Tim & Tom Chapter 2

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

As I sit here looking out my window, I see the trees bending over in the cold October wind..trying unsuccessfully to hang on to their dying leaves just a while longer. There’s a steady rain beating against the house. It makes a tapping sound and the droplets are sticking to the glass which can only mean that they are more ice than water. Usually the sight of winter barging in and shoving autumn out of the way gives me the chills and I head over to crank up the thermostat. But this morning, I’m feeling a bit hot under the collar to feel it much.
I see by Hemmingsen’s blog today that he too is feeling a little warm without having to light the fireplace.
The issue, of course, is Senator Tim Johnson’s decision (or his staff’s decision) to duck out of a commitment to be interviewed for last night’s Inside Keloland program. It wasn’t going to be a debate..which Johnson has refused to do..rather he and his senate rival, Joel Dykstra, would each have a half hour, back to back, to answer questions on the issues.  Pressing senate business in Washington was the excuse for the pull-out but no doubt Johnson’s own polls( which the Keloland/Argus Leader polls confirm) show that he’s going to win this election in a route without ever having to look his opponent square in the eye much less argue issues on a public platform. The only thing such exposure would do is call even more attention to the fact that Tim Johnson’s ability to articulate has been severely curtailed since his brain hemorrhage nearly two years ago.  
Like Steve, I’m only sharing some personal feelings here and in no way endorsing anybody or suggesting how you should vote.
I would just like to know, once and for all, is Tim Johnson himself in charge and up to the job?
Senator Johnson has always been a smart guy and he more than anyone knows the real value of speaking out on issues from the senate floor, convincing colleagues to side with him to get bills pushed through the legislative process..or even to meet and greet constituents who  come to call in Washington. I dunno, maybe it’s not all that important.
There is such a thing as “South Dakota Nice” and I’m glad we are that way. But if Senator Johnson is reelected to another term just because it would be insensitive not to..well..six years is a long time..especially if his staff is doing most of the talking.  Now, see, I feel bad about even saying that…especially after writing this shortly after Tim’s injury.
8 years ago, my younger brother, Tom, was jogging alone in a park near his home in rural New Jersey when he collapsed. Fortunately someone saw him go down and called for help. Tom, a Continental Airlines captain, had suffered a brain aneurism. He died and was revived by paramedics in the ambulance..then underwent brain surgery the next day. The odds were not good but he survived the operation and to everyone’s surprise and relief, began improving right away. One of his first concerns was..would he ever fly again?  Tom was determined.. but he would have to pass an endless battery of mental and physical tests first. Failure on any of them would be unacceptable. No matter how much he loved flying or how terrible everyone felt about what happened..his career as a pilot would be over.  Tom understood that and would never put the lives of passengers at risk if he wasn’t 100 percent back and fully capable of performing his duties. 
It took a year of hard work and worry but not only was he reinstated by Continental Airlines..but has since been cleared to fly larger aircraft on international flights.
Sadly, recovery for Senator Johnson hasn’t been as quick or complete as it was for my brother. Can he still be an effective U.S. Senator? I guess we’re going to find out. But the fact that this close to the election he passes on a free opportunity to be seen and heard by tens of thousands of South Dakota voters in prime time…well, it’s frustrating that he’s a no-show and, for Tim, very uncharacteristic which makes me wonder who’s really running things now.

Leave a Reply