Argus Letter to the Editor: Johnson's condition more serious than we're being told

The Letters to the Editor page in the Argus today contained one of the first public criticisms of Senator Tim Johnson or his staff for their handling of Senator Johnson's debilitating medical condition:

We have been assured that things are on the mend with Johnson. If that is the case, the senator might consider a news conference or an occasional press release to assure those of us who are represented by him that he is in fact on the road back to productivity.

My suspicion is that the senator's condition is much more serious than he or his staff has seen fit to admit. This South Dakotan is not comfortable when elected officials put themselves and their ideology above the best interest of those they represent.

Read it all here.

This is a tough one to comment one, because I think the author (Randy Amundson) comes off as harsh, and maybe a bit insensitive. But on the other hand, a few points he tries to make are valid.

The Senator is very ill, and has a long road ahead of him. That's generally accepted. But there's also the view that continues to gain momentum that we're not getting the full story. The senator's staff ekes out bits and pieces here and there regarding his condition, but otherwise there is this huge void of information that people will seek to fill with rumor and conjecture.

Equally fueling the fire is the fact that the state press corps' usual demand for openness and full accountability for our elected officials seems to have evaporated in this case.

Absent full transparency, this letter to the editor may just the first one we'll see. And they'll continue to grow in number until such a time as the Senator returns to work.


Anonymous said…
Who is Randy Amundson. Is he a professional thinker and a writer? If so, when is he going to start earning his paycheck? That column isn't worth a plug nickel.
Anonymous said…
Well, a quick google search doesn't come up with any professional writers. He's probably just citizen that's pointing out a rather obvious question. He's certainly not the only one wondering when, or if, the Senator will be able to resume his duties.
Anonymous said…
Finally, the dam breaks...someone actually writes what everyone is thinking. As much as I hate to admit it, the Argus does deserve credit for publishing the article. Kranz is saying the same thing in private consversations, but he's too gutless to put it in print.
Anonymous said…
this whole episode has been one long, sad case of the liberals in the press not wanting to jeopardize a liberal Democratic Senator's seat in Congress. maybe now they will actually start to scrutinize what is going on. South Dakota is too small of a state not to have all its representatives in Washington working. Please take note that the first commenter here starts by attacking the messenger, which is sad.
Anonymous said…
Does anybody that is so concerned about not knowing the full story about Johnson remember how long the late senator Mundt was off the Senate floor?
Anonymous said…
8:17, typical Dem response to this. The way Mundt's situation was handled was wrong, and it is wrong now. Two wrongs do not make a right. I commend the writer, whoever he is, for saying what many are thinking.
Anonymous said…
Who cares Mundt how long didn't represent his state.

That certainly doesn't make it right to Johnson to try and hang on to his seat for his kid.

If the Senator is getting better, great, let's have some interviews so the citizens of South Dakota can see for themselves instead of the spin being put out by his staff.

I say if Johnson can go back to work full time by the end of the year, he deserves our patience, if he can't, he should resign now and let someone actually represent our interest in DC.
Anonymous said…

The dam breaks?

What's that all about? A final admission that the Repubs have been licking their chops about this all along but just finally got the guts to say so? What a bunch of phoneys!

You can't say what you don't know. People recovering from a stroke just don't know. Neither do their doctors. Only God does.

So why not just keep praying for Tim and keep your mouths shut? By God's grace you Republicans voted him in (heaven knows there weren't enough Dems in SD to get the job done) and he beat Thune, for Christ sake! So leave it to the Lord, you turkeys. He works in mysterious ways. I thought you already knew that.

Your answer will come in good time, just like the rapture. So meanwhile, how about a nice six pack of shut the ***k up?
Anonymous said…
the liberals conveniently forget that Johnson did not "beat" Thune but had to steal enough votes to get into office...he stole a Senate seat and is now a vegetable...he has about as little legitmacy as any politician anywhere
Anonymous said…
It is in BAD TASTE to use fowl words and the name of the Lord don't you think!!

Well, at least I do.

As for Sen Johnson I wish him well. No, people are correct that we don't know about how this will all trun out. THe doctors have a better idea and yes things can improve and yes things could slip backwards.
I would say in my huble opinion only non professional that Sen Johnson is unbale to speak good enough and it may be hard. I would say that maybe his moveablility is very limited, weak and takes lots of thought. I am sure that he gets very tired and quickly. I bet for the most part this is to be expected.
However, people still have the right to know.
Sen Johnson may come out this completely or he could have side effects that last forever or for a short time. THe doctors are the only ones who can give a clear possible sernaro.
Anonymous said…
the reason the Democrats and the press must keep Johnson in office is so that he can run out the clock to help his son take over his senate seat without any GOP opposition...they are manipulating people's sympathy
Anonymous said…
Oh, this is just great, PP, here it comes! And you get to have all the first hand evidence of how crass and gross the SD Repubs really are! I'm of course copying this to an offline site for later exploitation.

