This week I've watched excerpts of two speeches from U.S. senators, each of whom I have met briefly and whose careers I've followed over the years. One is noted for speaking in a stentorian orational style that is off-putting to some people (I'm one) because it seems affected. The other is noted for having a quiet, deliberate style of speaking, when he speaks at all. The first was one of my own senators, Larry Craig of Idaho, explaining at an outdoor podium in Boise that he did nothing wrong and wasn't gay after pleading guilty to soliciting sex in a Minneapolis airport restroom (YouTube clip). The second was Sen. Tim Johnson, who had emergency surgery in December after suffering a stroke-like episode from malformed blood vessels in his brain and nearly tipping the balance of power in the Senate. Johnson, who will be returning to his Senate office after Labor Day, gave an interview to Bob Woodruff (himself recovered from severe brain injury) on ABC's "Nightline" (YouTube clips of him this week and in better times).
Johnson and I are the same age and went to high school in nearby towns in South Dakota. He played basketball for Vermillion High School (my ex- was a classmate) and unless my own brain is playing tricks on me, I can still remember his unusually bright red face running up and down the court in a game against Beresford circa 1964. We are both graduates of Doc Farber's Government Department at the University of South Dakota (Tom Brokaw is another), though he was already in law school by the time I enrolled as a freshman after Air Force service. So for these small personal connections, it was wonderful, not to mention emotional, to see him coming back from what could have been for him and his family the ultimate disaster. Welcome back, Tim! --Dennis