John Thune: Skill versus Leadership

I have to be honest. I like John Thune. He’s a nice guy with a great family. I saw him stand in front of several hundred Hill staffers years ago and say, “I am a follower of Christ. This is what I believe and why.” It was a bold statement.

But I was intrigued by the statement Mitch McConnell made a few days ago to the Politico: “John is a person of considerable political skill.” To some extent, a true statement. He beat Tom Daschle in 2004. He had no opponent in 2010.

However, the statement got the wheels turning. Considerable political skill versus leadership. There are a lot of politicians who are skillful. That’s why we have a semi-perpetual ruling class. But leadership? Taking a bold stance on a controversial issue and fighting leadership when they are wrong? And if we’re judging people by one vote (ie Bennett), Thune, Bennett and Mitch McConnell all voted for TARP (a vote which McConnell calls ‘one of the finest moments in the history of the Senate‘.”

I would submit that John Thune is known for his earmarks, his fight to keep Ellsworth Air Force base in Rapid City, SD open during the BRAC fight in 2005 and his fight for ethanol subsidies (Op-eds are here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here by Thune on ethanol subsidies-no less than 30 on the subject) not leadership. In fact, the Weekly Standard addressed the conundrum guys like Thune face in the current political environment. To earmark or not to earmark?

In a time where a host of people are yearning for real leadership, ask yourself: is John Thune a leader? Or is he simply Mitch McConnell and the Republican Establishment’s stalking horse for 2012?