by Liz Garrigan
From the inbox -- a longtime political observer on Congressman John Tanner's vote against health reform.
John Tanner has been in the Congress for nearly 22 years. He really doesn't have much to show for it - mainly voting against arts funding and helping lead the residual segregationist-Democrat faction known as the Blue Dogs. If history remembers him for anything, it will be for being named in the Starr report as the person with whom Bill Clinton was speaking on the phone while getting his first servicing from Monica Lewinsky. (Clinton was a big multi-tasker.)
Tanner could have reversed that slide into historical obscurity by voting for the health reform bill and being one of the key figures in its passage. But he blew it.
I guess he turned out to be just who we thought he was.
Oddly, during the 1980s, Tanner and Jimmy Naifeh were known as the leading party boys in the state House. Tanner has said that he believed getting away from Naifeh saved his life. We think that going on to bigger things in Congress should have led to Tanner growing into more of a statesman. Ironically, it was Naifeh who grew, not Tanner.