Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harkin Gets HELP

U. S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will chair the late Ted Kennedy's Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Harkin is giving up his Ag committee chores, shedding no tears; he's always considered Ag one of those "take a deep breath" duties to Iowa since 1975 — a task he's performed honorably and well. Simple seniority has put him in the right place at the right time to carry health reform forward, and that is a role he'll regard as the capstone of his career, if he pulls it off. Harkin regards health issues with a deep, personal and abiding passion.

On the other side of the aisle, I'm hearing the first rumblings from the hustings that maybe Chuck Grassley has lost it and begun to dodder a bit in his old age.

Grassley can't have it both ways. Either he's a country lawyer on the Hill, or he's Elmer Fudd pulling fantastic twaddle out of his ass for the folks back home. For years, he couldn't afford to let on that he actually had brains — us bumpkins would nod knowingly to each other and say, "You know, he's smarter than he looks!" — but then Republicans won a Senate majority a few years ago and gave him R-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y.

Now that Grassley's got brains (and, brother, nothing succeeds like letting the cat out of a bag it was never in), he can't afford to let on that they're about as scrambled as a country breakfast at the old tractor pull — where anyone with a camera in their phone is a YouTube journalist to document it. If he wants it both ways, his days on that lunch stool at the A&K diner are just about up.

(Just remembered. The A&K, a nice Mom and Pop Greek restaurant about four blocks from the Capital back in the day, is no more.)

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