December 15, 2006
The brevity of political life in Washington has been exposed with stroke-like symptoms that has afflicted Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota.
At first, spokespeople for the senator denied he had experienced a stroke, but the medical evidence and a tape of the senator during an interview showed him slow of speech. Doctors say he has been afflicted with the malady that led to his problem since childhood.
Aside from this mattering a great deal to Johnson, his family, friends and those who voted for him, there is always the political effect. If Johnson were not able to serve in the senate for whatever reason, South Dakota’s republican governor would name a replacement who would serve until the 2008 election. If that happened, the senate would again be split 50-50 with republicans in charge of all committees, including judiciary, and Vice President Cheney casting tie-breaker votes.
Other senators have refused to resign their seats, though incapacitated, and democrats may hope if Johnson cannot recover full health that he will hold on to his seat. We’ll know soon. Meanwhile, pray for Senator Johnson and his family.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.