Archive for Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In others’ words: Missing in congress

October 3, 2007

The Lawrence Journal-World said in a recent editorial: While Sen. Sam Brownback is busy running for president, Kansas has lost a big chunk of its representation in the U.S. Senate.

Brownback once again was listed as a no-show at last week's important vote on increased spending for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

As of Sept. 27, Brownback had missed 131 Senate votes during the current Congress, according to washingtonpost.com, which monitors all congressional voting records. That's more than a third of the votes taken.

The votes Brownback did cast likely came mostly in the early days of the session before his presidential campaign kicked into full gear.

In the last couple of months, he's mostly been absent from his Senate duties.

A presidential campaign is, of course, demanding.

By way of comparison, washingtonpost.com gave these statistics for other senators in the race: John McCain has missed 51 percent of the votes; Barack Obama, 25 percent; and Hillary Clinton, 9 percent. The missed votes should bolster the argument for a shorter, defined campaign period.

At this point, Brownback's chances of winning the Republican nomination for president are small.

His presence in the presidential race seems geared mostly toward providing the senator a platform from which to pursue his personal beliefs, which focus heavily on his pro-life philosophy and socially conservative stands. Brownback apparently thinks that is reason enough to continue his presidential bid.

When former Sen. Bob Dole ran for president in 1996, he made the difficult decision to resign from his powerful position as Senate majority leader in order to give his full attention to his presidential bid.

His decision allowed someone else to take over his Senate leadership role and opened the door for the Kansas Gov. Bill Graves to appoint Lt. Gov. Sheila Frahm, to represent the people of Kansas for the rest of Dole's term. Dole's resignation probably was necessary from a political standpoint, but it also showed a real concern for the people of Kansas, who deserve full representation in Congress.

It could be argued that Kansas benefits somewhat from Brownback's campaign, but it's questionable whether that benefit is at all comparable to the need for Kansans to be fully represented in the U.S. Senate.

Brownback is certainly within his rights to pursue his presidential dream, but Kansans also have a right to question Brownback's decision to abandon his Senate duties to pursue what appears to be an unlikely political goal.

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