Meet the new Senator from Wyoming

Chosen by the Democratic governor after the state GOP nominated three candidates, the new Republican Senator from Wyoming (replacing the late Sen. Craig Thomas see), is state Senator John Barrasso, M.D.

Dr. John Barrasso
Senator-select Barrasso

From the story by the Casper Star Tribune’s Cheyenne reporter (that quaint institution that most local newspapers still have, a stringer in the state capital who–often– reports for several papers as their “capital bureau,” or “state bureau” In Montana, it’s Mike Dennison. etc.) :

Name recognition could carry Barrasso
Star-Tribune capital bureau Friday, June 22, 2007

… He also voted to draft a bill to ban smoking in public places statewide.

He circulated petitions to exempt food from the state sales tax and successfully sponsored the 2006 amendment that incorporated the two-year tax break in the budget. The exemption was subsequently made permanent.

“I believe in limited government, lower taxes, less spending, traditional family values, local control and a strong national defense,” Barrasso said in his application to the Republican State Central Committee to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas.

That was the quote picked up by the AP reporter, whose story fills the pages of every other newspaper in the country, from Forbes to the Flatbush Daily Flummox:

Conservative Wyo. Surgeon Newest Senator

By BOB MOEN, Associated Press Writer
Friday, June 22, 2007
(06-22) 10:18 PDT Cheyenne, Wyo. (AP) —

Republican John Barrasso, a surgeon and conservative Wyoming legislator, became the country’s newest U.S. senator Friday, replacing the late Craig Thomas.

The temporary appointment, announced Friday by Wyoming’s governor, will have no effect on the Senate’s party breakdown, since Thomas was also a Republican. He died June 4 while being treated for leukemia.

Barrasso, 54, will serve in Thomas’ place until the beginning of 2009. He said on his application that he also intends to then run in a November 2008 special election to serve out the remainder of Thomas’ term through 2013.

Barrasso also left no doubt that he will be a conservative voice in Washington.

“I believe in limited government, lower taxes, less spending, traditional family values, local control and a strong national defense,” the orthopedic surgeon and state senator from Casper wrote in his application.

He said he has “voted for prayer in schools, against gay marriage and have sponsored legislation to protect the sanctity of life.”

But, as no man is one-dimensional, the possibly good Doctor is in an interesting position vis-à-vis abortion as medicine and abortion as political doctrine: (from the Casper Star-Trib story):

In 1994, he was one of the contributors to “No on Number One,” a political action committee organized to oppose passage of a constitutional amendment that would have banned most abortions.

Voters overwhelmingly defeated the amendment.

When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, he was quoted as saying he doesn’t believe in telling doctors how to practice and he believes that abortion should be a decision between a pregnant woman and her doctor, according to newspaper accounts.

At the same time, he said he would vote to ban use of federal funds for abortions.

Since being elected to the Wyoming Senate, he’s sponsored bills to increase the penalty for killing a pregnant woman.

The latter bill passed the Legislature last winter but was vetoed by the governor on grounds that it would open up a state debate on abortion rights and might be unconstitutional.

Freudenthal said the state already has laws to protect pregnant women.

Barrasso said his only motive in sponsoring the bill was in reaction to the murder of Califonian Laci Peterson and her eight-month-old unborn son, Connor.

And, he is another in a long line of “mediagenic” candidates (ibid.):

The decades spent by John Barrasso in helping us care for ourselves have paid off big in positive statewide name recognition.

A Casper orthopedic surgeon, Barrasso, 54, has been in the spotlight for years through television and radio appearances and a weekly newspaper column peppered with practical medical advice.

But he has a physician’s view of medicine, and not a politician’s.

During his nearly five years in the Wyoming Senate, he has actively worked on health care issues, including sponsorship of the “I’m sorry” law.

The so-called law enables physicians to talk freely with their patients once unforeseen complications arise without having that conversation used against them in a lawsuit.

So, we may well have that classical Greek conflict between the Oath of Hippocrates and that of Hypocrites.

Meantime, meet the new Senator from Wyoming, John Barrasso, M.D.

Time will tell what a man of quality he will or won’t be.


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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6 Responses to Meet the new Senator from Wyoming

  1. Ginny Cotts says:

    Hopefully he knows better than to make a diagnosis from a videotape in an area outside his expertise.

    Unfortunately, my experience with orthopedic surgeons is that as a group tendency, they are second only to neurosurgeons in having some level of the exceedingly close connection to GOD delusion. Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are actually significantly behind both those groups – no worse than the average individual in a powerful job.

    Hey, the opportunity for my fav doc joke.

    Two highly renowned specialists went to the golf course for their usual weekly round. (Note, this took place before cell phones). Dr Prima hit his ball at the 9th hole and fell over from a heart attack. Dr Donna immediately instituted CPR, which is physically demanding. Soon the friends found themselves in a slowly moving line at the pearly gates. Shortly they decided to go to the head and talk with St Peter. Dr Prima introduced himself and his colleague, noting that St Pete would surely recognize them and could they proceed in to heaven. St Peter smiled but informed them they would have to wait their turns.

    They went to go back in line, and soon saw another individual in a white coat, with stethescope and golf clubs walk up to the gate and speak briefly to St Peter who acknowledged him before he entered. The doctors immediately went back to St Peter and asked why the other doctor was allowed in so quickly.

    St. Peter smiled and said:
    “That was God. Sometimes he likes to play Doctor”

    Moral: The next time you see a Dr playing God, consider that it may be God playing Doctor.

  2. My Uncle, sad to say, is a past president of the Nebraska American Magicians’ Association (er, AMA) and I understand and appreciate that Doctors like to play God.

    That’s why it’s so much fun to see a Doctor being installed with a bunch of Lawyers in the Senate. Sometimes God probably likes to play Senator, too. (Just not as often as Doctor).

    Your posts are a delight, Ginny. Thx.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    They really went outside the box with this one. Middle aged white male with impeccable conservative credentials.

  4. Darrell:

    I guess I didn’t communicate clearly. I was trying to say, while he LOOKS exactly like a cliché, let’s take a moment and recognize that NO human being is a pure cliché, and, before we judge him, let’s give him the opportunity to show us just where he stands.

    If he’s a Right Winger from Hell, he’ll surely show that side soon enough. But he might just surprise everyone. So, let’s withhold judgment and accumulate facts, instead.

    That, to me, is the essence of “liberalism,” and “tolerance.”

    Perhaps that didn’t come across clearly in my posting.

    For which I apologize.

  5. I just wanna be me! 😉

  6. See my update for more on this story. I wanted to update it here, but it’s really a related post, and not a sub-posting.