Could Sen. Jim Bunning's desire to pay for extended unemployment benefits with stimulus funds be the result of a serious mental disorder? So suggested Rachel Maddow during her show last night. Maddow based her report on unfouded allegations from a liberal newspaper, and neglected to mention the numerous unstable congressional Democrats that have come unhinged from time to time.
Maddow noted that "even his hometown newspaper has at times questioned his mental fitness," and quoted the Louisville Courier Journal, which in October 2004 asked, "Is his increasing belligerence an indication of something worse? Has [he] drifted into territory that indicates a serious health concern?"
Of course Maddow neglected to mention that Bunning's doctor at the time said his health was "excellent". His campaign manager said the Courier-Journal was spreading false accusations to damage Bunning's election prospects "because he's not a liberal." A political press? Never! (Clips from Maddow's show below the fold - h/t Brian Maloney.)
In fact, the Courier-Journal simply speculated about Bunning's mental health, and challenged him to refute the speculation--a tried and true tactic of politically interested parties trying to dislodge a campaign. The paper wrote (according to a Nexis search):
...the outrageous statements he has made in his rare public appearances are giving voters pause. They are raising questions about Sen. Bunning's suitability for office. Is he, as he ages, just becoming a more concentrated version of himself: more arrogant, more prickly? Certainly that would be a normal occurrence. Or is his increasing belligerence an indication of something worse? Has Sen. Bunning drifted into territory that indicates a serious health concern?
There is, of course, an easy way for Sen. Bunning to end what has become national speculation about his fitness. He could call press conferences throughout the state, stand before the public and say, 'Here I am. Ask me questions. You'll see how fit I am.' Successful, reasonable public interaction would be far more reassuring than statements from doctors that his blood pressure and cholesterol are OK.
Maddow didn't note the paper's apparent liberal slant, nor did she see fit to mention the numerous congressional Democrats in the news lately that have, during their careers, come a bit unhinged.
Like, say, former Ways and Means Chairman (for a day) Pete Stark, who told a constituent at a town hall meeting last fall that he "wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn't be worth wasting the urine."
Baffled constituents were left wondering what Stark could possibly be saving his urine for. But I digress.
Stark is also renowned for taking to the House floor to accuse President Bush and the Republican Party of sending young Americans to Iraq to die for the president's amusement.
That one would be just as comical if the subject matter were not so grave and the accusations not so sinister.
The "Democratic Legislators Gone Wild" series also includes Al Franken barking like a dog, and Alan Grayson telling Dick Cheney to "STFU" and claiming that Republicans want Americans to "die quickly."
Amazingly, none of these departures from normalcy seem to have attracted Maddow's attention. Then again, she works with Keith Olbermann so perhaps her sense for such things is a bit off.