Today’s stories are focused squarely on news from the U.S. Senate…read on!
1. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii Dies – While most of you likely do not know this name, this Democratic senator from the Aloha state was, until his death yesterday, the longest-serving Senator currently in office (and 2nd all-time only to the deceased Sen. Robert Byrd, also a Democrat, of West Virginia). I must admit that until his death yesterday, I also knew very little of this history-making man.
First of all…he was the first person of Japanese-American descent to serve in the House of Representatives and later, the U.S. Senate. For this reason alone, he deserves a storied place in American political history. What will our children and grandchildren think of stats like this when they are adults? As they grow into their lives in a more multi-cultural, blended society, will records such as these pretty much cease to exist? Ah, but I digress…
Secondly, Sen. Inouye also made his mark as a Medal of Honor winning soldier for America in World War II. In fact, it was this conflict that lead to the loss of his right arm while in combat. Take a quick look at this piece from his obituary, which just ran in Hawaii’s Star-Advertiser newspaper. It tells of the event that lead to him losing his right arm all those years ago:
“In northern Italy in April 1945 as the war in Europe was coming to an end, Inouye moved his platoon against German troops near San Terenzo. Inouye crawled up a slope and tossed two hand grenades into a German machine-gun nest. He stood up with his tommy gun and raked a second machine-gun nest before being shot in the stomach. But he kept charging until his right arm was hit by an enemy rifle grenade and shattered.”
“I looked at it, stunned and disbelieving. It dangled there by a few bloody shreds of tissue, my grenade still clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore,” Inouye wrote in his 1967 autobiography, “Journey to Washington,” written with Lawrence Elliott.
“Inouye wrote that he pried the grenade out of his right hand and threw it at the German gunman, who was killed by the explosion. He continued firing his gun until he was shot in the right leg and knocked down the hillside. Badly wounded, he ordered his men to keep attacking and they took the ridge from the enemy.”
Whether you are someone who agrees with Democratic politics or not (if you’re reading this post, I’m sure you do!), this man was nothing short of a true American hero.
2. Representative Tim Scott Chosen as Jim DeMint Successor – Don’t know either of these names? Fear not!! TheLeftyWolfe is here to fill you in because these names should definitely be on your radar right now as we turn our attention to my old stomping grounds (and home state where I was born and raised)…South Carolina!
For those who really follow politics in the nation’s capital, you may already be aware of the fact that Jim DeMint, the controversial, Tea Party-loving junior Senator from SC, recently announced his retirement (after barely serving one full term in the Senate, no less!). While he has only been in office for a short period of time, Jim DeMint has become quite the powerful guy in the Senate and in conservative circles nationwide. As one of the more popular faces of the Tea Party (which, in my opinion, is about two or three years away from extinction), DeMint rose to national prominence during the 2010 midterm elections when he backed several high-profile conservatives to victory over establishment Republicans. He is a prolific fundraising machine and, for someone with such little experience, a man to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill. He is also famous for bucking his own Republican leadership, going so far as to calling John Boehner’s debt-reduction plan something that would “destroy American jobs.”
It’s likely no wonder, then, that DeMint has chosen to step aside from the politics of Capitol Hill and focus his energies somewhere he believes he can be a more forceful power. His next move? DeMint has recently accepted a job as the head of the Heritage Foundation, one of the most conservative political action organizations in the nation (www.heritage.org).
As DeMint prepares to leave the Senate, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, also a Republican, is in charge of selecting someone to fill his seat until a special election can be held. So…who did Haley choose?…U.S. Representative Tim Scott, a two-term congressman who just so happens to also be a rising Tea Party star himself. “OK“, you might be thinking to yourself right now. “Why is this news????” Well, this story caught my attention because Rep. Scott is an African-American man. With his appointment to DeMint’s seat, Scott will become the only black person currently serving in the Senate and only the second black Senator from the South since Reconstruction (just after the Civil War). WOW!! That’s pretty heavy stuff.
As happy as I am that there will soon be someone of color in the Senate, a part of me is a bit skeptical about it all. Did the Republican powers-that-be choose Scott as DeMint’s replacement because they really like the guy or because of the color of his skin? I ask this question for a very specific reason. Just after Obama won the 2008 election (becoming our first minority President), the GOP very quickly decided to name Michael Steele, also an African-American, as the leader of the Republican party. At the time, it seemed to many (including myself) nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to John McCain’s huge loss at the polls. Is this just more of the same? I hate to say it, but I believe that it is.
Just think about the election we finished last month. The GOP went out of their way to let the American public know just what they think about minorities. People like Mitt Romney made snide remarks about those receiving welfare and how they supposedly choose to vote, while others in the Republican party went on wildly inappropriate rants about Hispanics and immigration. Going a step further, powerful GOP governors across the nation made it incredibly more difficult for the young and minorities to vote by passing restrictive voting laws that disproportionately affected Democratic voters (and we still won!!!…woohoo!!). In fact, in one of my recent posts, I told the story of how the Republican leadership in the House of Reps recently chosen only white men (with one exception for a white woman) to serve as leaders of the various House committees…which is where the real power resides in the House.
So…for the SC governor to choose this man for a place in the Senate…it seems just a bit too calculating for my taste, especially when she says that his appointment is nothing short of “historic.” As much as I would love to believe in the inherent goodness of conservative leaders in this great nation of ours, recent history tells me that this decision was meant to do nothing more than attempt to show America how inclusive and forward-thinking Republicans can be. Let’s hope America doesn’t fall for this crap shot! Until the GOP decides to do more than just appoint someone to a Senate seat, one can only view this news from a skeptic’s viewpoint. As soon as I see Republican support for things like fair immigration laws, marriage equality and legislation that makes it EASIER for citizens to vote, I will reconsider my notion of what the Republican party stands for. Not, though, a moment before.