View Full Version : So what kind of a Senator is Strom Thurmond?
12-12-2000, 11:47 AM
The guy's in his late 90's. (Fill in "he's so old..." joke here.) Every now and then I read something in Newsweek or whatever that his handlers are basically wheeling him around and propping him up. Is this true? Is he really that out of touch, or is it a case of an aged body failing a still-sharp mind? What exactly does he do in the Senate? Yes, I know, he's the President Pro Tempore, and he's on the Armed Services, Judiciary, and Veterans' Affairs committees (among other activities), but how effective is he, really? What legislation has he written and/or sponsored? And if he really is the doddering fogey people keep accusing him of being, how on earth does he get re-elected, beyond pure intertia or bald-faced big-money sponsorship? You'd think someone could mount a successful campaign against him. What am I missing?
12-12-2000, 11:53 AM
Remember that Simpsons episode when Burns goes through his stocks and finds "Confederate Slave Holdings"? I think that Strom has some of those kicking around also. How can a guy that is (how old is he exactly?) 95+ be anything but out of touch?
12-12-2000, 11:54 AM
Basically, over the last few years, Senator Thurmond has become the ultimate sock puppet. His aides and staff do 99% of his job for him, and he is literally whieeled around and propped up to do their bidding.
As to why he's still in office: 1., he hasn't died yet, and 2., he brings lots and lots of pork home to South Carolina.
12-12-2000, 11:55 AM
Senator Thurmond has a reputation for being a pretty smart guy when it comes to policy-making. Of course, alot of Democrats disagree with his comservative stances, but I have yet to hear any senator from either party disrepect him like people do to Gore and Bush.
12-12-2000, 11:57 AM
I'd like for you guys to support these assertions, if possible. I just heard John McCain claim that he's pretty sharp.
12-12-2000, 12:01 PM
Strom is OK by me.
As Saltire pointed out in this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=49480), Strom shares a birthday with me and Zenith. :D
12-12-2000, 12:07 PM
I heard on the radio as Thurmond opened the Impeachment Trial of President Clinton. He was supposed to be saying
"The Senate'll be in order,"
but his voice is so slurred he could only drawl,
"Semm me awwwww."
He's basically lost most of his consonants.
12-12-2000, 12:20 PM
This was before most of us were born, but in 1948 the Southern Democrats revolted against President Truman's civil rights platform at the convention. So they nominated their own "States' Rights" presidential candidate. Guess who that was. None other than Strom Thurmond, the standard bearer of Jim Crow.
When Nixon converted the formerly "solid South" from Democrat to Republican, he was exploiting the racism of the anti-civil rights "states' rights" bloc. It had been prefigured by the Dixiecrats in '48. That's when Strom went Republican. And they have the nerve to keep calling themselves the "party of Lincoln." They're now the party of the Ku Klux Klan, thanks to Nixon and Thurmond.
12-12-2000, 12:33 PM
Thanks for the replies so far. The history is very interesting, but interpretation of a career arc lends itself to subjective analysis, which threatens to prematurely send this thread to GD. That's fine in the long run, but before that happens I'd really like objective information about Senator Thurmond's present-day performance in his office. So don't think I'm uninterested in what people believe about Thurmond's role in history; please just hold off for a little while. 'Kay? :D
12-12-2000, 12:35 PM
I personally spoke to Senator Thurmond in July of 1999, sixteen months ago. While I certainly make room for the possibility that he has declined greatly since then, I found him to be alert, knowledgeable, and well-aware of the subject under discussion -- provisions in the HAC language for computer security requirements in Department of Defense computers open to the Internet -- that did not appear in the Senate version of the same bill.
His speech is slurred to some extent, but he was quite capable of explaining what his position would be, and why he was advocating it. He was admittedly not highly technical, referring me to a member of his staff for the technical portions, but he obviously grasped some very non-trivial issues in depth.
I am curious, then, on what evidence Montfort asserts that Thurmond is a sock puppet.
Adam Yax: you ask how a guy ninety-five can be anything but out-of-touch. I would guess that Thurmond probably isn't too hip on the latest N'Sync chart-topper, to be sure, but there is no reason a ninety-five year-old cannot be aware of his job and the requirements therein. Admittedly, many people who are ninety-five are victims of senile dementia, debilitating illness, and many others have died of old age before reaching ninety-five. Still, that doesn't automatically invalidate every ninety-five year-old, just as not every fourteen-year-old is worthy of derision for knowing only about the latest chart-topper from N'Sync.
The OP asks a legitimate question. I would suggest that GQ is an inappropriate forum to air your opinions about how useless ninety-five year-olds must, definitionally, be, or to air your political disagreements with a particular Senator. GD or the Pit await these pithy observations.
12-12-2000, 04:15 PM
I live in Aiken, SC, where Strom is from. He has represented my neck of the woods for umpteen years. I have met the senator numerous times. In addition, I attended school with his children. His oldest, Nancy, who was killed several years ago by a drunk driver, would be only about 30 now. Strom Jr. is about 27, and works is a prosecutor for Aiken County. (Other kids -- Julie, around 25 or 26, just married, and Paul, who's about 23 or so, and lives in DC, I believe.) Just thought I'd supply some background info.
Anywho, I cannot attest to Thurmond's mental state, nor can anyone who doesn't know him well. He is 98, so it stands to reason that his speech may be a little less snappy than it was 40 years ago. I do know that, when I was a reporter here in town, I covered many events that the senator attended, and he was always quite with it. I hope that I am that level of coherence when I'm 98.
Now, on to his staff running everything -- maybe so. But the institution that is Strom Thurmond carries a lot of weight, especially in South Carolina. We are not wont to give that up easily. And it's not because he brings a lot of pork to the state. Ask anyone in this town, and they all know someone who has been helped by Thurmond, or at least by his office. My case: a babysitter from my childhood was swindled by a military man. She wrote a long note to the senator explaining what had happened. In a few short weeks, her money was back in her pocket, and the man was being dealt with, however that may have been. To her, it didn't matter whether Strom himself did it or whether it was his office operating as Thurmond, Inc. Bottom line -- the office of Strom gets things done for the people of SC.
Sorry so long. But just thought I would share a first-person account of how a constituent viewed Strom. He is an old, old man, and he may be slowing down. But for most of his constituents, his presence in Congress -- even if it is by reputation -- is welcome. Oh, and if you care -- my personal bet is that, should he pass away during this term, our governor, Jim Hodges, will appoint himself as the senator.
Aiken High class of ’94. Pleased to meet you.
12-12-2000, 07:01 PM
mwg1234: I live in Aiken, SC, where Strom is from.
Cool, this is exactly the kind of information I was hoping for -- either confirming the rumors that Thurmond is a fossil, or demonstrating how that reputation is undeserved... or, more pragmatically, putting his public-service longevity into an appropriate real-world context. Thanks for the anecdote!
12-12-2000, 10:57 PM
Cervaise: Glad I could help.
Tymp: Back at you. Class of '90. We probably know a lot of the same people. If nothing else, I know your friends older brothers and sisters!
12-12-2000, 11:23 PM
The undead kind ;)
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