Collins was no ally to Bunning, and far too many Republicans refused to come to his aid. But I'll tell you this much, for what it's worth: On Capitol Hill that week, I met many younger staffers who were cheering Bunning on. And I couldn't help but think of my first days in Washington, encountering a young Hill staffer named Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan, of course, is now a young congressman from Wisconsin, and has done enough homework and hard work on health-care reform and fiscal responsibility to earn the attention of even the Condescender in Chief, Barack Obama, who typically dismisses most critics.
Don't get too cynical. Instead, lend encouragement the next time a senator or congressman steps into the firing line to do something sensible and responsible that he'll be attacked for. I remember a priest once telling a group he was preaching to, "When your pastor does something good or inspiring, thank him. People often don't." It's the same in all walks of leadership life. Perhaps most of all in a legislative body with the type of approval ratings that would get most of us fired.
There are more politicians taking on the "pay-go" lie, and they could use some support. They'll take on the president's propaganda. They'll be elected in November. They'll be young staffers working for someone else, encouraged by a public that appreciates when their representatives do the right thing.