Jim Bunning: Should He Really Rest in Peace?

Leading obituary in today’s New York Times: Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame Pitcher Turned Cantankerous Senator, Dies at 85. In the online version, the Times changed “Turned Cantankerous” to “and Blunt-Spoken.” I like the print title better.

Should anyone from the general public be mourning Bunning’s passing?

Not in my opinion. Pissing on anyone’s grave is not an especially endearing act, so I’ll catch a few darts for this one, but I believe there should be a special place in hell for anyone lucky enough to make a fortune playing a sport who sees fit to deny poor people safety net benefits.

After a 17-year baseball career, Bunning became a Kentucky legislator, then House representative and, finally, between 1999 and 2011, one of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators. As a Senator, at the depths of the great recession in 2010, Bunning registered procedural objections to the legislation extending unemployment benefits and, according to the Times “single-handedly delayed its passage.” That’s how I remember it as well.

In other words, Bunning, a guy who never wanted for anything in his adult life for no reason other than that he was born with the genetic capacity to throw a baseball exceptionally fast and with great precision, saw fit to inflict misery on those who lost their livelihoods when the economy crashed. That, to me, is the scummiest of political scum.

Bunning, however, is by no means in a class by himself. It is remarkably commonplace for absurdly wealthy pro athletes, especially white ones, to take on a similar world view. Curt Shilling, whose nickname was rumored to be “Dinner for One” when he pitched for the Diamondbacks, was right up there with Bunning. Phil Mickelson was roundly and deservedly maligned when he thought it appropriate to whine about California’s top income tax rate. Mickelson at least had the decency to apologize for his remarks.

Here’s how extreme it gets: I remember reading a Golf Digest article in 2004 about how 64 of 64 pro golfers polled by GD favored Bush in the 2004 election. Imagine that? The only demographic to be 100% for anything turns out to be multimillionaires who made their fortunes hitting a ball with a club. And what do they unanimously favor? Tax cuts for the wealthy funded by the shredding of the safety net. Quite a few from this group were on the Trump train, and still are.

Maybe it’s something about baseball pitchers and male pro golfers. Hmmm, the two positions in sports most dominated by whites? What a coincidence!

I have nothing against pro athletes. Even those with the most incredible natural talent had to work hard to reach the level of excellence demanded in pro sports. But the fact remains they all were insanely lucky, genetically, to be born with the capacity to reach that level of skill. Which allowed them to reap insanely large financial rewards for throwing a baseball or swinging a driver. For them to be so disdainful of less fortunate Americans that they would deny the most minimal level of assistance is so lacking in empathy it qualifies as psychopathic. Remarkably, however, they are elected to public office, rather than ostracized by society.

So, sorry, I just can’t care if Jim Bunning rests peacefully.

6 Responses to Jim Bunning: Should He Really Rest in Peace?

  1. Mike Hughes

    Sorry for the typos’. I agree Bob…Bunning was a great pitcher, and a lousy human being. Somebody please put a mirror under his nose at the wake.

  2. Mike Hughes

    I agree, agreat pitcher and a lousy human being. Somebody put a mirror under hus nose at the wake please.

  3. For Sure Not Tom

    I grew up in a very conservative very small mid-west town, and the response to seeing anyone less fortunate than you was “there but for the Grace of God go I”.

    An acknowledgement that not everyone is born lucky.

    Now conservatives say “if you’re not a millionaire blame yourself”.

    If you win the sperm lottery like a Trump kid or you have a skill for playing a game that makes you a lot of money, STFU and be grateful.

    The only thing more American than wealthy white people taking from poor people is wealthy white people complaining about how everyone is so mean to them.

    • “I grew up in a very conservative very small mid-west town, and the response to seeing anyone less fortunate than you was “there but for the Grace of God go I”.”

      You were blessed, Tom, to grow up in a village full of saints. I would bet they were mostly white, too. And I would bet you would have found similar sentiments in larger towns and cities, as well. However, 50 years of the Great Society has forced people to look on things with a little more realism and a recognition that you can’t buy people out of poverty.

      “The only thing more American than wealthy white people taking from poor people is wealthy white people complaining about how everyone is so mean to them.”

      Still feeling guilty about being white, eh? Or is it resentment at not being wealthy?

      • Democratic Guy

        Sorry Steve,
        The Great Society programs were dismantled starting in the 1980s by rich B actor and General Electric pitchman Ronnie Reagan. Bill Clinton unfortunately finished off “welfare as we know it” by eliminating all lifetime benefits in 5 years max. Universal basic income policies are being debated and soon implemented in Europe, proving that you can indeed “buy people out of poverty” economically and efficiently. Meanwhile here in the U.S. poverty continues to grow and 25% of Arizona’s children now live in poverty, as rich white Repubs in Phoenix and Congress debate still more cuts to our already shredded safety net. Lastly, with your utter lack of concern, your white privilege is showing. And it’s not a good look.

  4. Concerned Citizen

    No, Jim Bunning should NOT rest in peace. Excellent article!