© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Roy Blunt defends fear of rationing, while taking fire from RNC chairman Steele

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 24, 2009 - The online world -- partisan and non -- is hopping with talk about U.S. Rep Roy Blunt, R-Springfield (he no longer resides in Strafford) and a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

In particular:

-- Blunt's recent defense of his comments about rationing that prompted the Post-Dispatch a week ago to question his facts. He's countered with his own set of stats.

-- the fallout over a radio interview Friday between Springfield, Mo. talk show host Vincent David Jericho and Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. On the show, Steele appears to agree with Jericho's condemnation of Blunt on personal and professional grounds.

Among other things, Jericho accused Blunt of adultery. A few years ago, Blunt divorced his first wife and remarried.

The show -- notably Steele's comments that "When stuff gets in the crapper, you gotta clean it out'' -- has particularly touched off a furor, among the congressman's allies and opponents. The pro-Democrat firedupmissouri.com is predictably making hay over the it.

But so is former top Blunt aide Gregg Hartley, now a major Washington player as vice president and chief operating officer of the government-relations (lobbying) firm Cassidy & Associates.

Twittered Hartley over the weekend after hearing of the show's comments about Blunt:  "RNC Chair Michael Steele is an idiot. Past time for him to go. Party suffers every day he remains. I will contribute to the effort to oust."

Expect pressure on Steele this week to clarify his statements.

For the public and Congress, though, it may be Blunt's defense of his comments about rationing that have longer shelf life.

In an op-ed a few days ago in his hometown Springfield News-Leader, Blunt contends:

..."Their (Post-Dispatch) editorial challenged my assertion that someone my age -- 59 -- would be hard pressed to get a health care bureaucracy to approve hip replacement surgery. The paper found the average age for hip replacement (in Great Britain and Canada) is 65, but that tells us nothing about the bureaucratic hurdles patients jump to get a procedure approved.

"The Wall Street Journal reported the story of Bill Murray of Alberta, Canada, who sought help for his arthritic hip for over a year. Finally, the specialist recommended advanced hip replacement surgery. But the health care bureaucrats decided Murray, age 57, was 'too old' for the procedure and denied his request. Adding insult to injury, they told him he couldn't spend his own money on the surgery! .."

Expect to hear a lot about Bill Murray (this one, not the actor) from Blunt and other Republicans in the coming weeks.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.