Anonymous said…
... puss out of a bad wound...
Anonymous said…
The noble and correct thing for Tim to do is resign. If he cared about his state he would resign. If and when he recovers enough to serve then he can run again.
Of course, in politics the noble and correct thing, the best thing for the state, is seldom the first thought. We see Sen. Johnson's true character clearly coming through here.
PP said…
9:28, I don't know if amundson is Republican, Democrat or libertarian. So, unless you have a voter registration database in front of you, I think that's an unfounded statement.
Anonymous said…
I'll give you 2 to one odds against a $5 bet, PP.
Are you on?
Anonymous said…
the poor guy will get attacked for making an obvious point about the Dems' Weekend at Bernie's routine and that's why people have been afraid to speak out until now. The truly despicable people at work are the Democrats who are hiding behind the sympathy and good will of the people while they carry out this charade and farce on the naive public
Anonymous said…
Amundson just pointed out what most of us have been thinking but have been too “politically correct” to articulate, although it is high time the issue was brought to the forefront.

If Johnson is physically and mentally unable to perform his Senate duties for the people of South Dakota, I want to know about it. If he’s unfit to serve, the law may not require his resignation, but common decency does.

Evidently his son is going along with this charade and that lets us know that his integrity isn’t any better than his father’s. It’s time that the Johnson name fades away into political history.
Stacie said…
A couple of comments to think about:

For those of you that haven't studied the Senate or the Congress in general, formally or informally, please allow me to let you in on a little secret. The Representatives and Senators that we represent are not the only people doing work on Capitol Hill. Fact is that each one of the people that we elect has a large number of people working for them. Its true for Senator Johnson, its true for Speaker Pelosi, its true for Republican Leader McConnell... and every other republican and democrat in the House of Representatives and the Senate. These staff members (and Interns) are the ones that receieve constituent mail, respond to constituent mail, write memos, help staff from other members' offices to draft legislation, set up committee meetings, etc. Yes, the member of congress does have to approve of most of these actions, but the majority of the actual work of the US Congress is done by staffers. It is true that Members must attend committee meetings and vote on the Senate Floor, their staff cannot do that for them. Heck, even with the invention of the auto-pen... many of the documents with a member's signature on it doesn't actually get signed by the member. I have faith that the staff of the Johnson team can adequately represent the interests of the South Dakota population in the halls of the Senate, getting all necessary approval from the Senator. As far as votes in Committee and on the Senate floor. I challenge someone to show me a vote while Senator Johnson has been ill that would have had the outcome changed if Tim would have voted. Because in my study of the Senate, noting comes to mind.

A second thought: If the Republicans got their way and Senator Johnson resigned, what would that mean for SD representation? It would mean that we had NO ONE, not even those great Johnson staffers, in the halls of the Senate working for our interests (not counting Thune) until Governor Rounds appointed someone and they were able to get their new staff to Washington. There would then be a transition period while no one on staff knows their way, phyically or legislatively, around the Senate. The clout that Senator Johnson holds on the Appropriations Committee would be lost (because let's be honest, no no-name from SD is going to get on that committee as an appointed Senator). So essentially, until this new appointee got settled, SD would be worse off than we currently are.

I agree that I would love to hear more about Senator Johnson's condition. However, I don't think its valid to say that we are not being adequately represented in the meantime. I also find the idea of resignation to have no merit.
Anonymous said…
11:10 thanks it is NOT like some of us don't know how things work in DC.
But your comments are off mark and there is great merit in some of the statements!
Anonymous said…
Thanks Julianne Fisher & Co. for that comment (11:10). Us hicks out here in the boondocks don't got no idea of what goes on in the big city.
Angie said…
Thanks Stacie!

