 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

"After all, when you look at South Dakota, you see a land of boundless opportunity due to their incredibly well-developed infrastructure..."

They just need to capitalize on the popularity of Wall Drug. You know: Wall Drug Village or something. Make it a family destination spot.

Posted by: Dilbat on January 26, 2011 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK
“I think these are interesting times and you always want to look at where you can best serve your country best,” Thune told ABC News.

He probably meant "You always want to look at where you can best serve your country best by besting your opponent and BTW I like the actor James Best."

Posted by: navamske on January 26, 2011 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thune could always make a cameo and play the father of the guy on "Mad Men".

Posted by: max on January 26, 2011 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

And as for Thune being handsome? The guy is Lurch! "Urrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ....."
Posted by: Nick in PA on January 26, 2011 at 4:08 PM
++++++++++

Good try, Nick, but sorry, nope. The "Lurch" prize is wholly owned by John Kerry.

Posted by: mary on January 26, 2011 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

@mary

Good try, Nick, but sorry, nope. The "Lurch" prize is wholly owned by John Kerry.

John Kerry and the tree from "The Wizard of Oz": the same person.

Posted by: navamske on January 26, 2011 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Don't crap all over Edwards, Steve. Sure, he's a world-class jerk in his personal life.

BUT both in 2004 and in 2008, he had the clearest reasons for running, from a policy perspective, of any of the significant Democratic candidates.

I frequently see issues and situations where it would be great to have someone of stature talking about "two Americas." If no one else is going to, I really wish Edwards would come out of hiding and do it himself. Some things are more important than whether you might be embarrassed in public.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 26, 2011 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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