David Brooks, the often exasperating columnist for the New York Times, has a piece up today on John Thune. It’s always interesting to see how folks from remarkably different place view people from South Dakota (and any place like it).
Some days the Republican Party seems to be going crazy. Its public image is often shaped by people who appear to have gone into government because they saw it as a steppingstone to talk radio.
But deep in the bowels of the G.O.P., there are serious people having quiet conversations. The people holding these conversations created and admired Bob McDonnell’s perfectly executed Virginia gubernatorial campaign. And now as they look to the future of their party, and who might lead it in 2012, the name John Thune keeps popping up.
There we have it. Thune is a non-crazy Republican. Later on in the piece, Brooks tells us why he really likes the Senator:
He is a gracious and ecumenical legislator, not a combative one. When you ask him to mention authors he likes, he mentions C.S. Lewis and Jeff Shaara, not political polemicists. The first person who told me I had to write a column about Thune was a liberal Democratic senator who really likes the guy.
Thune also possesses the favored Republican profile du jour: conservative at the roots but pragmatic at the surface. Like McDonnell, nobody can question Thune’s conservative bona fides. As a result, he doesn’t have to talk about them. Instead, he prefers to talk about what he calls the “economic cluster” of issues: job creation, balanced budgets and small-business-led growth.
He doesn’t have radical plans to cut the federal leviathan. He just wants to restrain the growth of government to bring deficits down. He doesn’t have ambitions to restructure the tax code. He just wants to lift burdens on small business.
Bottom line for Brooks? Thune is nice. Of course, some of you may remember that such was his opinion of Barack Obama as well.
Go read the piece and see if the view from one big city journalist’s desk corresponds with your own.