I agree, it's not like work isn't being done on important issues that affect South Dakota. More importantly, didn't we learn our lesson about not getting rid of our clout when we voted Tom Daschle out of office?
Anonymous said…
Big we go again. No one outside of South Dakota ever heard of Senator Johnson until he became ill and Harry Reid panicked. That's real clout, eh? Anybody who gets the job, including his son, would stsart from scratch. And let's talk about clout and Daschle and Thune and Ellsworth. The Pentagon was talking about axing Ellsworth a YEAR before they did it and Daschle either didn't know or could do nothing to stop it (which is worse, I don't know). There are plenty of independent people who will admit that Thune through sheer hard work had more to do with keeping Ellsworth off the chopping block than any other elected officeholder. You opened up the "clout" door, Big Liberal. Now you can close it, if you are honest.
Angie said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Brendan Johnson, the prince in waiting, is even more sleazy that father, who probably has no idea what is going on...remember what a hack and manipulating opportunist Brendan Johnson is, because he's going to run for office VERY soon. He's already telling people his plan.
Anonymous said…
At least the photo of Tim smiling while holding the paper was planned enough that the paper was right side up. My lord, please hire someone w/some PR skills, you are killing yourself. Corzine is on TV, why aren't you?
PP said…
Guys, with some of the anonymous comments here, it really makes me start to think twice about requiring registration.

If you're going to make comments, using your own name at least adds SOMETHING to the conversation besides static.
Anonymous said…
All you need to know is that "Clean Cut Kid" (Daschle and Johnson staffer) is attacking people for raising this topic...that's because the plan is to stall stall stall and make it impossible for the Republicans to even field a decent candidate. NOW WHO IS MANIPULATING THE SITUATION AND ABUSING PEOPLE'S SYMPATHY? It's the same old Daschle/Johnson crew doing the same old thing. Pathetic. This is why reporters are living in fear of writing the obvious--they know the likes of Schuldt will smear them.
Anonymous said…
I'm not a GOPer, but i tend to agree that it's time for the Johnson office to come clean
Anonymous said…
"didn't we learn our lesson about not getting rid of our clout when we voted Tom Daschle out of office?" - a_big_liberal

One of the best things South Dakota ever did was "Dump Daschle". Yes, he is smart, crafty & could hold his caucus together but he's also calculating, insincere and more interested in HIS best interests than those of his consituents, or the country as a whole.

I no longer have to explain to friends from out of state how we managed to keep a national embarrassment like him in office. I suspect Senator Reid may find the honorable folks in Nevada feel the same way in his next election.

Partisanship is NOT Statesmanship and too many people on both sides of the aisle need to remember that!
Anonymous said…
Why is everyone all of a sudden saying Johnson's son is heir apparent to Johnson's seat if he doesn't run? What has Brendan done that makes him the likely candidate?

Johnson will never step down. Reid and Pelosi et al won't let him. They are relying on the niceness of the SD people to not demand it. Until it's too late to appoint someone else.

This whole process needs to be revamped. In what other jobs does an employer hold a job for an employee who is ill without said employee honestly communicating with the employer about his status? Only in politics. It wasn't right for Mundt, and it's not right for Johnson.

If Johnson is truly improving, then why not let him tell us so. If not, it's time for a new voice.
Anonymous said…
not only is Johnson completely incapable of actually doing any work, don't forget that he stole his Senate seat in the first place

Best wishes to Tim, but let's move on...
Anonymous said…
Come on guys. A pale immitation of the mean-spirited character assasination Karl Rove and his Republican Party crew specialize in just will not get you into their club. Don't hold back. So him what you have got. Rather than simply cast doubt on Senator Johnson as he recovers from his illness and Brendon Johnson, as he supports his father's effort, why not demean Senator Johnson's wife too. And, don't forget his Iraqi veteran son, or his daughters, or his grandchildren. Karl and the President will surely recognize your value then. And he will gladly let you ball up in the special little viper pit they keep around for convenience. Until then keep practicing your vituperation. It fits the Republican Party well.
PP said…
Guys, one democratic official explained it to me in an analogy to the Mickelson plane tragedy - no one was using the occasion to conspire for political gain. They're were (and in this case are) just trying to get through the day, and to see what the next day brings.

I have no reason to believe that's wrong. (and I think the attacks on Brendan and other family members are in really poor taste.)

But my point was (and is) that at times, from his staff, we have a lack of information. And from time to time, what little is provided has a sense of DC spin on it.

The Family can be as tight lipped as they want. I know I might be myself if I were in the same position.

But, when it comes to his staff, transparency would serve everyone the best. Otherwise (as I previously noted) the main source of information will continue to be guessing.

I think we can draw a difference between private family information, and the interaction his staff has with the public and political process.
Anonymous said…
Well as usual the anoymous writers have gonads the size of bb's. Why don't you sleaze bags have the guts to sign you sorry a-- name?

On the serious side when Mundt did it was wrong, and it is wrong today for Senator Johnson's staff to withhold all information concerning Senator Johnson's health.

I find it completely in character for the Argus Liar to go to court for the names of those taking part in the Governor's hunt but to be completely silent on requesting information on Senator Johnson's condition.

I ask all who read this to continue to pray for Senator Johnson's complete recovery.

Jerry Apa

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