Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Colleagues work to maintain Giffords' presence in Congress despite extended absence

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' chair sits empty as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head, yet three friends are ensuring she still has a presence in Congress.

At nearly every hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, carves out a few precious minutes from his time-limited turn quizzing military officials to ask a question on behalf of Giffords.

. . . This Tuesday night, Smith will join Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in hosting a fundraiser for Giffords' 2012 campaign at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters building a few blocks from the Capitol. Members of the Democratic leadership also are pitching in.

"I've been protecting her flank politically," said Wasserman Schultz, who is intent on making sure Giffords has a hefty account for her next election.


It's really nice that "[w]hile Giffords will need months of rehabilitation from her traumatic brain injury, her three friends are filling in the gaps of the three-term congresswoman's daily work, striving to keep her politically viable during her extended absence from Washington". But, "when she will be well enough to return to work remains unclear . . . doctors said Friday that her ability to walk and talk has improved", "they had removed her breathing tube" and "[t]hey hope to reattach a piece of her skull in May".

Democrats should remember what happened when everyone filled in, helped out and covered up for the extended absences of the late Senator Edward Kennedy "as he battled a brain tumor until his death in 2009" - - the Republicans won the safest Democratic seat in the U.S. senate in the next election.

The voters are sympathetic, but they are not friends helping out a friend in need. They are citizens entitled to and demanding full time representation and constituent service.

It really is amazing that no politicians will ever admit when one of their own is too old or infirm to continue to do the job. They truly believe they are all irreplaceable.

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