Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Closet

Kevin Woster tripped my trigger with his Politics in Keloland blog post on his recent breakfast club meeting with Larry Pressler.

Thanks Kevin for the spark and the opportunity to bolt on to your post. Kevin crafts a great story and having him still contributing to recording and explaining the fabric of South Dakota is a big plus for our shared culture. Thanks KELO for making a very smart move snapping Kevin up when he separated from the RC Journal.

Larry Pressler should not need an introduction to SD Political readers but just a few highlights. Larry Pressler was first elected in the post Watergate election on 1974 (forty years ago). He served 2 terms in the U S House and then 3 terms in the U S Senate (defeating Don Barnett, George Cunningham, and Ted Muenster). He was defeated in 1996 by Tim Johnson. Pressler again ran in 2002 for the U S House seat that was won by Bill Janklow who went on to defeat Stephanie Herseth.

Pressler has a sterling resume. Among his vitae, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law School, first Viet Nam veteran to serve in the U S Senate, 22 years service in the U S Congress. Senator Pressler as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee also oversaw the rewriting of the mega important Telecommunications Act. He also did extensive work on the Under the Sea Treaty. For a little spice, if you are a little interested Google (the verb) Pressler Abscam investigation and (Google again) Pressler amendment.

Larry Pressler is a complex personality, always has been. For over a decade he was the Champion for Senior Citizens and owned their votes. I have often thought that Larry Pressler possesses somewhat of a split personality (never quite certain which Larry Pressler he is); The United States Senator who is just a farm boy destined to be the Champion for Agriculture or The United States Senator who is an Academic (Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law) destined be a University President or Ambassador to the U N or some important nation. BTW Pressler was briefly a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1980.

Despite Kevin’s claims about the Janklow camp in South Dakota (I think I might have been on the Board of Directors), there has never been any report by someone who witnessed the man behind the door story. Where I agree with Kevin, Pressler often acts like the absent-minded professor. 

In my recent StraightTalk blog post,I noted that Pressler is simply past prime time, though he in his own way will bring value to the fall’s campaign, i.e. the debates.

Larry Pressler literally bumped into me a month or so ago at the wellness center. I, barely clothed in a towel after showering was getting dressed and Larry Pressler who was walking about holding his locker key and looking for his locker. At that point it was a classic absent-minded professor scene.

I had not engaged with Larry Pressler for 12 years. I acknowledged and greeted him as he did me. The encounter was pleasant. At this point very similar to Kevin’s breakfast, just a couple of old war horses doing some reverie about past encounters. He said he reads my blog and was complimentary (at that point I hadn’t posted in 5 months.) I appreciated his compliment. I acknowledged he was again a candidate, and he jumped right in talking about his campaign.

He then in about 60 seconds told me that health care affordability was a big problem and that as he campaigned people were telling him that. He said that Obamacare was not going to be repealed and needed fixing (a very pragmatic view in my opinion). He then offered what seemed to be the developing Pressler solution. Why couldn’t we (he suggested), have health care delivered through cooperatives, like the Farmer’s Coops? Profits would not be retained by for profit health providers or non-profit health providers but instead by the cooperative’s members?

My purpose isn’t to pass judgment on his evolving health care proposal but rather to compliment someone for having one.  Disclaimer: I am not supporting Larry Pressler, past prime time, and supported Barack Obama in both his elect and re elect campaigns. While I appreciate his effort to reach across the aisle, for those endorsements alone, I cannot support him.

The 2014 campaign in the GOP primary so far has been five candidates not talking about making anything better. No new ideas, no policy proposals, no nothing. They are to varying degrees angry birds.  Just Shouting! Angry, more angry, and pissed off! ? “I love guns more than you.” “I hate Obamacare more than you.” “I am more conservative (says me) than you.”

Senator Pressler is out of the closet (if he was ever in one) talking about effecting change. It is time for the other candidates to come out of their closets and tell us how they are going to make America better.