Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, October 15, 2004
Strike Out?

A close reader of this blog may have come to realize that I live in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
While pre Civil War records of relatively poor common people are sketchy, we can trace five generations of my mother’s side of the family here in Kentucky’s northern counties.
My mother’s mother was a Campbell and through her we descend from cousins of the 18th President of the Unites States, Ulysses S. Grant.
I possess a cup and saucer that family lore claimed was once a part of Julia Grant’s china service.
With the assistance of a direct descendant of America’s greatest general, Ulysses Grant Dietz, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ, we determined that the cup and saucer was more likely a gift to a family member from Julia Grant during her time in upstate New York following the General’s death in 1885.
I say this only to establish some bona fides, if you will, to having more than a passing interest in the well being of this beautiful state.
Having met Kentucky’s last Democratic senator, Wendell H. Ford on several occasions during my TV years when flying between Washington, DC and northern Kentucky, I was dismayed when he retired and further dismayed by his ineffectual Republican replacement, baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.

Senator and Mrs. Bunning

The Bunnings are known to our family and still reside across the street from the former home of my mother’s deceased sister.
I met Mary Bunning, an artist of passing skill, when my mother and I encountered her one month after 9/11 at my favorite frame shop, Bowman’s Framing, in the Bunning’s and my family’s home town of Fort Thomas, Kentucky.
My mother told Mary Bunning that I had just returned home from Washington.
As she was getting one of her watercolors framed, I complimented Mrs. Bunning on her artistic skill with a difficult medium and asked how she was enjoying life in post 9/11 Washington.
Confiding they she and the Senator were living in a high rise near the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA, Mrs. Bunning confessed to a fear of living within the national capitol area and to a tremendous relief in “being home”.
My sense was that Mary Bunning did not like the unforeseen new circumstances of her husband’s, then, relatively new and once glam job.
While our senior Senator (and his ethnic Chinese lobbyist wife) was re-elected in the last cycle with massive amounts of special interest “assistance”, Mr. Bunning, our junior Senator, a sock puppet for those same Republican special interests, is presently battling for a second undeserved term as controversy swirls regarding his temperament and, according to the editorial writers of the, now, Gannett owned Louisville Courier-Journal, his mental health:

Is he, as he ages, just becoming a more concentrated version of himself: more arrogant, more prickly? Certainly that would be a normal occurrence. Or is his increasing belligerence an indication of something worse? Has Sen. Bunning drifted into territory that indicates a serious health concern?

While Fort Thomas-ites and former team mates have long known of the former pitcher’s DiMaggio-like temper, it has, seemingly, come as somewhat of a surprise to the southern counties of the Commonwealth.
According to this morning’s Washington Post:

Sen. Jim Bunning looked like a lock for reelection, with a huge lead in the polls over his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo. But then Bunning started behaving . . . oddly. The one-term incumbent (and Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher) has stalked out of a news interview, compared his dark-complexioned opponent to one of Saddam Hussein's sons, and accused Mongiardo or a member of his campaign staff of roughing up Bunning's wife at an event over the summer -- an accusation Mongiardo's staff calls "sad and untrue." Bunning has also beefed up his security detail, telling a Paducah TV station, "There may be strangers among us."

The scene at Monday's debate in Paducah, KY

The Post goes on to describe Bunning’s behavior at a Senatorial Debate televised statewide this past Monday:

Bunning declined to show up in Kentucky, as agreed, for a debate with Mongiardo. Instead, he beamed in via satellite from the Republican National Committee's TV studio in Washington and refused to let a neutral observer monitor his participation. Bunning's campaign manager, David Young, later acknowledged that Bunning had read his opening and closing statements off a teleprompter. Mongiardo's campaign said that violated the debate's rules.

I would urge fellow Kentuckians to assist Mary Bunning in a return to the calm artistic life she once enjoyed by electing Daniel Mongiardo as our new junior Senator.
And, since I’m talking local politics, may I also urge fellow residents of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District to cast a vote for an extremely kind gentleman (and former fellow WLWT alumnus and passenger on those Washington/Kentucky USAir flights of yore to say nothing of being the brother of Rosemary and father of George), Nick Clooney on Tuesday November 2.
Remember, your Democratic vote in Kentucky will assist in the Kerry landslide and in making the televised pundit class appear more foolish, if that’s possible, than they normally appear!

Images:, AP

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