Archive for the ‘American Heros’ Category

Heroes Not Zeroes

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

I suppose that Barack Obama’s supporters can be excused their fervor and celebration over these last few days here in Washington DC prior to the Inaugural. It is a very significant event. To his supporters, Obama is a true American hero, arriving in Washington to save our country.

Of course, this is totally disrespectful of real heroes. I happen to know one such real hero: Leo K. Thorsness. A retired colonel in the Air Force, Thorsness won the Medal of Honor for valor for an air engagement during the Vietnam war. Two weeks later, he was shot down and spent six years as a POW.

I have learned today that Col. Thorsness has recently published a book called Surviving Hell: A POW’s Journey. I have not yet purchased a copy of this book, but I certainly shall.

Leo Thorsness - American Hero

Leo Thorsness - American Hero

Thorsness’ time in Vietnam is the story of a hero and the story of the triumph of will. But his story immediately after Vietnam is quite interesting also. According to the Wikipedia article

In 1974, he made an unsuccessful race as the Republican nominee for United States Senate against the incumbent Democrat, Senator George S. McGovern. In 1978, Thorsness was the Republican nominee for the United States House of Representatives in a race for an open seat in the First District of South Dakota. Democratic nominee Tom Daschle won the Congressional race by a margin of 139 votes, following a recount, out of more than 129,000 votes cast.

The House election in South Dakota set the stage for some of today’s close races. Immediately after the election, Thorsness appeared to be the winner by a small margin of around 50 or 75 votes. Then it was magically discovered that some absentee ballots around Sioux Falls had been improperly sealed and went uncounted. After counting these absentee ballots – they were apparently cast in numbers quite disproportionate to the overall election – Daschle came out on top by  a slim double digit lead. A full recount was conducted. During the recount, Daschle’s slim lead was extended and and some weeks later Daschle was certified the winner by the margin indicated above, 139 votes.

Daschle, of course, is a former member of the US House of Representatives and US Senate, and was Senate Majority Leader. He is Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Why is it that every time there is a close election, mysterious bundles of unopened and uncounted ballots are found that go disproportionately to Democrats? Maybe Al Franken – a real zero – can work the answer to that question into one of his sketches.

Al Franken - Minnesotan Zero

Al Franken - Minnesotan Zero