Friday, March 6, 2009

Republicans Look for a Reliever in Kentucky

Senator Jim Bunning has a focus on economic issues, but his demeanor sometimes draws more attention than his positions.

“When you’ve dealt with Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Stan Musial,” he said, “the people I’m dealing with now are kind of down the scale.”

One of the entrenched narratives in American politics is the case of the guy who refuses to quit, even though a lot of people on his own team want him gone.

While the Democrats are preoccupied with Senator Roland W. Burris and his ties to a tainted Illinois governor, the Republicans are trying to rid themselves of Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, the former baseball star who clearly has little use for some colleagues and party leaders, and who keeps exhibiting what one senator calls “behavior issues.”

I remember hearing that he was considered the stupidest Senator.

Key Republicans are gently (or not gently enough) trying to dissuade Mr. Bunning from seeking re-election in 2010 out of concern that his paltry fund-raising, declining approval ratings and irascible conduct have made him something between vulnerable and unelectable.

But in recent weeks, Mr. Bunning has shown no sign of stepping aside and delivered a string of incendiary pronouncements that have fed an impression that he is, to go with a baseball metaphor, a bit of a screwball.

If not stupid, weird, for sure.

In 2006, Time magazine named him one of the five worst senators in the country.

Well, there are four others, so he can take some solace for that.

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