You might recall him from last week’s outrage of the week — he is the outgoing Senator from Kentucky who fiercely filibustered a bill to extend unemployment benefits to the jobless because it would add to the deficit. This from the man who voted fund two wars on the back of the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich. His message to the hundreds of thousands that would lose benefits? Too fuckin’ bad, freeloaders! He will be signing autographs at the Philadelphia Sports Card & Memorabilia Show. We urge anyone currently collecting to go to the show and get him to sign your unemployment check.
WASHINGTON POST: In his 17 years pitching in the big leagues, Jim Bunning was known for his graceful curveball, his rising slider and his sidearm fastball. Now 78 years old and about to retire from the Senate, the Republican of Kentucky is apparently down to only one pitch: the screwball. For four days, he has been on a one-man campaign to cut off unemployment benefits, kick the unemployed off of health insurance, cut Medicare payments to doctors, deny satellite TV to rural Americans, shut down federal flood insurance and highway projects, and furlough thousands of federal workers. Democrats can hardly believe the gift Bunning has given them by single-handedly shutting down these popular programs. Bunning’s fellow Republicans are aghast. If this were baseball, the Hall of Famer would be on his way down to triple-A. But this is the Senate, where any one of the 100 members has the ability to bring proceedings to a halt, and Bunning continues to hurl his wild pitches. The ornery Kentuckian said he was merely insisting that Congress find a way to pay for the $10 billion, 30-day extension, but that was difficult to square with his recent votes against attempts to rein in debt and spending. This left people puzzling over Bunning’s motives. Was he taking revenge on his senior colleague from Kentucky, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who helped to push Bunning into retirement? Or was he just being, well, crazy? This second possibility cannot be dismissed out of hand. With the Phillies and the Tigers, he had enviable accuracy, boasting one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios. But since his reelection campaign, in 2004, Bunning has had some serious control problems. He said his opponent looked like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. He suggested that he and his wife had been roughed up by “little green doctors” at a political picnic. He refused to debate in person, instead doing so by teleconference from Republican National Committee offices in Washington, where he used a teleprompter. Just over a year ago, Bunning resumed his erratic form when he predicted in public that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would probably be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months. MORE
LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER: As long as Republicans were in charge, Sen. Jim Bunning was OK with trading a surplus for a deficit. He voted to put two wars, tax cuts and a Medicare drug benefit on the nation’s credit card. Now that Republicans are no longer in charge, Bunning is drawing the line on deficit spending. He’s doing it in a way that shows callous contempt for the more than one in 10 working Kentuckians whose jobs disappeared in the economic meltdown. We’ve become accustomed to bizarre, egocentric behavior from Bunning. So it wasn’t all that surprising when he single-handedly blocked an unemployment benefits extension for a million people, including 119,230 in Kentucky, whose benefits run out this year. About 14,000 Kentuckians will exhaust their benefits in two weeks without the extension. Bunning’s filibuster also denies newly laid-off workers help paying for health insurance. It halts road and bridge projects around the country by furloughing 2,000 federal transportation employees, stops reimbursements to state highway programs and cuts Medicare payments to doctors. To those who know him, it’s not surprising that Bunning answered a Democratic colleague’s complaint with a crude profanity. Or that he joked about missing a basketball game while pushing some unemployed Kentuckians into homelessness or bankruptcy. MORE
[Illustration by JAY BEVENOUR]