Just When You Think You've Heard It All, Bill Nelson Gets Named One of America's '10 Toughest Politicians'
Around the State
Even folks who voted for Bill Nelson have to wonder how Senator Disappear-Down-the-Back-Stairway can make a "10 Toughest Politicians in Washington Today" list.
Nevertheless, there he is. The senior senator from Florida ...
Nelson isn't on just anybody's "Toughest Politicians" list, he's on the prestigious U.S. News & World Report's website, in its regular "Washington Whispers" blog, released last Thursday.
Certainly, everybody knows lists like this are offered as entertainment, meant to be a fluffy read during a long commute or on a lunch break, wherever and whenever we're looking for a distraction. Still, when top-10 lists are found in a national mainstream-news medium of U.S. News' repute and wide distribution, we expect the fluff to be based at least on a hint of objectivity, written by somebody who's done a little research before wrapping up the story.
I don't think research ever figured into this news magazine's "10 Toughest Politicians in Washington Today" list. But politics did.
Congress alone has 535 voting members -- 435 in the House, 100 in the Senate. Those are just the A-list politicians. But in Washington, there are many more on the periphery in every branch of government. A lot of them, Republicans and Democrats alike, have personal stories, stories of tough, sometimes even life-and-death struggles to get where they are today.
It didn't bother me particularly that eight of the 10 "tough" people described on the list were card-carrying liberals: Tammy Duckworth, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Kyrsten Sinema, Mary Jo White, Rahm Emanuel and Tulsi Gabbard. Or that of the two Republicans included, one was can't-be-ignored John McCain, Vietnam-era prisoner-of-war survivor, at the top of any sane person's "tough" list; and Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, the "GOP rebel," made the list for "slamming his own party's leadership. ..."
What bothered me most is that this list plunks Bill Nelson down right in the middle of it.
Bill Nelson, the highly skilled escapist, famous among the Washington press corps for ducking out and diving under cover before he has to take "tough" questions. That Bill Nelson.
How, you ask, did Nelson make a list of the most fearless tough guys in Washington? Allow me to repeat the U.S. News' rationale -- which appears under a photo of Nelson in high boots and hunting gear in the middle of the Everglades:
"Bill Nelson, python hunter
"The Democratic senator from Florida hates the giant Burmese pythons that have come to plague his state, saying they are poised to hurt the Everglades ecosystem and swallow little children in the process. So earlier this month, the former astronaut spent hours trying to hunt them down — all while armed with handguns, machetes and five air boats, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Nelson didn't get any snakes on hunting day, but he has asked the public to continue where he left off, with a "Python Challenge" that encourages Floridians to hunt and turn in the dead snakes.
"On Inauguration Day, Nelson beat off the cold by wearing a hot orange baseball cap with a camouflage visor, which his spokesperson told the Times he uses for quail hunting."
I swear, that's what the story says. Look it up.
Has Elizabeth Flock, the writer of this little story, ever met Bill Nelson? Ever heard of him, even? A former Washington Post "Blogpost" writer who left the Post after a mysterious, apologetic and explanatory editor's note appeared above her story, Flock hasn't been long at U.S. News & World Report.
Her story/list -- personal opinion presented as authenticated substance -- is an example of why I get so crazy in this column when journalists who accusingly point fingers at the conservative press for bias think it's OK if they play wide and handsome with their own political sentiments. U.S. News wants to run this? Then, be honest. Headline it "Elizabeth Flock's 10 Toughest Politicians in Washington Today."
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