Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) suffered some kind of brain hemorrhage yesterday that resulted from a congenital condition (see here). The 59-year-old senator has spent his life in politics, but he seems to be a behind-the-scenes worker that doesn’t seek out the limelight. He underwent emergency brain surgery late yesterday and is currently in critical condition.
While this type of news would normally be greeted with an outpouring of empathy, the media and political buzzards are circling this suffering man in hopes of grabbing up juicy morsels of carrion. The reason? The Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority in the incoming 110th Congress.
If Senator Johnson is no longer able to serve, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, who is Republican, would appoint a replacement, who would almost certainly be Republican as well. That would make the partisan split in the U.S. Senate 50-50. Since Vice President Dick Cheney casts the deciding vote in such cases (per the Constitution), the Republicans would retain their majority in the Senate.
Let me stipulate that I am a registered Republican. I would very much have liked to see the GOP retain control of one or both houses of Congress, but that’s not how the electorate voted. The spoils go to the victors, and that is as it should be. But we are a nation of laws. We have rules to govern what should happen in cases when an elected official can no longer serve, and those rules should be followed, even if the result seems ironically unfair in the short term.
However, the sick media and political drama surrounding Senator Johnson’s health condition is contemptible at best. Regardless of one’s partisan leanings, we should all hope (and pray, if you’re religious) for the best for this man and his family out of the goodness of our hearts. Besides, if he recovers enough to continue his service, the whole partisan question will be avoided and the media sickos can go back to obsessing about Brittany Spears’ love life.